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How to Wash and Clean MMA Shin Guards? (Plus Tips)

Just like MMA gloves, MMA shin guards are also one of the essential equipment for MMA training and we use them quite often so these get our sweat, blood, someone else’s sweat… So not cleaning them is not only really disgusting it can also affect your health badly. I know very well that just because of this reason many fighters get skin infections.

And below you can find quite effective methods for how to wash and clean your MMA shin guards. I cleaned my shin guards with using some of the methods below and these worked like a charm. I also included a very popular video for cleaning shin guards.

The cleaning techniques below can be applied to every shin guard type including MMA, Muay Thai, soccer, hockey, and so on. As long as you check out the materials you are good to go.

Also, I do training very frequently and if you are like me, your next session may be really close and you may have only one set of shin guards. So you need to dry them faster. And below you can read ways to do it as well.

There are also a few things to avoid for using your shin guards longer and at the end, you can read them.

how to clean mma shin guards

Wash them in A Washing Machine


This is no brainer. You can throw your shin guards in a washing machine and wash them. However, there are shin guards which are made of quite rough materials like medical grade silicone, plastic etc. A good example would be Hayabusa T3 Striking Shin Guards. So it can hurt the washing machine and definitely consider putting them in some sort of bag which allows water and protects your washing machine at the same time. Thanks to that, your shin guards can also stay looking cool after the washing as well. Many striking shin guards actually need to be really hard so these are needed to be in a bag during washing. However many grappling shin guards are soft and you don’t need to it for them. The grappling shin guard type is a good example for this. These tend to have softer construction because while grappling or kicking your opponent, these make less harm.

Can you Wash Shin Guards in a Washing Machine? As long as the materials are suitable for it (read the paragraph above) you can. If it is soft, you don’t even need to put them in a bag. However, choose a cycle which has a low spin. So you can lower the chances of hurting both your washing machine and shin guards.

Alternative Methods to clean Synthetic Leather, Neoprene… Shin Guards 

The Soaking Method: The synthetic leather is the easiest type to clean. Sink them in soapy water and these need to be in the solution 20 minutes. It is more than enough. Because leaving your shin guards in it more than 20 minutes does not have almost any effect since it loses the ability to clean after it. However just make sure that these shin guards sink fully. The synthetic leather is also suitable to clean with antibacterial wipes.

These materials will not have defects after you apply this method.

Considering that you check the materials, you can always add detergent to this solution. It is just more effective to stop molding.

There are cleaning benefits of sun however your fancy shin guards’ colors can fade when they are placed in direct sunlight. Also, genuine leather shin guards might smell funky which can be impossible to get rid of. So just avoid placing your shin guards in direct sunlight.

Use Baking Soda: Baking soda has properties to get rid of the smell, clean your shin guards. It can work for many other gears including MMA cups etc. However, adjust it in a way that it covers all the outer and inner shell of the shin guard and wait for a day. Yes, this duration can be long and it depends on how stinky your shin guards are!

Deodorizers: After cleaning them, you can use deodorizers to get rid of all the remaining bacteria, dirt, and stains. It basically provides better hygiene. These deodorizers also have properties to remove the odor as well. So if you are not satisfied with the methods above, after deodorizing your shin guards there is a high chance that you will not have any cleaning or odor problem. Because the deodorizers have a strong formula to break down the molecules so when a shin guard has a stubborn stain, it can make the stain disappear. The deodorizers also do not get rid of the smell for a while (masking the smell). These actually get rid of it. Since the solution breaks down the molecules and basically the smell disappears after a couple of sprays. I also have used deodorizers for a long time and if you are training in a hot climate or sweat a lot, deodorizer should be definitely involved in the cleaning process.

Keep in mind that some of these deodorizers may include bleachers which may harm your shin guard. Colors can fade faster and it can be bad for the leather. For example, Hayabusa Kanpeki has top-notch genuine leather and it is quite smooth. Using bleacher for that shin guard would be a really big mistake as it destroys the construction. If you do something like that you may as well flush money down the toilet.

Central PA Mixed Martial Arts has an awesome video which explains cleaning of all the MMA gears in one video! He also tells some interesting stories which will probably motivate you to clean your equipment regularly.

