Most sports equipment is made of tough materials and can stand getting dirty and scuffed. In fact, over-cleaning can be as much of a problem as under-cleaning, since racquets, balls, skis and other sporting goods often contain finely calibrated, high-tech materials. The trick is knowing not just how to clean your sports gear, but how often to do it.
1. To clean a baseball glove
Brush away dirt with a stiff-bristled leather-care brush, available from shoe stores.
If the glove gets muddy, let the mud dry and then brush it off.
Don’t use water on your leather glove.
If your glove gets rained on, let it dry naturally in a warm, well-ventilated place. Don’t put it on or near a heater or fireplace, as heat causes leather to stiffen and crack.
After the glove has dried, use lanolin or a lanolin-based shaving cream to soften the leather.
2. To clean an outdoor basketball
Use a cloth and a solution of water and dishwashing liquid.
When clean, rinse the basketball with plain water and air-dry.
3. To care for a football
When your football, which is usually made of synthetic leather, gets dirty, wipe it with a moist rag.
If it gets wet, air-dry it. Don’t use a heat source such as a hair dryer or a heater to dry a football.
4. To keep golf clubs clean
Wipe the dirt and mud off them after each day of golfing.
Use a cloth and plain water or a mild solution of dishwashing liquid and water.
Rinse by wiping with a wet cloth.
Try not to get the leather grips wet.
Large deposits of dirt on your clubs can affect your game, so keep a moist cloth handy while playing to spot-clean after digging up divots.
5. To clean a synthetic golf bag
Wipe it with plain water or the same mild, soapy solution recommended for golf clubs.
Remember to vacuum out the bottom and the pockets occasionally.
6. To keep hockey gear in good working order
The most important thing is to allow it to dry properly — which means letting gear dry naturally, not with the help of an additional heat source.
After each game, dry and store pads (hanging them, if possible) and the stick in an upright position.
Dry ice hockey skates with a cloth after each use to avoid rusting.
Wipe visors clean with a moist cloth after each use.
7. To clean skis and poles
Wipe them down with a moist rag (you can use a soapy solution of warm water and dishwashing liquid), rinse them and then dry with a dry rag.
Wax your skis every few times you use them.
When you wax them, clean the bases either by using a spray-on and wipe-off base cleaner or by putting on hot wax with an old iron and scraping it off with a plastic scraper before it has dried. (Once you’ve used an iron for waxing, never use it on clothes.)
After you ski, always dry your skis and poles with a cloth to keep them from rusting.
8. To clean a soccer ball
Just wipe it off with a moist cloth.
9. To clean a tennis racquet
Or a squash or badminton racquet, wipe it with a damp cloth.
Don’t get the strings wet, because moisture can ruin them.
Try not to wet the leather grip either, as moisture can take away the grip’s tackiness and make it slippery.
Instead, wipe perspiration off with a dry cloth.