Tips for keeping sports equipment clean

Most sports equipment is made of tough materials and can stand getting dirty and scuffed. In fact, over-cleaning can be as much of a problem as under-cleaning, since racquets, balls, skis and other sporting goods often contain finely calibrated, high-tech materials. The trick is knowing not just how to clean your sports gear, but how often to do it.

Tips for keeping sports equipment clean

1. To clean a baseball glove

  • Brush away dirt with a stiff-bristled leather-care brush, available from shoe stores.
  • If the glove gets muddy, let the mud dry and then brush it off.
  • Don't use water on your leather glove.
  • If your glove gets rained on, let it dry naturally in a warm, well-ventilated place. Don't put it on or near a heater or fireplace, as heat causes leather to stiffen and crack.
  • After the glove has dried, use lanolin or a lanolin-based shaving cream to soften the leather.

2. To clean an outdoor basketball

  • Use a cloth and a solution of water and dishwashing liquid.
  • When clean, rinse the basketball with plain water and air-dry.

3. To care for a football

  • When your football, which is usually made of synthetic leather, gets dirty, wipe it with a moist rag.
  • If it gets wet, air-dry it. Don't use a heat source such as a hair dryer or a heater to dry a football.

4. To keep golf clubs clean

  • Wipe the dirt and mud off them after each day of golfing.
  • Use a cloth and plain water or a mild solution of dishwashing liquid and water.
  • Rinse by wiping with a wet cloth.
  • Try not to get the leather grips wet.
  • Large deposits of dirt on your clubs can affect your game, so keep a moist cloth handy while playing to spot-clean after digging up divots.

5. To clean a synthetic golf bag

  • Wipe it with plain water or the same mild, soapy solution recommended for golf clubs.
  • Remember to vacuum out the bottom and the pockets occasionally.

6. To keep hockey gear in good working order

  • The most important thing is to allow it to dry properly — which means letting gear dry naturally, not with the help of an additional heat source.
  • After each game, dry and store pads (hanging them, if possible) and the stick in an upright position.
  • Dry ice hockey skates with a cloth after each use to avoid rusting.
  • Wipe visors clean with a moist cloth after each use.

7. To clean skis and poles

  • Wipe them down with a moist rag (you can use a soapy solution of warm water and dishwashing liquid), rinse them and then dry with a dry rag.
  • Wax your skis every few times you use them.
  • When you wax them, clean the bases either by using a spray-on and wipe-off base cleaner or by putting on hot wax with an old iron and scraping it off with a plastic scraper before it has dried. (Once you've used an iron for waxing, never use it on clothes.)
  • After you ski, always dry your skis and poles with a cloth to keep them from rusting.

8. To clean a soccer ball

Just wipe it off with a moist cloth.

9. To clean a tennis racquet

  • Or a squash or badminton racquet, wipe it with a damp cloth.
  • Don't get the strings wet, because moisture can ruin them.
  • Try not to wet the leather grip either, as moisture can take away the grip's tackiness and make it slippery.
  • Instead, wipe perspiration off with a dry cloth.
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