Helmets should be regularly wiped down after games and practices through the season, and regularly reconditioned after the season.
After the game, make sure to let the inside of your helmet air-dry before placing it in a dark or non-ventilated area. This will prevent bacteria and mold from growing.
For the outside shell, don’t use harsh abrasives as this may scratch or damage the graphics and color. Instead, use a disinfectant wipe or dish soap and water to get the shell nice and clean after every game.
For the inside, some helmets have overliners that can be removed and hand-washed. Always air-dry the overliners – never place them in a laundry dryer.
For helmets that don’t have removable overliners, spray a skin-safe anti-odor disinfectant after cleaning with a dish-soap mixture inside the helmet. Wipe with a soft, fabric cloth, not an abrasive brush or sponge. Get in between all of the pads as well. Rinse with a lightly damp cloth. Air dry.
Make sure after you wash and disinfect your helmet that it is completely dry before placing it in any locker or equipment bag.
If you place your helmet inside a bag, spray the inside of the bag with disinfectant first and let it dry. This will help prevent any transference of dangerous bacteria from previous equipment in the bag.
Avoid all disinfectants and cleaners that are not safe for skin contact. This includes bleach, ammonia, turpentine, and almost all types of kitchen and bathroom cleaners. Plain water is preferable to any skin-irritating chemicals.
Don’t sit or lean on your helmet, or place stress on it other than during play.
Always check for cracks, scratches, and other hardware damage after a game.
Don’t forget to also wipe down the facemask and check to make sure all of the dirt is removed.
Reconditioning, Recertification, Replacement
Reconditioners have a multi-step process they use to make sure helmets are good as new. Reconditioning a helmet usually takes about a month to complete, which is why it should be timed between seasons.
The helmet is taken apart.
The paint and scratches are removed. The outer shell is cleaned then inspected for cracks and defects.
If sufficient damage, such as hairline fractures, have occurred to the shell or other integral parts, a replacement helmet is necessary.
Structural damage such as cracks, tears, and broken pieces to any safety equipment render the equipment un-useable until it can be repaired or replaced.
The helmet is repainted, and buffed to a shine.
Facemasks are inspected, cleaned, and replaced as needed.
All hardware is inspected, cleaned, and replaced as needed.
Interior pads are removed, washed, and sanitized.
Worn decals are removed.
Recertification: Safety tests are performed on the helmet to ensure that it holds up under game conditions. After the tests are passed, the helmet is recertified according to NOCSE (National Operating Committee for Sports Equipment) standards.
Recertification and manufacturer labels are reapplied, and the helmet is sent back.
Reconditioning and recertification usually costs between $30-40 depending on whether or not there are many extra replacements included. Regular cleaning and maintenance will enhance and extend the life of your helmets and other safety equipment.