When I talk to the beginners before their very first fencing lesson, I always ask them to bring an extra T-shirt to training. I can’t promise them that they will 100% fall in love with fencing with their first glimpse, but I can promise them that they will sweat! A lot! Of course, every fencer or parent is aware that fencing equipment after a while – if not washed – GOSH SMELLS! That stinky “bouquet of odors” can be very distracting for fencers. I definitely know that my own kids love the feeling of freshly cleaned jackets and masks. However, many parents are wondering HOW TO CLEAN A FENCING MASK. So here are some tips from a “professional” fencing mom.
1. Dishwasher option
Many fencers admit to being too lazy to wash their masks the old fashioned way in a bucket. One of the easiest ways to avoid that is simply to put the mask into the dishwasher and sip on a cup of coffee or two while the machine is doing the work for you.
Nothing for you to do.
May destroy the color, electrical bib, Velcro, wires, and the mesh may rust. Of course, you may get lucky and none of the big problems above will happen to you. As a test, I put two of our very old masks through the dishwasher. One came out like new and the second lost a bit of the blackish color on the wires. So it’s up to you.
If you are brave enough to risk your mask, here are three things to remember:
- Set dishwasher on low
- Turn off the drying cycle (or if you have an advanced machine, use a low temperature)
- Don’t use dishwashing detergent – baking soda is OK
2. Hand washing option
OK, don’t be too upset when you have to find time to drown a mask in a big bucket and clean it with your own hands. This is actually the method I use to clean the five masks of my four children and my husband! And yes, sometimes I feel like I’m a laundress from black-and-white movies, but take it as a relaxation therapy 🙂
Mask will serve longer
5 steps hand wash cleaning for regular masks (without un-attachable bibs and pads):
1. Dunk the mask in a big bucket with WARM (not hot!) water with stain remover laundry detergent (Tide, Purex, you name it). Adding baking soda will definitely bring it to brighter white.
2. Let it soak for about 20-30 minutes. For foil masks try to keep the bib out of the bucket.
3. Scrub completely inside and out with a soft brush and avoid vigorous scrubbing of the electrical bib for foil masks.
4. Rinse well, squeezing material and rinsing several times until the water comes out clean.
5. Dry with a big old towel or cloth and leave it for a while in the sink to let the rest of the water drain out with the bib side up.
How to dry mask
Sun drying (avoid intense and prolonged sun light)
Hair dryer (still think of it as your relaxation therapy time, because it takes patience)
Air dry (just leave it alone, bib side up, avoiding rusting and yellowish stains on fabrics)
For a quick fix:
Wipe down the inside with a baby wipe or hands disinfecting wipe without bleach.
If you have a conductive mask, be sure to avoid enthusiastic scrubbing. Also, it will take a while to dry, so unless you’re chill with fencing in a wet mask, make sure to give it time!
General advice for all sweaty equipment
Don’t leave wet exercise equipment in the bag, including your mask. Hang everything out at least to dry, if not to be washed. If it doesn’t dry properly, the bouquet of odors will only get worse!
Happy and clean fencing to all!