Sterilization. Everything a Mom Needs to Know.

Calm down.  I’m not talking about THAT kind of sterilization!  No, no, I’m talking about sterilizing those nasty bacteria all wrestlers come in contact with at a meet.  Some moms (perhaps more delicate than I) call it disinfecting.  But I think we all know the goal is to annihilate those little buggers before they get to our kids.  sterilization is a much more powerful word and, I believe, more appropriate for the task at hand.

For those who do not know, wrestling is a contact sport.  This means the competitors actually touch or make contact — skin-to-skin.  Not like baseball where you have a bat and glove.  Not like football where you have a head-to-toe uniform with padding.  Golf, tennis, and swimming (thankfully our uniforms are a tad larger than those of the swimmer!!).. no contact, no contact, and no contact.

Worse, wrestling is sweaty, bloody, and well, spitty.  Yuck, ewww, ewww.  I mean, ewww.  It is not a sport for the faint of heart.  It can be a very messy sport.


Coach / Medic and the bloody Nose

In particular, the mats pose a risk for skin infections.  Thankfully, each team cleans and sterilize (read disinfect) the mats after every use.

Though cleaned thoroughly after every meet a diverse community can still reside.  We’re all about diversity, right?  No, not this community!  This community of contagious skin infections include ring worm, herpes simplex, impetigo, and staph/MRSA.  Any one of these is capable of not only spreading from one player to another but put a rapid stop to your child’s ability to wrestle.  Yup, skin infection equals no wrestling.  Period.

They live not just on the mats (actually less likely because the mats are sterilized regularly) but in the wrestler’s gear.  Yes, that means head-gear, pads, shoes, socks, singlets, shorts, and t-shirts.

Now some of these infections are just an annoyance such as ringworm and impetigo.  Unfortunately, a few (staph, MRSA, and herpes) present a real health problem.  These infections and necessary sterilization should be taken seriously.


To the nitty-gritty — Sterilization and killing those offending bacteria.  Remember — if you have any concerns or believe your child has contracted a skin infection SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION.  I am in no way a medical professional and am not giving medical advice.  I am a mom sharing what I do to help my son stay infection free.  That being said, always err on the side of caution and seek a medical professional for medical advice and treatment.

Number One

SHOWER.  SHOWER WITH ANTI-BACTERIAL SOAP. SHOWER AFTER EVERY PRACTICE AND MEET.  No excuses!  This is the probably the most important thing a wrestler can do to protect themselves and others from contracting a skin infection.
Hey, we benefit from less body odor!  Yeah for us!!

Number Two

WASH ALL GEAR.  Always, always, always wash all gear after each practice AND meet.  No excuses again!  How to wash it?  Not with bleach, friends.  Bleach may be the go-to bacteria killer of all time but it will permanently damage wrestling gear.
Head gear and knee pads can go into the dishwasher.  Sounds weird but the heat of the dishwasher water with the antibacterial detergent helps kill the invaders.  The added benefit is the gear doesn’t get tossed around and misshapen.  DO NOT PUT IN DRYER.  The dryer can melt or deform the gear.  Air dry is the best policy.

Singlets, shorts, shirts, underwear, socks, sweats, etc. can be washed (sort your colors!) in the washing machine.  Follow the directions for the singlet.  Hot water is a no-no as is the dryer.  Heat can cause the singlet to shrink or lose its shape and fade.

Do not use bleach!  Regular detergent should work just fine.  Some people add white vinegar in the wash for colors, liquid Lysol, or hydrogen peroxide (for whites).  Personally I don’t use additives (white vinegar — the smell during washing is awful!).  I would recommend testing these additives on something other than the wrestling gear first.


The has a great skin guide  with detail information about cleaning, disinfecting, etc.

Shoes — Eeee gads those things STINK!  And stink usually means bacterial growth.  Resist the urge to throw them in the washing machine or dishwasher.  If you do be prepared to visit the sporting goods store for a new pair of shoes.  Seriously.

Simply clean using a rag and warm water to gently wipe down the outside of the shoe, in particular, the sole.  I like to use an antibacterial soap in the water for the sole.  I also like to spray the shoes down with Lysol  It may not do anything but make me feel better!  Do not immerse the shoe in water and hope it will be “ok”.  It won’t.  Simply wipe down the outside.

I found multiple tips at to rid those shoes of offending odors.  I would skip to step 3 and try from there.  I like the baking soda idea.  It’s easy and cheap.

I don’t think I will try the freezer tip — I am not about to put those stinkers with my food.  I will try the kitty litter though.  It makes a lot of sense to me — if kitty litter can stop the kitty stink it should work on my son’s shoes.  Just make sure you don’t dump the litter directly into the shoe!

Number Three

— It is critical skin lesions and/or cuts are treated immediately.  Scraps, cuts, rub burns, etc. should be treated with a antifungal (some recommend Tineacide).  An opening in the skin, however small, allows the bacteria entry.  Drive into your child he/she must bring any skin problem or concern to you immediately.  Immediate treatment may help prevent a more serious problem in the future.

Seriously grossed out?  I know… the secret language, uniforms (OMG), and now skin infections.  No wonder our kids love this sport!!!

Cheers — Tammi