Just as a field general leads an army to battle, it is the duty of the catcher to lead his team to victory. A catcher has the critical job of setting up defense strategies that eventually lead to their opponent’s downfall.
In most – if not every team out there – the catcher is usually the team leader.
Typically, a player only has to carry their gloves and uniform in baseball. But the story is different for a catcher. A complete catcher’s gear consists of a chest protector, a helmet, a catcher’s mitt, shin guards, and a catcher’s bag.
Though I enjoyed my time as a catcher, I absolutely despised cleanup days. It took me hours to clean every piece of equipment that I had to carry. Well, all my effort (and regret after cleaning) vanished when I walked out of the diamond with the taste of victory.
So, I knew that it was essential to keep my gears in peak condition for my performance. Or else, one little smell may disrupt my focus (maybe it wouldn’t, but I was never the one to take this risk).
If you play as a catcher, you must also care for your equipment. Unless cleaned regularly, catcher’s gear can start to smell and deteriorate in performance.
Fret not, though, for I am here to make things easier for you. I have picked up many tricks to make the cleanup go faster and smoother throughout my career. And, I will share all my secrets on how to clean catcher’s gear.
How Do You Clean a Catcher’s Helmet?
The catcher’s helmet typically does not get too dirty. But it does start to smell if you do not clean out the inside of it every now and then.
I always recommend keeping some antibacterial wipes in your bag. You can easily wipe the inside of your helmet after each game to prevent any foul smell from coming out of it.
But that, unfortunately, is not a permanent solution. Ideally, you want to clean your helmet thoroughly at least once per week. Thankfully though, cleaning your top-shelf catcher’s helmet is not that difficult or frustrating.
- Start by removing the straps from the helmet. Next, take a moist cloth and wipe both the outside and inside of the helmet. You can also use soap sparingly if the helmet feels too dirty. Make sure to rub the metal cage thoroughly, as that is the part that gets dirty the most.
- Once you are done wiping it, spray a bit of disinfectant inside the helmet and let it dry. It should be ready to use after a couple of hours.
How Do You Wash a Chest Protector?
As you may already know, chest protectors have two sections – the outer plastic layer and the inner layer of fabric.
These two sections trap moisture and give you an extra bit of protection while playing. And cleaning the best baseball chest protector involves cleaning both layers individually.
- The first step is to take the two layers apart by removing all the straps and the shoulder pads. Then, you can toss the fabric layer of the chest protector inside the washing machine and make things a bit easier on your part. But make sure you shake it well to remove any loose dirt from it before doing so.
- Cleaning the plastic layer, however, requires a more hands-on approach. The first step is to knock off any loose dirt by shaking the protector. Then, similar to how you cleaned the helmet, you want to take a wet towel and wipe it down thoroughly. You can use soap, but in my experience, just plain water works fine.
- After that, you need to sanitize the layer using a disinfectant spray. Spray generous amounts of sanitizer both inside and outside the protector. Once you are done, leave the protector out to dry. I typically leave my gears out to dry in a well-ventilated room for around 24 hours.
How Do You Clean and Condition a Catcher’s Mitt?
The catcher’s mitt is the most critical gear for a catcher. And when it comes to cleaning your catcher’s mitt, you need to pay special attention to it.
No matter how strong it is, please resist the urge to throw the mitt in the washing machine and be done with it. Handwashing is the only way to go. You also need to condition it from time to time.
- The first order of business is to take a dry cloth and wipe down the mitt thoroughly. It is natural for the mitt to be dirtier than other gears, so take your time. To make things easier, you can dampen the cloth in a bit of soapy water. After you are happy with how the glove looks, wipe down the excess soap and let it air dry.
- Once dry, take a bit of leather conditioner oil and apply it to the glove. This oil will keep the leather smooth and prevent it from cracking. Even if you have the best catchers glove out there, the leather will start to crack if it is not conditioned properly. So, this step is absolutely vital.
- I always recommend going with a high-quality oil like the Lanolin Baseball Glove Oil. Even though it costs a bit more, I love the performance it delivers.
