How to Clean Shin Guards: A Step By Step Guide

how to clean shin guards

Shin guards are an essential piece of equipment for athletes offering protection to the shins from potential injuries. However, after several uses, shin guards can accumulate sweat, dirt, and bacteria, leading to unpleasant odors and potential skin irritations. Regular cleaning not only extends the lifespan of shin guards but also ensures hygiene and comfort. So here we provide step-by-step instructions on how to clean shin guards effectively.

Types of Shin Guards

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s important to identify the type of shin guards you have, as the material can affect how you should clean them:

  • Plastic Shin Guards: Common in soccer, these shin guards typically have a hard plastic shell with foam padding on the back.
  • Foam Shin Guards: Light and flexible, foam shin guards are used in various sports, including soccer for young players.
  • Fiberglass Shin Guards: These offer a balance between protection and weight, with a hard exterior and some flexibility.
  • Carbon Fiber Shin Guards: The lightest and most protective, but also the most expensive, these are used by professional athletes.

Step By Step Cleaning Instructions

Plastic, Fiberglass, and Carbon Fiber Shin Guards

Materials Needed:

  • Mild soap (dish soap or laundry detergent)
  • Warm water
  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Disinfectant spray (optional)
  • Towel


  1. Prepare Cleaning Solution: Mix a few drops of mild soap with warm water in a bucket or sink.
  2. Wipe Down: Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the soapy water and wring out excess liquid. Gently wipe the surface of the shin guards to remove dirt and sweat. Avoid soaking the shin guards, as excess water can damage the padding.
  3. Rinse: After wiping, rinse the shin guards with a clean, damp cloth to remove any soap residue.
  4. Disinfect (Optional): For a deeper clean, especially during flu season or after illness, spray the shin guards with a disinfectant spray. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping off with a clean cloth.
  5. Dry: Pat the shin guards dry with a towel. Then, let them air dry completely before using them again. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, as this can warp or damage the material.

Foam Shin Guards

Materials Needed:

  • Mild soap
  • Warm water
  • Soft brush (optional)
  • Towel


  1. Soak: Fill a sink or bucket with warm water and add a mild soap. Submerge the foam shin guards and let them soak for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Gentle Scrub: If there are stubborn spots, gently scrub them with a soft brush or cloth. Avoid using harsh brushes that can damage the foam.
  3. Rinse: Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap.
  4. Dry: Press the shin guards between towels to remove excess water. Then, let them air dry completely, preferably in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.

Maintenance Tips

  • Air Out After Use: Always air out your shin guards after use to prevent the buildup of bacteria and odors.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Do not use bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can degrade the materials of the shin guards.
  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your shin guards regularly, depending on the frequency of use, to maintain hygiene and durability.

By following these cleaning and maintenance tips, you can ensure that your shin guards remain in good condition, offering protection and comfort during your sporting activities.

What If My Shin Guards Are Machine Washable?

If your shin guards are labeled as machine washable, cleaning them becomes even easier and more convenient. Machine washing can be an effective method to thoroughly clean and deodorize your shin guards without too much effort. Here’s how to do it properly to ensure they come out clean and remain in good shape:

Preparing Your Shin Guards for the Washing Machine

  1. Check Manufacturer’s Instructions: Always start by checking the care label or manufacturer’s instructions. This will confirm that the shin guards are indeed machine washable and provide specific recommendations regarding water temperature and drying.
  2. Pre-Clean: If there’s visible dirt or mud on the shin guards, brush it off or wipe them down with a damp cloth. This prevents excessive dirt from entering your washing machine.
  3. Secure Velcro Straps: If your shin guards have Velcro straps or closures, secure them before washing. This prevents the Velcro from attaching to other items or damaging the shin guards.
  4. Use a Mesh Laundry Bag: Placing shin guards in a mesh laundry bag helps to protect them and other items in the wash. It prevents the shin guards from banging around inside the machine, which could potentially damage both the shin guards and the washing machine.

Machine Washing Your Shin Guards

  1. Select a Gentle Cycle: Use a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine to prevent potential damage to the shin guards. These settings are less harsh and use lower spin speeds.
  2. Cold Water: Opt for cold water to prevent any potential damage to the shin guards. Hot water could warp the plastic or damage the material, especially for shin guards with foam padding or sensitive materials.
  3. Mild Detergent: Use a mild, bleach-free detergent to avoid damaging the shin guards. Harsh chemicals or bleach can degrade the materials over time.
  4. Avoid Fabric Softeners: Do not use fabric softeners, as they can leave a residue on the shin guards that might affect their breathability or comfort.

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