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Mom Mondays: I’m in the zone, the 'ozone' that is


Most men don’t like housework. Actually, it’s not just men who don’t like housework, but somehow men get off easy in our society. When we married in 1991 my husband was perfectly content to watch me make dinner and do the dishes. This got old really fast and the following agreement was struck: I cook and he does the dishes.

This arrangement worked very well until our second year of marriage, when my husband Peter was doing the dishes and cut his hand on a broken glass in the dishwater. A week later he was in the hospital with a very serious staphylococcus infection. Needless to say, his pattern-aversion to doing dishes returned.

I wish I could say that’s my only staph story but it’s not. Fast forward 20 years and I am talking with a hockey dad on my daughter’s team at a hockey tournament. He’d scraped his elbow doing some random manly chore and then went off to his bi-weekly men’s league hockey game. A week later, he was carrying around an IV solution bag that was merrily pumping antibiotics via midline catheter.

As parents of hockey kids, we are well accustomed to sport sweat. We are also well accustomed to that infamous hockey odor. But that hockey stink we all know and hate so well isn’t just a sign of your child’s tenacity and determination (though kudos to them on working that hard). That pungent aroma is telling you that your kid’s hockey equipment is a breeding ground for some pretty toxic bacteria, mold and fungus.

Now having seen a staph infection up close and personal twice in my life, you do not – DO NOT – want to see this on your kids. Since the list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is growing, prevention is worth a millilitre of cure.

That equipment needs to be aired out (just not in my living room, please). Lay it out or hang it on a hockey tree. At the very least, spray it with antibacterial spray. And while your kids are wearing their equipment, make sure there’s a layer of sport wear between their skin and their equipment. Oh sure, they complain about being too hot but show them a couple of Internet shots of a staph infection and they’ll change their minds pretty quickly.

If you compromise on the prevention, you’ve now got to get that stinky hockey equipment cleaned! You can actually put equipment in the laundry machine, or so I’ve been told. I’ve just been too chicken to try it (not even once in all my years as a hockey mom) for fear that I would ruin it right before the big game.  I use two big storage buckets; one filled with an anti-bacterial cleaning solution (I have used bleach, yes, but I hear it may break down the equipment, so vinegar or Lysol work too) and the other filled with clean water to rinse. Then I leave them in the sun to dry (yeah, I know, this doesn’t work too well in Ottawa in February).

There are also dozens of equipment cleaning services and so many of the larger ones offer mobile cleaning services that we’ve used. They will either park their mobile hockey equipment cleaning truck at a local arena, or come pick it up. Many use ozone (not that layer of our atmosphere that is rapidly depleting) but is in fact highly concentrated in O3 cleaning systems as ozone has been proven to be very effective at killing bacteria, odour and infection. It’s also infinitely easier than sending the hockey gear up into the upper atmosphere!

I have no idea really how often you should clean hockey equipment (I’m sure it varies by kid, and how often they play) but safe to say if you’re spending hundreds of dollars on that special hockey stick that your player totally can’t live without, you can – and should – probably fork out the $50 for some hockey equipment cleaning several times a season.

If this effort is more than the typical hockey mom has time for, you’re probably right. So here’s an idea: I think this is a household hockey chore the hockey dad should take on – just tell him it’s better than spending the afternoon at emerg!

Or better yet – make it a father-son/daughter project.

Three cheers for hockey dads - and the hockey equipment they get clean!

Tags: minor hockey

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