How to Clean Football Pads

Goal Line Scramble

Football pads get smelly from absorbing the player’s sweat. Regular washing of the body pads keeps odor and bacteria growth down. You can cut down on the frequency of laundering pads to once or twice a week during football season if you allow the pads to dry completely after each practice. Shoulder pads can be professionally cleaned at the end of every season as they contain materials that cannot go into the wash. With the correct care, football pads stay in good shape for many seasons.

Body Pads

Remove sweaty pants pads from the football pants after practice or a game and set them on a towel to dry. If the football pants have sewn-in, built-in pads, hang the pants on a clothesline or over the back of a chair to dry.

Remove the belt and pads from the pants. If the football pants have non-removable, built-in pads sewn into the pants, leave the pads inside the pants and launder and dry them as one piece.

Launder the pants pads -- if they're removable -- along with the belt, pants and jersey in a washing machine set on cold water, using regular bleach-free laundry detergent.

Lay the pants pads flat on a towel to air-dry, or dry pants with non-removable pads on a clothesline or over the back of a chair. Alternatively, you can dry pads and pants in a clothes dryer set on low-heat, along with the belt, pants and jersey.

Replace the pants pads and belt into the pants after drying.

Shoulder Pads

Take sweaty shoulder pads out of the gear bag, once you get home from a practice or a game. Set the shoulder pads on the floor to let them dry. Drying football pads is important to reduce the growth of bacteria and mold.

Wipe dirt off shoulder pads with a rag dampened with water. Dry the shoulder pads with a dry rag after you have finished cleaning them. Remove stubborn streaks and disinfect football shoulder pads, by cleaning them with an athletic disinfectant gear cleaning solution or a household disinfectant cleaning solution labeled safe to use on plastics, following the cleaning solution manufacturer's directions.

Take your pads to be professionally cleaned after the season is over. They will be reconditioned and sanitized. The cushions will be removed from the hard plastic shell and washed in 140 degree water and the shell will be inspected for cracks and then cleaned with an anti-bacterial solution.


Spray the gear bag with athletic gear disinfectant or a household disinfectant spray and let it dry before placing the pads and other football gear back into it. The Environmental Protection Agency website lists disinfectant sprays approved to kill MRSA and other drug-resistant bacteria that may be found on football equipment.

Store clean and dry football pads and other gear in the dry, disinfected gear bag. Leave the gear bag unzipped until you are ready to go to practice, which keeps the gear ventilated and reduces the chances of bacteria growth.


Football players and other athletes who play contact sports frequently are exposed to open skin wounds of other players, making them at a higher risk of contracting MRSA and other bacterial infections, says a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training. Cleaning gear and using disinfectants may minimize the risks of a player developing MRSA.