 

Ways to Speed up the Process

If you want them to dry faster, there are a couple of ways to do it. You can place newspaper, cotton pieces on shin guards and these can wick the moisture. There are glove dogs which can be found online easily or even many shoe stores have them. These also work like cotton pieces and in addition to that, these also leave a nice scent like lavender.

You can also leave your shin guards in front of a fan so your shin guards will be ready for your next session. A dryer is also an obvious option and as long as you set it one of the cool settings it can definitely shorten this period.

can you wash mma and muay thai shin guards

Improve the Durability

Obviously, you want to train with your shin guards as long as possible.

Before you put your MMA shin guards to your gym bag, wipe the sweat with a napkin. I know that after a session you might be exhausted and have really sore legs. You may just want to drink some cold water, get back to your home, and rest. I totally get it. However, doing this can improve the durability significantly and prevent it from smelling in the first place. Also, your gym bag gets less sweat and if you are carrying other stuff like sunglasses, these are less likely to smell or get dirty. Drying them also prevents bacteria invade your bag as well. If the sweat gets to your gym bag then you also need to clean your bag. Because I am guessing you don’t want to spread the bacteria all over your other gears, do you?

If your gym bag allows air in and out, this helps with the odor and prevents fungus to grow. So your gym bag should have small holes or be made of materials like mesh to provide constant air circulation,

Secondly, do you know what happens if you don’t wipe them after you finish your training? These can smell a lot and if you don’t have this habit, your shin guards’ color may fade sooner and many materials (other than neoprene, which is water resistant), are generally not waterproof or yours just may have poor construction. In this case, you are lucky to use your shin guards for more than 6 months! So dry them with napkins, cotton… after the workouts.

When to get new MMA Shin Guards?


If there are defects which can be seen easily or some hard points which can damage a heavy bag or kick shields you need brand new shin guards. Your sparring partners can also get infections, skin diseases, cuts if these have rough points.

Also sometimes you just can’t get rid of the odor even if you implement the techniques above and if the smell is unbearable, it is time to replace them.

These can be the reasons to get new shin guards.

Check Out Best MMA Shin Guards

Avoid This!

So I think everyone is aware of that the shin guards generally can’t be washed at high temperatures as it can damage to cover material and potentially the foam.

The Final Tip: Before you do any of the methods in this writing read the label of your shin guards.  Because there can be an ideal way to do clean these and you may just do that.

These methods help you clean your hockey, Muay Thai, MMA shin guards and get rid of the odor effectively. As you may have seen in my other writings, I have been using these methods for 2 years and don’t forget that I train in a gym which does not have enough air conditioners and this gym happens to be in Thailand! So I cleaned them quite frequently and these methods above did not affect the construction or durability badly. As long as you know which one to use, you will not have any issues whatsoever.

Image Courtesy of Micheal0424 and Tibaexpo via Creative Commons License, Some Rights Reserved
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Reader Comments

  1. Hygiene is a must when dealing with anything that touches or is near your skin. The amount of infections you can avoid simply by washing items is huge. You might not think that your legs are open or prone to getting bacteria in your blood stream. However even the slightest nick or bug bite is enough to allow the harmful bacteria into your skin. People have died from sepsis due to infection getting in their blood. You never know when a mosquito will bite. If you have foreign bacteria on your skin this could cause sepsis. This is wonderful information to prevent bacteria from growing in your gear.

    1. You are absolutely right about everything you just said.

      You may never know when you are vulnerable to infections. Sometimes even clothes cut your skin and you may never know it until it is too late. But the good thing is that providing hygiene is actually quite simple and if you do the methods above you can be sure that you will train with clean martial arts gear!

  2. Hi Furkan,

    I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so keeping all of your equipment clean while training is definitely a struggle for me. While we do not typically use shin guards, we do use other similar equipment and I really appreciate your tips. Keeping everything clean is so important. Not to mention there is nothing worse than training with a guy who doesn’t clean his gear. Thanks.

    1. Yeah, I hear you man. It sucks to grapple with an opponent who stinks. You literally need to call them out as soon as possible.

  3. Hi Furkan, thank you for a great article and very useful tips.

    I recently bought my shin pads and I was wondering what is the best way to clean them and remove the odor. I am so happy I found your site through Google search, you have given me the information I was searching for.

    Keep up the good work!

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