MMA headgear can be subjected to a lot of abuse. Not only is it struck, over time, by multiple punches and kicks, but it also has to contend with being bathed in the sweat and perspiration of the wearer.
Many fighters throw their headgear into their gym bag at the end of their training session and only bring it out at their next sparring bout.
However, if you neglect to wash your headgear, there is a risk that it can begin to become a breeding ground for bacteria. This not only makes it more likely to smell but it may make it more likely that any facial cuts and grazes become infected.
In short, ensuring you wash your MMA headgear is simply a matter of good hygiene. So how should you go about carrying this out?
After each use, you should wipe the grim and sweat off with a clean towel. You should also use this as an opportunity to spot to see if the headgear is damaged in any way.
At least once a month, you should wipe your headgear with a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water and allow the headgear to air dry naturally. This will kill most of the bacteria on the headgear and leave it smelling fresh. You’re not trying to saturate the headgear in any way; you are simply wiping the surface. Ensure you get into all the nooks and crannies.
To fully disinfect the headgear, it can be dipped into a mild bleach solution (10 parts water to one part bleach). You may want to do this if there has been any blood spilt on it.
Again you’re not trying to completely saturate it. I find that this is best done using a bucket where you can fully submerse the headgear, albeit for a brief period, before taking it out and allowing it to air dry. I like to ensure that any straps on the headgear are also dipped into the solution.
What not to use when cleaning your MMA headgear
You should never use alcohol or chemical cleaners to treat your headgear as this can damage the leather/faux-leather fabric.
These types of chemicals can actually eat into and weaken the fabric making it more prone to splitting.
Cleaning other types of headgear
These same techniques can be used to clean the headgear used in boxing, wrestling and rugby. Although the sports are different, the basic material and design of the headgear remains similar.
With adequate care, your headgear can last you many years. Regularly cleaning your kit is a discipline: it’s not something you necessarily want to do but it needs to be done. It’s this type of discipline in the small areas that can be applied to all aspects of your training, ultimately making you a better fighter.