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Training in martial arts is one of the best decisions you can make to improve yourself. Not only are martial arts a great way to get in better shape, learn new skills and improve your self-defense abilities, they’re also a ton of fun. Unfortunately, with a great workout comes an inevitable side effect – sweating.
After a hard martial arts class it’s not uncommon to walk off the mat covered in sweat – which means any gear you were touching/wearing is sweaty too. Without proper cleaning, that sweaty gear can begin to smell and worse, serve as a breeding ground for bacteria. If you let those gloves, gi and other gear go unwashed, even for a day or two, you’re asking for trouble.
Why Proper Gear Cleaning is Essential
Taking care of your gear after every class is a must. While many new students would never think of not properly cleaning a pair of loaner gloves, once they get their own pair, too many tend to neglect the details of proper care.
The problems which arise from improper gear cleaning are twofold. The most obvious symptom of improper cleaning is the smell. Nobody wants to be the person in class known for having stinky boxing gloves. If your sweat is left to sit on your gear after class it will begin to seep into the material, and once the funk is in it’s nearly impossible to get out, which is why you have to clean as soon as possible after every class.
The more serious threat is also easier to miss because you can’t see it. Just like every gym should be cleaning its mats after every session, you should be doing the same with your gear. The sweaty, damp atmosphere is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, and in arts where you are in close contact with partners it’s easy to transmit problems if they aren’t cleaned away. Using dirty gear is unfair not only to yourself, but also to everyone else at the gym.
How to Clean Boxing Gloves
Gloves are some of the sweatiest gear around, as they fit snugly around your hands all class with nowhere for sweat to trickle away too. Unfortunately, many new students do not know how to clean boxing gloves effectively.
One important thing to remember is that the outside of your gloves needs to be cleaned just as much as the inside. Start the cleaning process by wiping off any sweat then use disinfectant wipes or a disinfectant spray to kill any bacteria on the gloves.
Don’t neglect the interior of your gloves! For non-machine washable gloves, use a disinfectant spray. Undo the wrist straps and open the gloves as wide as you can, and point the nozzle inside the gloves, again, getting it as far down the gloves as possible. Wipe it out with a dry rag. If you have the time, you can leave pieces of balled-up newspaper stuffed into the gloves to help dry them out; however, this will not help disinfect them.
The best option for keeping your gloves clean is to invest in a machine-washable, dryer-safe pair. Century carries a selection of machine-washable gloves options, including multiple pairs from the Brave line and of course the colorful Strive boxing and Strive fitness gloves! Being able to simply throw dirty gloves into the washer and dryer with your gym clothes is both easier and more effective for thorough cleaning.
How to Clean Gis
Although the shirts, shorts and most other clothing worn for martial arts can be washed normally, gis can be trickier. The material is fine to clean in a washing machine, but for many gis it is imperative to avoid using a dryer, particularly on a high setting. Although an initial drying can be used to make your gi snugger after your first class if needed, once it is at a fit you like, always hang dry your gis to avoid shrinking if you use a cotton gi. And no matter what superstition says, always wash your belt, too!
Unfortunately there's no gi-specific setting on washers. Just make sure you cold wash to reduce shrinking!
Even a student who knows how to how to clean boxing gloves, and takes immaculate care of their gi, can stumble when it comes to the details of personal care. If your gym has a shower you should try to use it after every class and leave in clean clothes. If there’s not a shower, you should still bring a change of clothes or a clean towel to lay on your seat. Getting into your car with sweat from a hard class on your body just leads to transferring that bacteria to your car, where it can get on you again the next time you go for a drive.
If you end a martial arts class without at least five other people's sweat on you, you did something wrong.*
*or it was a small class.
Training martial arts is fun, but a staph infection or similar skin disease caused by poor hygiene is anything but. Now that you know how to clean boxing gloves, MMA gloves and more, be sure to never neglect proper hygiene, even for a single class. While it can be hard to see the benefits of taking good care of your gear, since it just stays the same as when you got it, the harm of improper care is impossible to miss. Don’t waste money replacing gear that deteriorates too quickly, or miss time because you got an infection from dirty gear. Treat your gear after every class and keep having fun on the mats!