How to Clean Shin Guards

If you’re playing soccer, you’d better wear shin guards. And if you wear shin guards regularly, you’d better wash them regularly.

But that begs the question: how exactly do you go about washing shin guards? There are several different cleaning methods, many of which we will discuss below. Without further ado, here is how to clean shin guards.

slip-in soccer shin guards- How to clean your shin guards

Spray Them After Each Use

Let’s be honest: wearing soccer shin pads results in sweaty legs. After all, combined with tight socks equals a buildup of heat, and that heat is going to lead to perspiration.

What this means, of course, is that your shin guards will be soaked with sweat after each use. But this doesn’t necessarily command a complete wash, and in many cases, you can get away with simply spraying them.

Spraying your guards with a disinfectant solution will kill mold and bacteria, preventing fungal buildup over time and reducing the risk of infection.

Now, what exactly should you use to spray your shin guards? There are a few options, all of which we’ll discuss now.

Standard Cleaning Disinfectant

One option is to use a standard cleaning disinfectant, including something like Lysol spray or Clorox spray. These are specifically designed to kill bacteria and will, more or less, keep your shin pads sanitary between uses.

Scent Spray

If you’re worried about bad smells coming from your shin guards, you could spray them with scent sprays like Febreeze, which will serve as a good stop-gap between complete cleanings.

how to clean soccer shin guards - spray with fabreeze

A Vinegar Solution

Another option is to use a vinegar solution. Note, though, that this will give your shin guards an odor. It’s not a terrible odor, but it isn’t necessarily pleasant either.

To create a vinegar solution, simply mix vinegar with water. When spraying shin guards, you should use around a 60/40 ratio of vinegar/water.

Note that vinegar is not only a deodorizer (though, again, it provides an odor all its own) but also a bacteria killer. So, it will assist in all facets of shin guard cleaning.

A Baking Soda Solution

One last option is a baking soda solution, which entails mixing a tablespoon or two of baking soda into a cup of water and stirring it up.

Note, though, that while baking soda does have some anti-bacterial properties, it’s not a great bacteria eliminator. Instead, it excels at eliminating strong odors, making it a solid option for refreshing shin guards after each use.

Put Them in the Washing Machine Once a Month

Not only should you spray your shin guards after each use, but you should also put them in the washing machine once a month or so. Using a washing machine will give them a thorough cleaning, thus keeping them fresh and sanitary over the long haul.

When washing your shin guards, make sure to use a gentle setting. Also, be sure to protect their plastic components in some way, lest they incur dents and dings from being thrown around. If there’s a liner over the plastic part, you don’t need to do anything further; if there isn’t, you should place them inside something zippable, like a pillowcase. You could even use a soccer sock.

There’s no special detergent for washing your soccer shin guards, and any laundry detergent will work. However, Lysol offers a great sanitizing detergent, which will help keep them fresh and smelling great!

Hand Wash Them to Remove Visible Stains

Hand-washing shin guards is another viable option. This is particularly true in cases where they’ve incurred stains. You don’t need to do this consistently; do it whenever stains present themselves.

When doing this, it’s wise to use a hard-thistle brush. Then, mix some soap into the water, dip the brush into the solution, and scrub. You can do this for both the cloth portion of the shin guards and the plastic part of the shin pads.

Note that if you’re having trouble removing any stains, you could add vinegar to the mix, which can sometimes help remove tough stains.

Soak Them

If you’re not comfortable putting your shin guards in the washer, you could instead soak them in a bucket of soapy water. Make sure the water is on the hot side, add some detergent, ensure it’s sudsy, and you’ll be good to go.

Generally speaking, they should soak for between 15 and 20 minutes, which should be enough to eliminate most bacteria.

Hang Them Out to Dry

You can’t just wash your shin guards and put them back into your bag, and you need to give them time to dry before putting them away.

Stuffing them right back in your bag will result in mold growth and musty smells. In essence, it will reverse all the washing you just did. Plus, it will negatively impact your shin guards over the long haul, causing them to deteriorate quicker than they would otherwise.

So, instead, find a line to hang them on and let them dry out naturally. Line drying will take a few hours but will leave your shin guards in much better shape after the fact, and they won’t take on unnecessary wear and tear and will ultimately last longer.

Note that mechanical dryers don’t work for drying shin guards. Unfortunately, they can cause irreparable damage and should not be used.

And That’s How to Clean Soccer Shin Guards

As you can see, there are several ways to keep your shin pads clean and fresh. So, take these tips to heart and make cleaning your shin guards a consistent priority.

On the hunt for more soccer-related info? You don’t need to look further than our Soccer Handbook website. We cover all aspects of The Beautiful Game, from equipment to rules to techniques to coaching tips and much more.

Bryan Coe

Bryan Coe

Bryan is the founder of The Soccer Handbook. He has been playing soccer since he was 8 years old, continues to play, and has also done his share of volunteer coaching over the years. Bryan’s mission is to help coaches coach better and help people enjoy the beautiful game throughout their lives.


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