Cleaning your football gear and uniforms could be hard-work. For some, keeping those white jerseys and pants immaculately clean can take up a lot of time and energy. Unless you’re some professional football player who can afford to hire someone to do the dirty work, knowing how to clean and maintain your uniforms and gear is another skill that you must master.

You don’t have to spend your entire Saturday night or skip the whole day of practice just to wash and clean your gears. Below are the tips on how you can easily keep your uniforms look their best and lasting all season.

  1. Know the Material of Your Uniform by Heart

Just as how important it is to get to know your teammates, it’s also as important studying and getting to know what materials your uniforms are made of. You won’t be able to give them the proper care that they need unless you know their composition.

Heavy weight stretchable polyester knit or mesh is one of the most common materials almost every football uniforms are made from. The fabric has stretch to promote mobility and better movement and they are also durable. Surprisingly, they are much easier to care for than cotton. Before you pop them in your washing machine, it is important that you know the right detergent, water temperature and stain removal process to use in this material.

  1. Learn How to Presoak

Most of the players get off the field with a filthy uniform, unless of course you’ve just been riding the bench most of the time.

Presoaking your uniform is an essential step in the overall process of cleaning. After each practice or game, make it a habit to remove as much mud and loose dirt as possible by rinsing off your uniform in a utility sink with cold water.

Then, fill a large plastic storage tub, bucket or sink with warm water and add two or three tablespoons of a heavy duty laundry detergent and one cup of baking soda. Soak your uniform in for at least an hour; you can even soak it overnight to get the best result. The baking soda works in reducing the odor while the detergent removes the dirt and stain. You can apply this technique on white and colored fabrics, though it’s best to use a separate soaking container for whites and colors.

  1. Say No to Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach is a big no-no in cleaning uniforms, just how steroids are strictly discouraged in football. Chlorine bleach may be effective in many uses but not for clothing made of polyester fabrics. Next time you’ll be tempted to use it on your uniform, remember that it can do more damage to the material than good.

What alternative you can use to remove those nasty stains and keep your uniform sparkly white?

You can use an all-fabric or oxygen-based bleach instead. They are safe to use on white uniform shirts or pants with colored stripes or lettering. Let your uniform soak for at least an hour to overnight.

  1. Wash Individually

You may have used to the spirit of teamwork in football but this is not applicable when it comes to cleaning your uniforms. You should give your uniforms alone time in the washing machine; never wash them with other clothes. Many of our clothing are made of cotton material that can easily cling to the numbers and letters on your jersey. You may have tons of laundry to do aside from your uniforms, but the rest of them can wait while you’re taking your sweetest time cleaning your most precious uniforms.

  1. Never Use the Dryer

If you think that your uniforms have handled the heat on the field so they can handle the heat of the dryer too, then you are thinking wrong. Putting your sports uniform in a dryer is a big no-no.

There are many cons in putting them in a dryer than pros. First, high heat can destroy screen-printed lettering and numbers. It can also cause shrinkage and color fading. Use the old-school method of drying your clothes instead. Hang the uniform to air dry away from direct sunlight.

  1. Learn How to Remove Stains Effectively

Let’s face it; stain is a part of your career as a football player. A stain-clad uniform is like your battle scars; it only means that you’ve had a good game and you gave your best on that game.

If you are faced with a dilemma of using hot or cold water for stain removal, always go for cold water. Hot water will only give you a hard time in removing those stains as it sets the stain into your clothing.  Presoaking would usually remove the stain but if they are very stubborn, rub in a bit of extra detergent or use a stain remover before you put it into wash.

Sweat, blood, grass and mud are the most common stains in a football player’s uniform. Some stain removals have harsh chemicals that can potentially damage your clothing. You can use these natural laundry stain removers instead:

  • Distilled white vinegar – It is inexpensive, gentle on fabrics and safer to use than chlorine bleach and fabric softeners. Remove those stubborn yellow underarm perspiration stain and odor with white vinegar.
  • Baking soda – Baking soda has so many uses and one of them is removing stain effectively and safely. It’s inexpensive and highly available. It will help reduce the odor and keep your uniform smelling fresh.
  • Lemon or lime juice – Due to its acetic acid, fresh or bottled 100 percent real lemon or lime juice has a natural bleaching action on fabrics. Remove the stain before it causes permanent damage on your uniform with lemon or lime juice. It is also effective in removing underarm stains.

Click here to learn how to remove blood stains from your uniform.

Taking care of your uniforms and gears is very important. Learn more useful tips about football gears and how to take care of them here.