How To Clean Hockey Skates

Hockey being such a physically demanding sport, players tend to sweat profusely during games, most of which ends up being collected in your skate boots and other equipment. If not aired out properly and allowed to dry, they become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Often called “Rink stink”, it’s the terrible stench that develops as a result of that bacteria. Sweat can also cause damage and health hazards on the inside of your skates. Although it might sound harmless, sweat can actually lead to f issues such as an increased risk of blisters and growths of fungus and mildew.

In this article, we’ll look more into how you can clean your skates and keep them from developing a bad stench so that your skates stay fresh, and your feet stay healthy.

Prevention Before Cure

how to clean hockey skates at home?

Ensuring no moisture builds up in your skates and are always properly cleaned is better than testing your luck to see how long you can go without cleaning them.

Here are a few methods you can use to prevent your skates from developing dangerous bacteria and making you sick.

Base layers

Create a layer between your skin and the boot. Doing this creates a barrier preventing a lot of sweat and dead skin from making contact with your skates, reducing the likeliness of bacteria growing on them. Wear clean socks to every game and use special equipment like moisture-wicking socks and Under Armor shirts and tights, if and when required.

Airing out your skates

Having base layers greatly reduces the amount of sweat seeping through to your skates, but it doesn’t stop it completely. Hence, the single most effective measure you should take to minimize the bacteria buildup in your skates is to dry them out after every game. Remove inserts and open up your skates to maximize the airflow in them, and place them somewhere dry and well-ventilated. Using drying racks and dedicated boot dryers are the best methods to ensure that there is no redundant moisture in your skates.

Other methods

Anti-bacterial sprays also work wonders in preventing the buildup of unwanted bacteria in the skates and should be used after every game before leaving the skates out to dry. If the skates are to be stored, fill the skates with paper towels when they’re not in use so that even without ventilation, the towels can help soak some of the moisture away from your skates.

Cleaning and removing odors from your skates

how to clean skates

If you’ve been using your skates for a long time and it’s beginning to smell a bit funny, it might finally be time to wash them. Below are a few steps you can take to wash them properly. 

Drying The Skates

The best way to get rid of the stink is to open your boots and let them dry out after every game. When you’re done using your skates remove the insoles and loosen the laces as much as possible. After that, pull the tongue up and outward to let air circulate through the whole boot.

Pulling out the tongue and taking the insoles out to dry separately helps the boot to dry faster than keeping it closed and is recommended before washing them.

Washing Your Skates

Even after taking good care of the storage of your skates and following proper preventative measures, the stench is inevitable and you’ll need to wash out your skates when that finally develops. It’s important to know that skates, like helmets, do not go in a washing machine. Putting your skates in a washing machine will cause irreparable damage to them and must be avoided.

When you do need to wash your skates, make sure that they’re dried out properly and remove any inserts from them before you do anything to your skates. You should never use any detergents or bleach as they will end up damaging the protective padding in the boot. Instead, begin by scrubbing the skates with a washcloth and use a solution of vinegar and water. Alternatively, you can also use an odor-removing spray for better results.

Thoroughly wipe the interior out and allow your skates to dry completely by either hanging them out to dry or using a boot dryer.

Deodorizing The Skates

Once you’re done washing and drying out your skates, it’s unlikely for any stench to still remain in the skates, but at times some residual odor is still left in the skates and it may be a bit difficult to remove that by using just water and vinegar.

In such cases, non-toxic products like Stink-eez and deodorizer pods help dry up the lining and make it very easy to completely remove any kind of smell from your skates, leaving them smelling fresh for a long time.


Taking good care of your skates doesn’t take much time and it is easy to get into the habit of cleaning them and airing them out after every game. Paying a pro shop for cleaning your skates just adds to the already expensive investment of a pair of skates.

We hope this article gave you insight into how to better take care of your skates and we hope that our tips helped you. Although they won’t make your skates smell like a field of roses, they would definitely help in keeping them fresh. Keep cleaning your skates regularly and the time before you need a new pair of skates will increase significantly.

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Tessa Reynolds
Tessa is a Denver-based writer who likes to share her knowledge and personal experience in the form of articles. When she is not writing, you can probably find her skiing with her friends in the mountains of Colorado.