How to maintain your volleyball gear. Don’t have smelly gear ever again

Volleyball players don’t have a ton of equipment: socks, shoes, shorts, t-shirts, underwear, knee pads. Optionally, they also have arm sleeves (or arm pads) and a hairband. It is important that you maintain these as they can get discolored or get a bad smell. In this post, we will discuss what I have learned from playing volleyball for a few decades. I have had a few mishaps along the way. Let’s dive in so that you never have to play with smelly gear. 

Most volleyball players train 2 times every week. There is often 1 match every week as well. In most instances, you get the matching gear from the club and it is also maintained by them so you don’t have to wash these shorts and shirts. 

After every training and match you should do the following:

Socks: you can just wash these in the washing machine and dry them in the sun or drying machine. Socks don’t last that long and you might have to replace them after 3 months as they start to get too stretchy. I have multiple socks so even if I don’t have time to wash them after the training, I can still wear fresh ones.

This is really important as your shoes might start to smell if you don’t wear fresh socks every time. Socks don’t cost a lot of money and you can even be safe if you buy them in bulk. Therefore it is a good idea to do so. This makes sure that you always have spare ones at hand.

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

Shoes: you should take your shoes out of your backpack so that they can dry. If possible, you can set them in the sun so that they can dry that way.

Shoes can get smelly. You can read the washing instructions to see they are machine washable. If not, you can often wash them by hand. It is important that your shoes retain their shape after you have washed them, therefore it is necessary to use shoe trees. These make sure that your shoes don’t deform due to the water. You also have special sprays to reduce the odor in shoes. Replacing the sole with a new one can help to reduce the smell as well. 

Shirt and pants: these are often machine washable and can be dried in the drying machine. Be careful that you don’t damage the print when you iron them. 

Underwear: these often have to be washed by hand, especially if they are made out of delicate materials. Be sure to check the washing instructions. 

 Arm sleeves: these are often machine washable and can be dried in the drying machine.  Check the washing instructions before doing so as some materials might not be able to withstand the heat so you might not want to iron them.

 Clean out your backpack: sometimes you brought a banana or other food and this can make your backpack dirty. Also, be careful with shampoo because this can be all over your gear if you don’t close it properly. Getting everything out of your backpack is essential after every training. This makes sure that nothing smelly remains there that can stain your backpack. 

Wash your hairband: An unwashed hairband can give a nasty look as these have to which a lot of sweat. If you don’t wash this regularly, you will get yellow stains on them. That is really dirty and everyone can see it as this is just above your head.

Hairbands often don’t last that long and I would recommend that you get multiple ones to switch from time to time. White ones might discolor quite fast so it could be a good idea to pick a headband that has a darker color. 

Wash your drinking bottle. These can get nasty quite fast if you never wash them. There are special brushes to do this and you can also use washing tabs for this. 

Sports glasses: if you wear sports glasses you can wash them under streaming water and clean them with a clean towel afterward. It is important that there are no scratches or stains on them as these can blur your vision. These should last for a long period of time. Don’t forget to clean the rubber band that goes around your head as well as a lot of players never clean this and it can get nasty if you never replace these.

It is always a great idea to bring a spare of every item. It is possible that your washing machine malfunctioned or that you don’t wash them well and that they are still smelly. If you have a spare one, you can simply pick that item and use it instead.

This has already saved me a lot of embarrassment as I often wash things quickly and from time to time the result is not that great. Now I try to check before I leave for the training or match if my items are clean enough to play with. 

How to wash and get rid of volleyball knee pad smells. How to maintain them well.

Volleyball knee pads are quite difficult to maintain as they retain a lot of sweat. After every training, I take them out and let them rest in the sun. Some people use talk powder on them to get a good smell but this is not something that I do.

They often contain gels and foams that make it impossible to wash them in the machine. Therefore you have to hand wash them. Be sure to check the washing instructions for your knee pads but here is what works for me: simply fill a bucket with hot water and add some soap to it. Let your knee pads rest in them overnight. Once you get them out after this, you dry them in the sun. 

You have to replace knee pads quite regularly as they can crackdown under the pressure and also because they start to discolor. After a few washes, the rubber bands get loser and they don’t keep in place that well anymore. Knee pads are not that expensive and it is often better to replace them than try to fix them.

If they really smell bad after washing them, I would just throw them away and buy new ones. They might be drenched in sweat that is almost impossible to get out of them. Believe me, I have tried to wash smelly knee pads multiple times but sometimes it is just impossible to reduce the smell. You can use several products and sprays on them but these solutions are often just temporary. 

I replace my knee pads every 2 to 3 months and this makes sure that these are in working condition and don’t smell too much. You hit the ground with these and you also bring them to a lof places so it is normal that these break down after a while. 

Some knee pads allow you to remove the gel and this makes them easier to maintain. If you notice that you have to spend a lot of money on knee pads because you replace them often, this might be a solution to lower your cost. You can sometimes even keep the gell and just buy new fabric.

Photo by Katerina on Unsplash

 The advantage of smaller knee pads is that they are often easier to maintain than bigger ones. Therefore you might consider looking at smaller ones if these are comfortable for you to play with as well. You can try them in the store and see if it works for you. They often provide less support but might be easier to play with.

How to wash a volleyball  

You will have to wash your volleyball every month if you want to keep it clean. Indoor volleyballs are a lot easier to maintain than outdoor volleyballs as the first doesn’t have to deal with mud, grass, or rocks that can make the ball dirty or even damage it.

A volleyball can be washed under streaming water. Don’t make the water too hot as some balls are not able to handle that. You can use soap and a brush to go over it. Be careful that you don’t break the valve while doing this. Some spots that remain dirty, can often be cleaned with a wet wipe with some additional soap. 

If the ball is stitched, you have to be careful around these so that you don’t break them. Stitches are often not that strong and you should put too much force on them. 

If the ball is made out of foam, you have to make sure that you don’t push too hard on it as the foam can start tearing. Give it a gentle wipe and clean it off that way.

If the ball is made out of leather, you can use shoe polish for leather to remove some dirt stains. You will have to let this dry for a long period of time before you play with it again. Don’t use this on the whole ball, just on small spots that remain dirty after washing them. There are also leather sprays that can help to keep your ball looking nicely. 

Afterward, you can use a towel to clean the ball.   

It is quite difficult to keep a volleyball spotless if you play with it outside. A lot of dirt and grime can build up. If you want a spotless volleyball, it is best to buy a darker color as the dirt will be less visible on these. White volleyballs are quite difficult to maintain as they pick up a lot of sweat and therefore they discolor quite quickly.

Also, check the ball pressure when you wash the ball. If the pressure is too low, your ball can break quite easily. It shouldn’t be too high either. Try to follow the requirements of the manufacturer. These are often printed on the ball itself. 

Volleyballs often get quite dirty after a year. There is nothing much that you can do about this as they get in contact with a lot of sweat and dirt. You can still play with a discolored ball so it is more an aesthetical problem.

To conclude, we can say that it is necessary to clean your volleyball gear after every training and every match. These things have to deal with a lot of wear-and-tear so they might not last that long. Therefore you have to check if they have cracks or breaks in them and replace them if this is the case. You don’t have a lot of gear in volleyball so you better maintain it. Nothing is more annoying than knee pads that suddenly break during a match or a t-shirt that smells really foul during training. You don’t want the reputation of being someone that doesn’t take care of himself.