How to Deal with Stinky Soccer Gear

Just because your child plays soccer doesn’t mean you have to put up with smelly gear. Here are some tips to get rid of the bacteria, mold and fungus that are the source of the smell.

After a game or practice, when your child puts their damp, sweaty gear into their backpack, they’re creating a prime breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and fungus. It doesn’t take long for their soccer bag and all its contents to take on a smell to match. To minimize the problem, here are a few tips for keeping your player’s gear clean and smelling good.

General Tips to Prevent Odor on Soccer Gear

It’s usually easier and more pleasant to prevent smells from occurring than it is to get rid of nasty odors that have been there for a while. Here are some steps you can take to avoid soccer gear from becoming rank in the first place.

  • Remove gear from the soccer bag on a regular basis. Shake everything out and air it outside or in a well-ventilated area.

  • Allow items to dry after use and when possible, use the power of the sun. Not only does this help with the smell, but sunshine acts as a natural disinfectant and helps to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew.

Tips to Reduce Odor in Soccer Shoes

Damp and sweaty soccer shoes are a major source of odors. Here are some additional tips that will help reduce or eliminate the smell.

  1. Remember that wet gear breeds odor. To accelerate the drying process, try inserting Shoe Dogs overnight. Shoe Dogs are an affordable shoe deodorizer that can extend the life of your shoes. They are made from a breathable flannel shell and filled with cedar dust that absorbs all sweat and moisture and leave shoes smelling fresh. The cedar dust is medically treated to destroy bacteria and fungus buildup.

  2. After knocking off any excess dirt, pull out the tongue and pour a few tablespoons of baking soda inside soccer shoe and let sit overnight. Or spray the inside with specialized sprays designed to eliminate bacteria and odors in sports equipment, then let them air dry.

  3. After each use, make sure to store your soccer shoes in a dry and well-ventilated area to prevent the growth of bacteria which is the source of odors.

Don’t Forget the Shin Guards

Shin guards can be a major source of odor since they come in direct contact with the skin and can propagate bacteria that feeds on sweaty gear. Try these methods to remove the smell.

1. Hand wash shin guards by filling a basin or sink with warm water and adding a small amount of mild detergent. Submerge the shin guards and gently scrub them with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and let them air dry completely.

2. After washing shin guards, while they’re still wet, sprinkle them with a little baking soda and let them sit for five to ten minutes before rinsing. Proceed to air dry.

3. Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a bowl or spray bottle. Remove any removable padding or inserts from the shin guards and spray or wipe them with the vinegar solution. Let them sit for a few minutes, then rinse with clean water and air dry.

Getting Odor Out of the Soccer bag

Odor-causing bacteria and fungi are quick to spread and multiply in the dark recesses of soccer bags and backpacks. Here’s what you can do about it.

  1. Most soccer bags or backpacks can be machine-washed but be sure to check the label. Before placing in the washer, unzip all the zippers and place the soccer bag in a mesh bag or pillowcase. Use a mild, non-bleach detergent on gentle cycle. You should always let the bag air-dry.

  2. Bag Dog, like its Shoe Dogs counterpart, is a soccer bag deodorizer that prevents odors and mildew from growing in your travel bag or backpack. Bag Dog is filled with moisture absorbing fibers and scented cedar chips. It easily attaches to the inside of the soccer bag to eliminate odors.

  3. To prevent odors from building up in the future, establish a routine of cleaning and airing out your soccer bag regularly. After each use, remove any wet or sweaty items, and allow the bag to dry completely before storing it.

Remember, just because your child wants to play soccer doesn’t mean you have to put up with smelly gear.


At European Sports, we’re all about making soccer fun and affordable for your entire family. Stop by one of our soccer specialty stores located in Schaumburg, Glen Ellyn and Naperville, to find everything you need to get your family ready for soccer.

Soccer tips