A Threat To Your Health: Mold & Mildew Can Masquerade as Smell in Sports Gear

Woman wearing gym clothes and holding gym bag

Bad Odor Often Indicates the Presence of Mold & Mildew

Williams Direct Dryers™ are built to help you keep dry and stay healthy. We understand that health is a big concern amongst players because good health keeps you in the game and off the bench. Our SportsDryer™ line provides simultaneous drying for gloves, all types of footwear and even, hockey skates. It's important to keep dry, especially those poorly ventilated spaces and hard-to-reach areas such as the inside of a glove, and the toe box area of your footwear or skates. We can dry just about anything in any sport, including helmets. Our DirectDrying™ technology enables you to dry consistently and confidently. It’ll help prevent the beginning stages of mold and mildew growth. In fact, you’ll gain benefits with the use of our drying systems such as; odor-free gear, a significant reduction of disease causing bacteria in your equipment, and maintain excellent heath! For further information on an independent drying case study by Akron Children’s Hospital, please see here:http://www.bootdryer.com/pages/case-study

Mostly everyone in North America has encountered that unforgettable stench which attaches itself to sports equipment after a game or practice. It lingers in the locker room, attaches itself to your gear bag and sometimes leaves its mark in your car trunk. It is a putrid smell that ties its origin with sweat and mildew. To many, ‘Smelly Gear,’ is the common term. The smell is distinguishable, as most coaches, parents, teammates, and family members will attest to. Smelly gear is easily detectable from equipment bags, helmets, and skates to protective gear. The smell itself is usually an indication that mold and/or mildew has made a comfortable home and started to grow. There are ways to combat mold through chemical means. Though, one must remember that chemicals may cause allergic reactions and possible respiratory problems. Ironically enough, this could be the same kind of illnesses imposed by mold and mildew. Another thing to consider is that, mold can spread quite easily in the right environments. It can spread from one piece of gear to another, and then potentially transfer into your home. The key to approaching mold and mildew is prevention and understanding its growth process.

What exactly is mold & mildew? How does it start?

Mold and mildew are simply, fungi. Typically mold is black or green and mildew is gray or white. Mildew is a type of mold, which sometimes has a white powdery look. Both live in warm, damp, and humid conditions. Most molds attain their nourishment from the environment, by feeding on living or dead organic matter. Mold can spread effortlessly, and reproduces itself by producing spores which are invisible to the naked eye. These spores naturally suspend themselves in the air. As long as the surface is wet, mold spores can attach themselves to almost anything. Since they feed on organic matter they can feed off of dead skin cells. Did you know: Within a 24-hour period, one sheds 500 million skin cells? [Source: Science Daily]

In addition, they thrive in poorly ventilated areas. With just the right conditions, mold spores can latch onto a new host and the cycle begins again. New mold growth can begin within 24-48hours [Source: Center For Disease Control]. Mold spores prosper and reproduce in wet environments; therefore they can be found in hockey skates, helmets, and in all types of gear including the common gym bag, all within the 24-48 hours period. Think back to a moment when you found unusual black spots in your hockey helmet or gloves. Yes, that is mold growth.

We’ve compiled a brief list to help you understand the affects of mold in your gear:

FACT: Once mold begins its growth stage it will begin as tiny black specks. Eventually the specks grow in size as long moist conditions are maintained. These black spots are close to impossible to remove. They will stain fabric and materials. Some websites have stated that bleach can help remove mold itself. Though, one must keep in mind with regards to bleach, it can discolor and cause irreparable damage to your gear. Bleach can cause more damage to your expensive equipment than if it was left untouched. It is safer to keep your gear away from bleach.

FACT: Mold can innocently start in your gym bag then spread out to places in the home such as, closets, crawl spaces, basements, onto walls or other damp areas all within a 24-48 period. Keep vigilant of your sports gear. Inspect your gear on a constant basis. If you should notice that mold growth is appearing, keep it contained (in an isolated area) to prevent it from spreading any further. Try to scrub the area with a clean sponge and soapy water to help remove mold (only in small amounts). Dry immediately to inhibit any further mold growth.

FACT: Mold can begin easily in poorly ventilated areas. After practice or a game, we place all our sports gear in our equipment bag and leave it until the next time. It is important to create new healthy habits. Once you arrive home from practice or a game, get your gear out of the bag. Let your gear air out.

FACT: Prolonged exposure to mold can be harmful to an individual. Mold can help identify a mold allergy by causing health problems. Mold can trigger asthma attacks, cause itchy eyes, restrict breathing and cause other respiratory problems. Sometimes mold allergies are often misdiagnosed as seasonal allergies. Be aware that if your eyes itch and wheezing starts, it may be caused by smelly and therefor moldy gear.


With mold & mildew as a concern, after every game and practice, what does one do?

Keep your gear and sporting equipment dry! According to Health Canada, “Controlling moisture and keeping […] dry is the key to preventing and stopping mold growth” - Health Canada

Athletes are exposed to potential health risks either on the field, court or rink. Damp gear smell or hockey smell is an easy subject to ignore because it’s prevalent in the locker room. Most people just accept it as part of the game and let it be. It doesn’t have to be that way. Just because your teammates’ gear smells awful, it doesn’t mean your gear needs to smell too. Now that you’re equipped with better understanding, athletes’ stench can be put under-control. By managing the moisture levels in your gear you can manipulate the depth and degree of smells that linger in your gym or hockey bag. Keeping dry is one of the best healthy sports habits that will take you to the top of your game. You truly deserve to be, odor free!

Works Cited:

Cdc.gov. "CDC - Mold - General Information - Basic Facts." February 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm#mold>

Wikipedia. "Mold." Wikipedia.org, February 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold>.

American Chemical Society. "The skinny on how shed skin reduces indoor air pollution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509114034.htm>.

US Environmental Protection Agency. "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home." Epa.gov, February 2015. <http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html#Why>.

Center For Disease Control. “Dampness and Mold in Buildings.“ CDC.gov, February 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/mold.html>.

Health Canada. "Mould and Your Health". February 2015. <http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/promotion/public-publique/home-maison/mould-moisissure-eng.php>.

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