In-season helmet and shoulder pad cleaning should be simple and minimal

By Joe Frollo | Posted 6/27/2014

Football players across the United States will soon be trading their shorts and t-shirts for helmets and shoulder pads as summer workouts move into preseason camps.

Still, as long as the weather is hot, the players will sweat, and that equipment will become as soaked with perspiration as anything else on an athlete’s body.

Riddell Senior Communications Manager Erin Griffin offered some simple advice for players – and their parents – looking to wipe away some of the sweat and stink that can stick to the equipment.


What’s the best way to clean a football helmet during the season?

Commercial cleaners and polishes may damage the helmet shell or liner (and void your warranty), so at-home cleaning should be limited to a disinfectant wipe or regular dish soap and water.

Be sure to rinse after cleaning and allow the product to completely dry. Avoid warm, dark, moist storage areas.

Keep in mind that Speed and 360 helmets have removable overliners that can be washed repeatedly throughout the season. Overliners should be hand-washed and air-dried and never be dried using a clothing drier.

After the season, reconditioning is highly recommended as cleaning and sanitizing is always a standard step in the process.

What’s the best way to clean shoulder pads during the season?

In-season cleaning of shoulder pads should be minimal. A typical mistake made by coaches, players and parents is judging a set of shoulder pad’s cleanliness by the smell. However, the smell is often the result of improper storage.

Specifically, wet pads – from sweat or an attempt at cleaning – stored in a warm, dark place while still damp or otherwise not fully dry will promotes bacterial growth, which, in turn, is what causes the smell. 

To get more equipment questions answered, visit USA Football’s Q&A site.