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How to Wash Knee Pads Properly? Hand-wash or Machine-wash?

Fact checked by Andrew Carnegie

how to wash knee pads

Whether you wear your knee pads over or under the pants, they are frequently exposed to dirt, oils, perspiration, or all of the above. Yet, you can’t come to work or a tournament with filthy knee protectors—that’s just unprofessional!

Besides, cleaning your pads regularly will not only ensure that you look smart but will also prevent them from reeking of sweat from yesterday’s activities. If you don’t know how to wash knee pads, we’re here to help!

Washing Knee Pads

1. Machine-wash


We know that many of you are wondering, “Can I put my knee pads in the washer?”

Here’s our answer: Using the washer is only recommended for soft-capped knee protectors, which are pads that are made of soft foam materials. Examples include:

  • Adam USA Trace Knee Pads
  • Mizuno Knee Pads
  • Cliff Keen the Impact Wrestling Knee Pads

If you can’t find specific Adam USA and Mizuno knee pads washing instructions, look for the keyword “machine-washable” on their product descriptions or packaging.

Step 1: Prepare your laundry


Put the pads into a mesh laundry bag or old pillowcase, then load them in washing machine along with soiled workwear or sports attire.

Tip: If you are using a pillowcase, be sure to tie a knot to seal the opening and prevent the pads from slipping out.

Do not skip this step. Without a mesh bag or pillowcase, your knee protectors can get entangled with other pieces of clothing and potentially damage them.

Also, spinning these knee protectors on their own in the washer is a bit wasteful with your electricity, which is why loading the washer with other garments is necessary.

Step 2: Let the washer do its job then hang your pads to air-dry


Now that your clothes and knee pads (in the mesh bag, of course) are placed in the washer’s drum, pour bleach-free mild detergent into the dispenser.

Optional: Add half a cup of vinegar or one cup of baking soda to get rid of the odor.

Choose cold water, the gentlest setting on the machine, and then hit start!

After that, put your wet laundry in the dryer—except for your knee pads. The last thing you want is for these protectors to shrink.

Though air-drying can take half a day to complete, it remains to be the best drying technique for your pads.

You can also hang your pads outdoors. Exposing them to the sun’s heat can expedite the process.

But for those who want to know how to dry knee pads fast, we recommend using the “no heat” setting in the dryer.

2. Hand-wash

Hand washing is the best way to wash knee pads with hard plastic shell caps.

Though this design is common for personal protective work equipment, knee pads made for sports like hockey, biking, and skateboarding also feature hard caps. Here are some examples:

  • Westward Knee Pads
  • Masterforce Knee Pads
  • VPD System Lite Knee from Poc Knee Pads

Note that the cleaning strategy below is not just for hard-capped knee protectors. You can also use it for your soft-capped pads.

Step 1: Gather your cleaning supplies


To wash skate pads, work knee protectors, or any knee pads with hard plastic, start by filling a bucket with warm water.

Then, add one-fourth cup of laundry soap and one cap of white vinegar—you can use the vinegar bottle’s cap to measure it.

If your knee pads are dusty or muddy, try getting some of the dirt out with a brush before submerging them in water. Otherwise, you can toss them straight into the bucket.

Step 2: Soak your knee pads


Use your hands to stir the water so that the pads spin around the bucket just like a washer agitating the garments to shake the dirt out.

At this stage, you can scrub and wring the soft-capped pads continuously until you see the dirt coming off.

For plastic-capped pads, you can continue rotating them using your hands. Add more vinegar if the stench has not dissipated.

If the water is too muddied to wash effectively, throw the dirty water away and refill the bucket with clean liquid. Add vinegar and soap as you did in Step 1, then repeat Step 2.

Step 3: Rinse the pads and leave them to dry

Discard the dirty water from the bucket. If you are using a sink, pour the water down the drain.

For the next couple of minutes, switch on the faucet and run hot water continuously over your pads to remove the remaining dirt and soap residue.

At this point, you should see clear water coming out of the knee pads. If not, repeat steps 1 and 2 and submerge the pads for half an hour.

Once you are satisfied with the results, you can leave the knee pads to dry outside.

3. Things to Consider When Washing Knee Pads


  • If your pads are extremely dirty, consider soaking them in baking soda and vinegar before washing.
  • There are commercial stain removers for sportswear and athletic equipment, so check them out if your pads do not look pristine after regular cleaning.

Tips for Caring for Your Knee Pads

Tip #1


As a general rule, cleaning knee pads should be done once or twice a month.

Still, the frequency varies depending on how often you use them for work or sports. If you expose your pads to dirty surfaces daily, wash them once every two or three days.

Tip #2

Considering that drying may take up to 12 hours, so be sure to have more than one pair of clean knee pads that you can use alternatingly.

Tip #3


Make it a point to take the pads out of your bag when you get home after a game or work.

Then, turn them inside out to ensure that the sweat gets to dry well. You can take advantage of UV rays to get rid of the bacteria.

Tip #4

If you are going to travel for a job or a competition, bring some laundry detergent with you. This way, you can wash your knee pads in the bathtub or the sink.

Lay your soiled pads on the sink or tub and run some water over them. Try pressing the pads repeatedly to squeeze the dirt out.

You should see the water turning gray or brown as it travels through the pads and down the drain.

Next, wash your pads with detergent and rinse them with water. Leave your pads to dry in an open space.

Frequently Asked Questions


Are you supposed to wash knee pads?

Yes! Because your knee pads come into contact with all sorts of dirt and your body’s oils and sweat, you need to clean them.

Why do knee pads smell?

Leaving your sweat-drenched knee pads in your bags is pretty much an open invitation for odor-causing bacteria to grow.

By the way, it’s not just knee pads that can get stinky–these microbes breed in moist and dark environments like your shoes or gloves.

How do I keep my knee pads from smelling?

As mentioned in the tutorial and care tips above, the trick is to never leave sweat pads in your bag. Instead, air-dry them after each use and wash them regularly as often as needed.

Can I use bleach when cleaning white knee pads?

No, we don’t recommend powerful cleaners for white knee pads as they can potentially damage the structural integrity of the materials.

Can I use the methods above to wash knee braces?

It depends. If the knee braces are made of the same material as your knee pads, you can use the hand-washing method above.

However, some knee braces may have leather components that are best washed using leather cleaning products.


For athletes and workers, knowing how to wash knee pads is just as important as knowing how to play their sport or perform the tasks they are hired for. After all, wearing clean garments and protective gear not only helps you project a good image but also avoids skin diseases.

Letting the air and sun dry your knee pads after each shift is a simple process that can prevent odors. Likewise, the washing process takes no more than three steps to accomplish. There is no excuse for anyone to go to team practice or work with dirty pads!

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