You’ve been there before.
Perhaps it was your linemate, your son or daughter, the guy who couldn't be bothered to come back into his own zone, let alone air out his gear, or maybe you’ve had to accept the unfortunate reality that you are that guy / girl in the dressing room with other-worldly stinky skates. Ugh, you're the stinky kid.
Now just so we're on the same page, hockey players and smelly equipment go together like steak and potatoes, like peanut butter and jelly, like peas and carrots (Forrest Gump?). I get that. So moderately poor smelling equipment won't turn many heads in the dressing room. But rotten smelling skates can propel the accepted, ripe smelling hockey equipment from “just the normal hockey stink” to a category 5 reek fest. And no one wants to be the stinky kid. Or be the parent of the stinky kid. Or have to sit beside the stinky kid.
So let's get to the source of the problem, what makes your skates stink?
The short, simple answer is: sweat.
Did you know your feet have over 250,000 sweat glands? When you confine those glands in a leather boot for a few hours at a time and engage in physical activity, your feet are going to sweat. If the sweat isn’t properly ventilated or wicked away from the foot, bacteria begins to form. And this bacteria stinks. It accumulates on your feet and eventually gets transferred to your skates. When you let this bacteria fester in your skates, you become the guy or girl that no one wants to sit next to in the dressing room.
Aside from the social hit you’ll take for having skates that reek, the bacteria which causes the smell is also the culprit which breaks down the fibres in your skates, also known as rotting. So it's really a lose / lose situation. You have unpleasant smelling skates and you’ll need to replace them sooner than you’d like. And skates aren’t cheap.
So what can you do to combat skate odor?
What are some solutions for stinky skates and bad foot odor? Here are 4 options you have to help keep your skates smelling fresh and clean. Well, fresh and clean in hockey player standards.
Keep your feet clean. If your shoes smell, and you take your smelly feet directly from your smelly shoes and put them into your skates, guess what’s going to happen? So try and keep your foot hygiene up to par. Practice giving your feet a good scrub in your morning shower and your after-hockey shower. This is extra important for people who like to go barefoot in their skates as there is no layer to prevent bacteria from transferring from the foot to the skate.
Air out your skates. Bacteria grows in moist environments. If you’re one of those people who just keep your equipment in your bag and throw it in the garage after hockey, then chances are your skates are going to stink. Heck, if you do that every time, all of your equipment is going to stink. When you get home after hockey, take a few minutes to spread your equipment out in the garage or a rec room. Some will go as far to put their skates over a vent to ensure there is no moisture or festering bacteria in there. I won't argue with that method.
Wicking socks. Get yourself a pair of Thinees hockey socks. Seriously. Do it. One of the most effective ways to combat sweat building up in your skates is to wick it away. Wicking socks, like Thinees, help push moisture away from your feet so it can evaporate, rather than stay on the foot and begin cultivating into bacteria.
Baking soda. Giving your skates a dose of baking soda after each game or perhaps even nightly can help reduce the smell of your skates. Baking soda works as a drying agent to prevent the festering of bacteria in wet skates.
You can also combine all of these solutions into the ultimate, skate odor defense. Doing so will almost guarantee you'll be "not the stinkiest guy in the room". And that's important.
So, whatcha think? Do you have any solutions not mentioned above? Let us know about them in the comments section.
Until next time…