|Yes, you. You stink.|
Well, it's actually really bad for you to skate in wet gear, and your teammates don't love smelling your reek either. We all understand that there is always going to be a certain level of derby pad stink when we're playing, but sometimes stink crosses the line to awful stench, and that's not healthy for anyone. Our league has a Stinky Pad award we give out at the end of the year, but in all seriousness, it's not an ideal situation for us to be skating around in wet, stinking gear.
First of all, wet gear is a breeding ground for mold and fungal infections; putting wet gear on your skin every other day is most likely going to cause irritation or a possible infection, such as ring worm, impetigo, or even MRSA. Gross. The BEST thing you can do to keep your pads from getting disgusting is dry them out when you get home from practice. I actually have a drying rack that is specifically set up and used for drying derby gear. Opening all of the velcro and hanging each pad so it's as open to airflow as possible is the best way you can dry your gear. Some people dry their gear in the sun, but this can age the elastic parts of your pads, so I wouldn't recommend it on a regular basis. By the way, when was the last time you really opened your bag and let it air out? Yeah, you might want to do that too. Bags can harbor the same reeks that lurk in your pads.
What if you're playing in a tournament situation and can't dry your pads overnight? Well, I learned from the Texas Rollergirls that wearing something on your arms to block direct contact with your wet pads can make your situation more comfortable. I tend to take a long sock and cut the foot off and wear them like gauntlets. That way my wet pads don't rub on my skin; also, if I wear the gauntlets the first time, they're the ones that tend to get wet, and my pads stay dryer. Win win! Plus...cool gauntlets!
Ok, you dried your gear every time you've used it, but it still reeks; some people have strong body odor, and that can change with what you eat and drink on a daily basis. Your final option is washing your pads; I realize that washing gear can be trying on people. Velcro opens and catches in the washing machine, and washing your gear can start to degrade the elastic parts as well, but sometimes it's a necessary evil. I try to minimize my washing of pads to once a month, and then I use warm wash, gentle cycle and Tide Sports Brand detergent. It tends to cut through the residual derby stink that remains in pads, even after a good washing. According to some hockey moms who blog incessantly on this subject, Gear Wash works really well at removing odors and creepy crawlies. I have sensitive skin in general, so I try to stay away from detergents that I haven't used in the past, but it might work for you.
Aurora Thunder has a great home made detergent that's she's willing to share with us.
Homemade Laundry Detergent (Super easy!)
Most ingredients can be found in the laundry aisle of any chain store.
2 C of fels naptha, zote, or other bar soap
1 C of Borax
1 C of Washing Soda (not baking soda)
You can also add a few drops of essential oils if you like. Tea Tree Oil is recommended for its antibacterial properties.
Grate the bar soap and mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight plastic container. Use 2-3 teaspoons for a full load of laundry (I use the full 3 tsps for derby pads). This is a low sudsing formula so it's safe for front loading and HE machines.
On the sensitive skin note, I am not a fan of constantly spraying gear with Febreeze and other sprays; I do worry that my skin will have a reaction one of these days, so I avoid it as much as possible. To help deodorize my gear on a day to day basis, I throw a dryer sheet in the bottom of my bag or use "sneaker deodorizer balls" in my skate bag. (Thanks to Percy Q-tion for the tip!) Neither of these items comes into direct contact with the interior of my pads, but it does cut the smell back a bit. I haven't won that Stinky Pad award yet, and I hope I can keep avoiding it by maintaining my gear.
|Stinky Pads award...not it!|
If you have any suggestions for staying cleaner in your gear, please share! Make derby a less stinky place for all of us!