How To Clean A Football Helmet

Just like your football jersey and the socks you wear, dirt, sweat, and bacteria can accumulate in your football helmet.

It is important to clean both the exterior and the interior of your football helmet to keep it looking new and glossy on the outside and smelling fresh and clean on the inside.

Football is an outdoor contact sport that involves a wide variety of movements, like running down the field to score a touchdown and tackling an opposing player to the ground to prevent them from receiving a pass.

It’s no surprise that football players sweat so much, whether they’re performing a drill or playing an actual game. So, when was the last time you cleaned your football helmet?

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black nfl helmet covered in dirt

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Why Is Cleaning Your Football Helmet Important?

It may not seem an exciting activity, but giving your football helmet a good clean is an integral part of helmet care. Here are the top reasons you should clean your football helmet as often as possible.

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Better personal health and hygiene

Sweat mixed with debris, hair products, and dead skin cells creates the ideal breeding ground for germs and bacteria. If you don’t wash them off your football helmet right away, your helmet could smell nasty the next time you put it on. Bacterial growth could also irritate your skin and make you feel itchy.

By cleaning your football helmet regularly, you can ensure that it feels and smells great every time you put it on your head.

Less distraction

Wearing an unclean, stinky helmet not only is uncomfortable but can also affect your focus and performance on the field. For example, a dirty helmet visor can make it difficult to see clearly at all angles, which can put you at a disadvantage whether you’re trying to dodge players or catch the ball.

Part of routine maintenance checks

Whenever you clean your helmet, you can also check for dents, cracks, loose screws, or any damage which may not be visible under normal conditions. This way, you can immediately identify if any part needs repair or replacement.

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How to Clean a Football Helmet

You don’t have to learn rocket science to know the best way to clean a football helmet. However, keep in mind that you must do it properly to prevent the risk of damaging your helmet.

So, how do you clean a football helmet the right way? Besides following the care instructions from the helmet manufacturer, you can use this guide on cleaning your football helmet. In this article, we’ll share the top tips on how to clean a football helmet

What to Use to Clean Football Helmets

If you’re wondering what to use to clean football helmets, you don’t really need to look farther than your kitchen or bathroom. Here are the basic tools you would need for washing or wiping your football helmet clean.

  • Soft cloths like those made from cotton or microfiber
  • Mild dishwashing soap or baby shampoo
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Clean warm water

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pair of hands in bowl of soapy water

How to Clean a Football Helmet Shell

The outer shell of your football helmet is exposed to the elements most of the time. It can easily collect dust, mud, grass, and other debris. Knowing how to clean the outside of a football helmet shell properly not just makes it glossy and attractive, but also helps maintain its durability.

For cleaning the helmet shell, get a container, fill it with warm water, and then add a couple of drops of liquid soap to make a soapy solution. Before cleaning the exterior of your football helmet, remove the inner components, including the ear pads, removable paddings, and chin straps. Doing this makes the cleaning process faster and more efficient.

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Once you have taken off all the removable parts, you can start cleaning the football helmet shell. Using a microfiber or cotton cloth dipped in the soapy solution, wipe off the dirt from the surface of the helmet. If you’re dealing with stubborn, caked-on mud and grass stains, you can place the damp microfiber cloth on the helmet and leave it for a few minutes to soften the dirt and make it easier to remove.

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You can apply slight pressure when removing dirt from the surface but scrub gently to avoid leaving scratches or damaging the stickers or decals. After you have scrubbed all the dirt from the outer shell, you can rinse off the remaining debris and soapy solution with warm water. Then, wipe the helmet shell with a dry, clean cloth or set it aside to air-dry. Once the football helmet is completely dry, you can apply spray wax to get the helmet shell shiny.

Pro Tip: To remove old helmet decals from the outer shell of your football helmet, you can use peanut butter (creamy), baby oil, or olive oil to soften the adhesive before washing it with soap and water.

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How to Clean a Football Helmet Inside

Football helmets may have removable or non-removable pads inside. The process of how to clean the inside of a football helmet depends on its padding system.

