So, get some quick tips from this article and keep your baseball gears shining!
If you were to ask me to name one thing that ticks me off more than anything, I would say dirty baseball equipment.
Baseball is a game that takes a lot of discipline to learn and master. And caring for your gears is just as important as hitting a home run or throwing a fantastic curveball.
As a coach, I always try to instill this principle in my players. Each of my practice sessions starts with a thorough inspection of their baseball gears, including gloves, cleats, and catcher’s gear. By learning to care for their equipment, my players learn to respect the game and everything that it embodies.
Everybody has different rituals when it comes to cleaning their baseball equipment. While some methods are quite effective, not every technique you find on the internet will yield proper results. Naturally, it can get a bit confusing. So, for people who require a helping hand, I have compiled this simple list.
From here on out – I’ll give you a thorough rundown of how I tend to approach baseball gear care and maintenance so that you can replicate it easily with equal success.
How to take Care of your Baseball Equipment
Playing baseball does not require too many pieces of equipment (unless you’re a catcher). Now, you may argue with me here. But in my books – baseball gloves, cleats, and a bat aren’t a ton of gear.
And if you are a catcher, then you would need a set of catcher’s gear which includes the chest protector, shin guard, catcher’s mitt, and face helmet (there can be a lot of other stuff like throat guard, cup, knee savers, etc. – we’ll get to that later as they aren’t considered primary gears).
To simplify things, I have divided the maintenance tips for different pieces of gears into separate sections below.
Baseball gloves might be the most important gear for players. Without proper maintenance, even the quality of a stellar baseball glove will decline. And even if you are a good fielder, your performance will take a severe hit if your gloves are not in their peak condition.
Here are the steps to taking care of your baseball gloves:
- After every game or practice session, wipe it thoroughly to get rid of any dirt or grime.
- Do not use any household cleaners to rub out any tough grime or stains. Instead, use a proper leather cleaner rated for use with baseball gloves.
- A good practice is to use conditioning oil once per month to moisten the glove. However, make sure you use oil sparingly as too much use might leave a buildup on the glove. Only use oil approved for use on a glove.
- If you want an alternative to conditioning oil, you can use petroleum jelly. However, you should wipe off the excess jelly after applying it as it will leave a lot of residues on the surface.
- Find a clean, dry, and cool place to store your glove. You always want to store it away from direct sunlight as it can result in mold formation.
- If your glove feels dirty or unhygienic, you can use some mild over-the-counter disinfectant or soap to clear it.
Baseball bats require minimal maintenance if they are made of carbon composite or metal. All you have to do is wipe them down with a cloth after each game, and you are good to go. Since these bats are designed to be corrosion-resistant, there is very little that you have to worry about.
However, if they are using the best wooden baseball bats, the story is a bit different. Wooden bats, unless appropriately maintained, can start performing poorly. And there is also the issue of warping to worry about. The steps to maintaining wooden bats are as follows:
- After every game, wipe the bats thoroughly. Avoid using any water, and only use rubbing alcohol if needed. Alcohol will help protect the wood against bacteria or pine tar.
- You always want to keep your wet dry. Water is the number one enemy of wooden bats, and if your bats get wet, you want to dry them out as quickly as possible. In addition, wooden baseball bats can warp or deform if they are exposed to water for a longer period.
- Similar to how one sharpens knives, you need to condition a wooden bat by grinding it against another one. Make sure you use hard, even strokes to smoothen out the bat so that you get better contact with the ball while hitting.
- You want to store your bats vertically all the time. Make sure the handle is upwards to protect it against warping or deformity.
The leader of the team naturally has to lead by example. Even though a catcher needs to handle a lot more gears compared to other roles on the team, I expect him to keep all of the catcher’s gear clean at every practice session or game. The catcher is the de facto leader of the team. So, if their gears are in tip-top shape, the rest of the crew will follow suit.
The catcher’s gear includes mitts, shin guards, chest protectors, and face masks. Here are the steps to keeping each of them neat and clean.
Keeping Your Catchers Mitts Clean:
- Mitts are the most important gear for a catcher, and as such, it demands special attention. You want to clean it after every use and oil it from time to time. Unless you condition your professional catchers mitt with oil, the leather can crack. When storing your mitt, you want to keep it away from direct sunlight.
Working on Your Shin Guards:
- Next, you want to focus on the shin guards. Check for any issues in the straps and strap hooks. If the hooks seem bent at any places, you need to replace them.
Maintaining Your Chest Protector:
- The chest protector is another vital part of the catcher’s gear and the part that is most susceptible to becoming smelly. That is why it is a good idea to air it out after each game. In addition, inspect the condition of the straps and hooks of the protector.
Don’t Get in the Diamond with a Dirty Helmet or Face Mask:
- Keep your face mask and helmet clean all the time. Check for any cracks or damages on the helmet after each game. If you notice any cracks, replace them immediately. The catcher’s helmet requires very little maintenance compared to other elements.
Tips for Keeping All the Gears Together
- Since catchers require multiple pieces of equipment, you want to carry it all in a large duffle bag. Many brands sell special bags designed specifically for catchers. Getting the baseball bags for catchers is a good investment to travel with your gears safely.
Keeping your top-of-the-line baseball cleats clean all the time can be a real chore since it will always pick up mud after a game. That is why cleaning it thoroughly each day is not really the best idea. Personally, I clean my cleats thoroughly once per week.
Here is my take on how to keep your cleats neat and mud-free.
- Once you return home and take off your shoes, you should bang the cleats together a couple of times. It will eliminate most of the loose mud and dirt from the bottom of the shoe. You should do this after each practice.
- For thorough cleaning, you want to let the cleats soak in lukewarm water for five to ten minutes. Afterward, use a hard-bristled brush to rub off the leftover dirt.
- After cleaning it with a brush, you can tackle the remaining dirt with a soft rag and dishwashing soap.
- Finally, use your garden hose to thoroughly rinse the cleats and dry them off using paper towels.
Caring for your baseball gear is an excellent habit to adopt as it will extend the lifespan of your equipment tenfold. I know it sounds cliché, but you will also learn to appreciate the game more as you spend more time with your gears.
If you treat your equipment with respect, it will return the favor. If you’re not doing it now, start today instead of waiting for some ideal time down the line.
I hope my simple methods could remove some of the dang-it moments and frustrations of cleaning your baseball equipment. From now on, whether it is baseball season or not, your baseball gears will always be in top working order. Cheers!