Football player wearing low profile shoulder pads.

How To Clean Football Shoulder Pads | The Ultimate Guide

Want to get rid of the smell in your shoulder pads?

In this guide, we’ll show you how to clean and dry your shoulder pads, allowing you to remove dirt and completely eliminate smells.

Here are the steps involved:


Football player wearing low profile shoulder pads.

Before you begin cleaning your shoulder pads, you’ll want to gather the cleaning products needed for the job.

You’ll need to get a few soft microfiber cloths to wipe down the plastic surfaces. Don’t use anything abrasive like the rough side of a sponge that could scratch the plastic or the foam on your pads.


Next, choose a cleanser to use to wipe down the pads.

A mild detergent or dishwashing soap will work nicely. By mixing the soap or detergent into a container of warm water, you can create a nice soapy solution that you can use to clean the pads.


Finally, select a disinfecting spray, as well as a deodorizing spray.

These products help combat bacteria growth, eliminating odors that can develop in your shoulder pads.

Some products, such as Clear Gear spray, work well as both a disinfectant and deodorizer, but regular household products like Clorox wipes and Fabreeze will work as well.


It’s also important that you break the pads down as much as possible. This will depend on how they’re designed, but with most shoulder pads, you should be able to remove at least some of the hard plastics.

Doing so will make the pads much easier to clean. However, don’t completely disassemble them if it’s going to be difficult to put them back together.

Removing dirt and grime

Quarterback about to throw a football.

As a first step, you’ll want to remove any surface-level dirt or residue that has built up on your shoulder pads.

Wipe down the plastic shell with your soapy water and soft cloth or microfiber pad. Make sure you get all of the edges and ridges so that you don’t miss anything.

Scrub any stubborn spots with the cloth until all of the dirt is gone. To remove scuffs, try a cleaning pad like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which is great for removing plastic transfer and scrapes.

If the pads still feel greasy after a good scrub due to sweat or skin oil, adding a little more soap to your mixture can help cut through the grease.


Once the pads are clean, wipe down all of the wet surfaces with a dry cloth – as we’ll discuss below, keeping your pads dry is the best way to combat the development of mold and other bacteria.

Disinfecting and deodorizing

Now that your pads are looking great, you’ll want to make sure you get rid of any bacteria and odors as well.

Disinfecting and deodorizing your pads are crucial steps that should ideally be done after every use to prevent the buildup of smells and bacteria. However, it’ fine to do it every few weeks or so at a minimum as a part of a proper clean.

Spray the entire surface of the pads (inside and out) with a disinfecting spray, or wipe them down with disinfecting wipes.


Check your product to see what antibacterial properties it has. Some disinfectants will only eliminate bacteria, but others will kill fungus, microbes and mold as well. Additionally, some disinfecting products are also deodorizers, which saves you the trouble of dealing with two different products.


If you’re using separate disinfecting and deodorizing products, apply the deodorizer after the disinfectant. You’ll want to focus the deodorizer on the soft, padded areas that can be permeated by sweat, as the hard plastic shells don’t normally retain very many odors.

Once you’ve disinfected and deodorized your pads, they need to dry. Then they’ll be ready for your next big game day or practice.

Drying the pads

Football player wearing shoulder pads.

This is an incredibly important step.

Once your pads are nice and clean, you need to let them dry to prevent odor and bacteria buildup.

You should never just shove damp pads into a locker, gear bag or other enclosed space. First, rub them down with a towel to remove as much moisture as possible.

Then, let the pads dry completely in an open area. There are special racks and hangers like the one below made specifically for drying and storing football gear like chest protectors and football pants, but you can easily just use space in your garage or basement.


Put your pads in front of a fan or near a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.

Or, if it’s sunny, put your pads outside on a dry surface like a driveway or patio and let the sun do the work for you. The quicker your pads dry, the less time there is for bacteria, mold and odors to develop. Remember to turn them over after 30 minutes or so to dry both sides.

However, you don’t want to put your shoulder pads in the dryer. While it might be tempting, the intense heat from a dryer can damage the foam and deteriorate the fabric in your shoulder pads. Let your pads dry naturally, with a little help from a fan/dehumidifier or the sun.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top