- If the insides of your gloves feel dirty or smelly, you can apply a bit of disinfectant spray. But do not let water inside the gloves as it will take ages to dry fully.
How Do You Clean Shin Guards?
Cleaning the shin guards isn’t that challenging compared to other pieces of catcher’s equipment.
- Just undo the straps and knock off any loose specks of dust or dirt that are on the shin guards. Then, spray the guard with disinfectant from all sides. Leave it out to dry for a couple of hours, and it is good to go.
- The main thing to remember here is to use a disinfectant that is approved for use on sporting goods. You can also use antibacterial wipes to clean your shin guards quickly if you are short on time.
How to Wash a Catcher’s Bag?
Since a catcher requires so many gears, it is often a good idea to invest in a catcher’s bag. But if you already have a bag, it requires some attention and care.
- Even though the bag remains in your locker, it can get smelly pretty soon as it has to carry all your dirty gears after the game. Cleaning the catcher’s bag can be a bit hectic, but it is important to do so from time to time.
- Start by emptying out the bag and removing any supportive cardboard parts that are inside it. If possible, turn your bag inside out as it would give you easier access to the dirty sections of the bag.
- Remember, handwashing the bag is the only proper way to clean it. You also want to avoid using any chemical solutions and stick to only water and soap.
- Personally, I go with scented soap as the smell afterward is heavenly. After cleaning the interior, rinse it off thoroughly with water.
- Then you can leave it in a well-ventilated environment to dry. Depending on the quality of the bag, it can take a couple of hours to dry fully.
- I prefer leaving it overnight.
How Do You Keep Catcher’s Gear from Smelling?
Catcher’s gears can get smelly quite fast. While playing baseball, it is natural for you to sweat. And once the sweat dries up in your gear, it will start to give off a foul smell. The good news here is that you do not have to thoroughly wash your gear after every game if you simply want to get rid of the smell.
You can keep a deodorizer spray in your catcher’s bag that you can just spray over your gears lightly to get rid of the dirty smell. Alternatively, you can use scented kitchen wipes to gently wipe the surface of your equipment. I prefer the latter method as it also disinfects the gears to some extent.
Can You Wash Catcher’s Gear in A Washing Machine?
The only piece of catcher’s equipment that is safe to wash in the washing machine is the fabric layer of your chest protector. You want to wash all the other gears by hand only. I have already given you a thorough rundown of the proper cleaning method for each piece of equipment.
When washing the fabric layer in a washing machine, consult the manufacturer’s instructions. It should give you information on which settings you should use while washing it. Keep in mind, though – some manufacturers recommend hand washing the fabric part too using soap and warm water.
So, before you put your protector in the washing machine head-first, read the instructions to make sure you’re in compliance.
How Do You Get Smell Out of Catcher’s Gear?
Even if after all your attempts to keep your catcher’s gear from smelling fails, there is no reason to give up. You can easily get rid of the smell by doing a thorough cleaning of the gears individually. And while drying, make sure to let it air dry only.
Sometimes forcing the gears to dry faster with heat or other methods can lead to molds and mildew that are extremely difficult to remove. They can also result in your gears becoming stinky. So, you really have to be on your toes – because once the smell gets too strong, you’ll have a tough time getting rid of it.
A Few Final Words of Wisdom
Having your gears in peak condition is essential to give your best performance as a catcher. The last thing you want is to fight against the bad smell from your helmet AND play against the opposing team. You can excel in one – but not BOTH.
If you are planning to go big in this game, you need to treat your equipment with respect. You should consider keeping your gears clean a solemn duty.
Though I did not exactly look forward to cleaning my gears every week, now that I look back, I think of it as something that helped me appreciate the game more. And your gears will become an extension of you and a testament to your playing style.
Yes, I understand that cleaning all your gears can seem annoying and often become downright frustrating. But it is your duty and a part of your role, all the same. For what it’s worth, I hope my tips could help make this chore a bit more bearable for you.
And I did give you the easiest ways to go about cleaning your catcher’s gear. So, if you give it some time, cleaning your gears will become second nature.
I hope you got everything you needed to know about how to clean a catcher’s gear. Now, get your equipment ready for the next big match because time’s ticking. Cheers!