Cleaning 101: How to Disinfect Sports Equipment

tennis racket and tennis balls on the ground

The coronavirus outbreak has significantly disrupted the entire world’s routine, shutting down thousands of businesses and causing countries to undergo quarantine measures for safety purposes. Now that conditions are starting to ease up, some areas are lifting lockdown procedures and allowing outdoor and indoor activities to be held once more.

After being stuck at home for months, it is normal to have gained weight, mainly due to how stressful the entire pandemic ordeal has been. With certain sports being allowed again, many people are excited to take part in outdoor physical activities and shed off those unwanted pounds.

Since the threat of COVID-19 is not exactly over yet, it is best to practice due diligence in keeping yourself safe, especially if you plan to participate in sports activities. Learning how to clean and disinfect your sports gear properly can go a long way in preventing harmful germs and viruses from accessing your body.

Regularly wash uniforms and other sports clothes.

Even during the pandemic, sports organizations will be enthusiastic enough to encourage matching uniforms. Wearing uniforms also add excitement to the game, which is why people show up in full gear even if it’s just a practice match. Regardless of which sport you are playing, there is a pretty good chance that your sportswear will be soaked after playing for an hour or two. To ensure that your clothes don’t breed any germs or viruses, it is strongly recommended to wash them as soon as you get home after the game.

man playing basketball

When washing your sports gear, keep in mind that putting in more detergent does not necessarily mean your uniform will get cleaner. The truth is, using too much detergent can do more harm than good for both your clothes and your washing machine.

If you put in excessive amounts of detergent in the laundry, it can lead to residue buildup that can cause stains on the clothes and leave a foul odor in the washing machine. If this happens, you can remedy the situation by pouring a cup of white vinegar mixed with half a dose of detergent into the washer. The acidic mixture will wash away accumulated dirt and other residues while also removing unwanted odors from the machine.

Make sure to wash sports clothes from the inside out, since most of the sweat will be stuck with the inner cloth. Use cold water to strengthen the effect of the detergent. If you feel that the clothes are particularly pungent, you can add half a cup of white vinegar or a quarter cup of baking soda to help wash away germs.

Use a dryer on your sports clothes, including elastic gear such as baseball pants and football uniforms.

While there is no specific information on how long viruses can survive on fabric, one study learned that natural materials such as cotton and wool are more susceptible to breeding bacteria and fungi over synthetic and silk types. Luckily, using a dryer can potentially destroy most germs as long as it reaches a high enough temperature.

The minimum heat required to reduce virus and bacteria significantly on fabric is around 135 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 57 degree Celsius). However, there is no guarantee that this will completely eliminate the threat since there is much we still don’t know about various species of viruses and bacteria.

Sterilize every piece of sports equipment.

Many sports require players to touch and share the same object continuously. There are also sports wherein specific equipment is used to make contact with other players multiple times throughout a match. To ensure that there is no spreading of germs and bacteria when this happens, it is best to sterilize every piece of equipment that the players use.

Sterilization works wonders in killing several forms of microbial life, which includes viruses and bacteria. Since the coronavirus outbreak, it’s been challenging to find autoclaves for sale due to the high demand of the sterilization equipment. Luckily, you can use hot steam from boiling water as your makeshift sterilizing setup.

You need to sterilize sports equipment before and after each time that the players will use it. It might sound like a hassle, but it’s a lot less trouble than getting sick due to catching microbes from another player.

It is an exciting time to play sports again, but you need to remember that the risks are still there, and it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Make it a habit to wash your hands before and after every game, and try to keep your own bottle of sanitizer or alcohol for disinfecting whenever necessary. If possible, bring your own equipment to every game so you wouldn’t have to share it with other players.

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