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What's That Smell?

hockey players in locker room

I don’t know about you but it makes me gag every time my skater opens his bag or tries to hug me after a game.  Same when I’m near any group of players at the rink. There’s always that one player who walks by and my eyes water because the smell is so strong.

Try walking into our locker room when all our players come off the ice and all the bags are open.  It’s OVERWHELMING!

For whatever reason, hockey players seem to take pride in their smell.  I don’t get it and whether I have a sensitive nose like my player thinks I do or not, I’ve been perplexed by it.  He played football and wrestled.  Our oldest daughter played softball almost daily for years.  Our younger daughter played and continues to play and coach soccer.  No other sport smells like hockey.  Have you ever wondered why hockey equipment and hockey players smell so bad? 

Hockey players sweat.  Well, duh??!!  But don’t all athletes sweat?  The answer to that question is YES.  So what’s the difference, I asked.

Believe it or not, hockey players and hockey parents treat hockey uniforms and equipment differently than other athletes and parents.  Hockey players get off the ice, shove their uniform and equipment in a bag, zip the bag up, carry the bag to the car, out of the car to the house (maybe), back to the car, and then take it out to put their stuff back on.   No air, no wash, no nothing.  EWW!  This is where the smell comes in.  It’s not the sweat itself but the bacteria that has a field day in wet or damp uniforms and equipment.

I’m not telling anyone how to handle their player’s uniform or equipment but here’s a list of what is recommended along with what I use to limit the smell. 


Toss in a few cheap, smelly dryer sheets every week.  My guy isn’t always fond of the lavender smell but they do help.  I also empty the bag every week and set it outside. 


Wipe and dry.  Lysol wipes!  I then let it air dry overnight.  Keeps “stink head” to a minimum. Helps with breakouts as well.


Air those babies out!!  Every article about hockey smell mentions skates as one of the primary sources of stink.  I put these outside as soon as possible and leave them until late at night.  When I bring them back in, they are left outside the bag as long as possible.  If I think about it, I toss a dryer sheet.  Another hockey Mom mentioned using shoe deodorizer balls. 


If nothing else, air them out.  I toss these in my washer and dry at the highest setting.  This is the other piece of equipment mentioned specifically in every article I’ve read.  Many articles mention “hockey hands” and/or MRSA.


Wash and dry.  If you can’t do that, airing all this out helps. 


Wash and dry.  If you can’t do that every time, airing out helps.




Kathleen Campbell
Kathleen Campbell, Tri-City Eagles

Kathleen is the parent of one ice hockey player who is in his third season as an Eagle on the U16 Blue team. She has over 30 years of administrative management experience in positions focused on developing best practices and harnessing available technologies. Kathleen is looking forward to working closely with coaches and team managers to more effectively and efficiently communicate with one another, individual teams and the Tri-City Eagles organization. 

Sports in this article

Ice Hockey