How to Keep Sports Equipment Smelling Fresh

Are you having trouble keeping your kids’ sports gear fresh? Is it starting to make your house and car smell too?

Our friends at Kobi compiled some hacks to help you fend off that dreaded funk for as long as possible! Kobi creates better body care products for kids and teens. They’re experts on youth hygiene, including how to keep your child and their gear smelling fresh.

What causes sports gear to stink?

Is it really our body sweat that causes our shoes, pads, helmets, gloves, and other pieces of sports equipment to smell so bad? Well, sort of, but indirectly. The stink formula actually looks something like this:

Sweat = Moisture = Bacteria = Smelly Gear

So you see, it’s really the pesky bacteria that like to come along and feed on our sweat (gross, I know) that cause the stink. Then, when left untreated, those odors can become ingrained in the fabric, resulting in the unpleasant lingering smells we’ve all experienced.

For the freshest gear, the goal then is to 1) get rid of the odor-causing bacteria that are already there and 2) keep moisture at bay to stop them from coming back. Here’s how to do just that.

Do regular spray-downs

A good antimicrobial foot or shoe spray will neutralize any lingering bacteria and remove that stubborn odor along with it. There are many options on the market — including Kobi’s Fresh Foot Spray — but it’s also possible to make your own by pouring a 50/50 blend of rubbing alcohol and water into a spray bottle, along with a few drops of the essential oil of your choice, and shaking it up. Spray stinky items liberally and let them dry completely before use.

Store them in a dry, well-ventilated area

Good air movement is essential for keeping items fresh because it helps dry them out and carries away odor particles. But, kids have a tendency to just leave their sweaty shoes and gear sitting in their backpack or sports bag — or under a pile of clothes on their bedroom floor. When this happens the items can’t dry out, and that trapped moisture leads to stink! For maximum air flow, store items on hangers, near an air vent, or even outside (as long as it’s not humid or raining).

Give them a break

We know it can be tempting for your kids to wear their favorite gear over and over again, but one of the best things to do to keep items fresh is to give them a break. Alternating between different pairs of shoes or pads will give them more time to dry out and freshen up before their next use. This approach will not only keep the stink away, it’ll also extend the life of your kids’ gear.

Cut down on moisture with powder

Powdering up your kids’ feet and/or shoes before a game will help absorb sweat and neutralize foot funk before it even has a chance to soak into their shoes. Powder can also be great in gloves and helmets to keep things fresh and dry while improving grip. Look for a talc-free powder that contains deodorizing ingredients, such as Kobi’s 4-in-1 Body Powder.

Additional tips for extra-stinky shoes, skates, and cleats

Wear socks

Sometimes kids want to slip their shoes on without socks — and for some shoe types it’s kind of necessary — but whenever possible, have them wear socks! Why? They’re a great protective layer between your kids’ feet and their shoes, and they absorb a lot of that sweat and foot odor that would otherwise get embedded in their shoes. Plus, socks are a lot easier to wash than shoes are.

Remove insoles between uses

Did you know that most shoe insoles nowadays — particularly the ones that come with sports shoes — are removable? Moisture and odor can get trapped in that little space between the bottom of the insole and the sole of the shoe, so taking the insoles out will definitely help your shoes dry more thoroughly and prevent any sneaky pockets of odor. Some insoles are washable, too.

Stuff them with cedar blocks or paper

If your kids’ shoes are extra-moist when they take them off, putting something inside the shoes to help absorb moisture can limit the odor that develops. Cedar blocks or shoe trees do a pretty good job of this by soaking up sweat and imparting a light, cedar scent. Another option is charcoal bags that are widely available nowadays online and in shoe stores. In a pinch, you could also scrunch up some newspaper or paper towels and stuff their shoes with that.

By following these tips, your kids’ sports equipment will never smell the same again — and that’s a beautiful thing.

Kobi makes natural body care products to help young athletes look and feel their best. Their kid-safe deodorant, face wash, body wash, and more have been designed to be gentle on sensitive skin while keeping kids fresh throughout their active lives. Find them online at

Graphic with a gray background and a variety of sports equipment on the top and bottom of the square graphic. Graphic reads, "Keep Sports Equipment Smelling Fresh."