Cleaning a football helmet with removable pads

Follow these steps on how to clean the removable pads of your football helmet.

  • Take out the pads then dip them in the soapy solution.
  • Use a soft cloth to scrub away stains and grime, then rinse with water.
  • Set them aside to air dry

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While waiting for the pads to dry, you can now clean the interior of the football helmet. Get a microfiber towel then soak it in soapy water, then use it to wipe the inner surface of the helmet. Once you have removed all the dirt, rinse the interior with a cloth dipped in clean water. Wait for the interior to dry or wipe it with a clean, dry cloth.

Pro Tip: Never use rough or abrasive material like a sponge or steel brush in scrubbing the inside of the football helmet because it could scratch the helmet’s protective coating.

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footballer's hand holding helmet showing interior padding of helmet

Cleaning a football helmet with non-removable pads

If your football helmet has non-removable pads, you can clean the inside of the helmet by using a microfiber or cotton towel dipped in a mixture of mild soap and water. Scrub gently to remove dirt and stains without damaging the pads and the liner.

After cleaning the padding, rinse off excess soap by wiping the pads with another cloth soaked in clean water. Let the pads and the interior dry by setting your helmet in an upright position on a clean, dry surface.

Pro Tip: Don’t use heating tools like a blow dryer or leave the helmet under bright sunlight to speed up the drying time, as these methods could warp the foam structure.

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How to Clean a Football Helmet Chin Strap

Now that we’ve covered how to clean the exterior and the interior of a football helmet, let’s move on to how to clean a football helmet chin strap.

First, you need to slide the buckle off the chin strap. If your football helmet has a chin shield, you must also remove it from the strap. To clean the chin strap, dip a soft cloth in soapy water then use it to wipe off dust and other particles from the chin strap. You can also soak the chin strap in the soapy solution and handwash it. After washing, rinse the chin strap using clean water and let it dry.

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As for the buckle and chin shield, use another batch of mild soap and water mixture to clean them, rinse them with clean water, then set them aside to dry.

Pro Tip: You can use a cotton swab to clean hard-to-reach areas of the buckle and chin shield.

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How to Clean a Football Helmet Visor

Cleaning the visor of a football helmet is a bit tricky. Unlike the helmet’s outer shell, you can’t use cloth (no matter how soft the material is) for cleaning or wiping the helmet visor. If you’re not sure how to clean a football visor properly, take note of these tips:

  • Wiping down dirt, dust, or dead insects from the visor, whether with a damp or a dry cloth, could scratch the surface of the visor.
  • Run plain water on the surface of the visor to clean it.
  • A window cleaner or visor cleaner spray is a good alternative to plain water.
  • Avoid visor sprays with oil, unless it’s Eucalyptus oil, which evaporates quickly and leaves a pleasant smell. Oily visor sprays typically leave a smeary film on the surface and could also produce glare when sunlight hits the visor.

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How to Clean a Smelly Football Helmet

woman holding her nose to avoid a bad smell

Does your football helmet still smell funky after cleaning it? Remember, washing or cleaning your helmet only removes dirt from the helmet. If you want to know how to get the smell out of a football helmet, consider these:

  • Spray disinfectant on the interior after washing your football helmet.
  • Pat or wipe any disinfectant residue with a clean cloth or paper towel
  • Let your helmet and all of its components dry completely before wearing or storing it.


So, there you have it. From this day forward, you will have the best-looking and best smelling helmet on the field. Your teammates will be wondering how you can afford to wear a brand new helmet every week.

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Rosalyn Gonzaga-Tacang

A graduate in Psychology from the University of Santo Tomas, Rosalyn chose a career as an HR practitioner focusing on performance management, total rewards management, research, and policy development. As a gifted writer, Rosalyn turned her hand to part-time freelance writing and has contributed articles to several websites over recent years including e-commerce product descriptions and general content on such diverse topics as business, marketing, psychology, travel, lifestyle, and home improvements. Outside of her work focus, she loves to spend quality time with her husband and children.

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