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How to keep a football kit in good condition?

Most people reading this probably own a football kit. The ubiquity of kits spans many demographics, with people of all ages wearing them casually or in sporting activities, which is a bit surprising given their high price (often around £60). With such a high cost, you’d expect most people to take care of their kits but very few ever learn how to properly do so. It isn’t uncommon to see missing characters or faded colours on a kit worn in casual play. This guide will teach you how to prevent these issues and keep your kits in the best condition possible, whether you wear it to play football in or if you’re just a collector.

How do you wash a football kit?

Firstly, wash your kit as soon as possible after a game/activity. The longer you leave your kit, the worse the smells and stains will get and the more you risk causing permanent damage to it in a wash cycle. As you will see when you follow our washing guide, kits are fairly delicate and should be cleaned in the most gentle way possible so anything you can do to lower the intensity of the wash will improve the longevity of the kit in the long term.

In most cases, football kits are worn during intense exercise. If you are playing a sport or even just running in your kit, you’re going to need to wash it a lot. This is one of the major factors in the deterioration of a kit. Generally, the biggest problems caused by washing are fading colours and peeling logos and badges, usually caused by high temperatures and rough wash cycles. Follow our guide below to prevent this from happening to your kit.

  1. The first thing you need to do is turn the shirt inside out. This will provide more protection to the delicate and visible areas of the shirt (mainly sewn on badges and shirt numbers and sponsors).
  2. Do not use fabric softener and try to use the most gentle detergent you can.
  3. Keep the temperature setting low. Generally, shirts should be washed at 30 degrees Celsius or below.
  4. Use the delicate setting if your machine has one.
  5. Allow the shirt to dry naturally on a washing line (or something similar). Do not tumble-dry the shirt.
  6. You should wash the shirt on its own if possible. If you wash it with other items, you should make sure that they are all the same or a similar colour.

How to hand wash a football kit?

For older kits in particular, machine washing of any kind could be too risky. If the shirt you want to maintain is signed, vintage, already damaged or otherwise more delicate than a usual kit, hand washing may be the only way to safely clean it. This process is very simple but a lot more time consuming than machine washing.

  1. Again, turn the shirt inside out to minimise the damage done to the most visible and delicate areas.
  2. Fill a bowl or sink with cool-lukewarm water and a gentle soap/appropriate alternative.
  3. Put the shirt in and gently squeeze it until it has completely absorbed the water.
  4. Spend a minute gently working over the shirt in the bowl.
  5. Leave to soak for a while.
  6. Remove the shirt and run it under a cold tap, until you feel like most of the old water is out.
  7. Leave it to naturally dry.

How should you store a football kit?

Once your shirt is clean, you’ll need to store it in a specific way, in order to further reduce the chances of degradation. We also covered this in our article on maintaining a signed shirt here. You should store your kit in a way that reduces the damaging impact of a few different environmental factors, noted below.

  1. Humidity – A high humidity can promote the growth of mould and rot the material of the shirt. It can also cause fraying.
  2. Sunlight – Almost everything is gradually degraded by sunlight. It causes colours to fade and damages materials.
  3. Heat – A high enough temperature will damage stitching and cause problems with the detailing of the shirt. Adhesive on numbers and sponsors could also be unsettled by too high a temperature.
  4. Airflow – Even if you have accounted for the other factors, poor air circulation will cause your shirt to degrade more quickly.

Knowing these risk factors, you should identify an area of your house that meets all of the criteria. It should be a location in a dark, cool area with low humidity. In terms of specific storage you have a few options. If you are still currently using the shirt, you’ll obviously need to take convenience into account. You could fold it and put it in a draw or hang it on a hangar in a wardrobe. If you won’t be wearing the kit and are thinking about long term storage, you could roll it in a bag, put it on a hangar, or keep it flat somewhere. Some of the issues with each are noted below.

Hanging the shirt up will eventually put strain on the shoulders and could cause minor damage. Folding the kit could again put stress on certain parts of the shirt, causing damage over a long period of time. Rolling it into a bag may seem safe but, depending on the type of bag, the plastic could eventually also damage the kit.

Finally, the option that we would suggest in both cases is to keep the kit completely flat, while accounting for the environmental risks mentioned above. It may be more difficult and time consuming to organise but this will give your kit the best chance of avoiding damage. If you’re still wearing the kit, you could leave your kits in a neat unfolded pile.

It might be best to choose one of the slightly more damaging options, for the sake of convenience though. Keeping the kit flat is ideal if you want to keep a shirt that you don’t plan on wearing. Your best option in this case is to frame it. Follow our guide on framing a football shirt here.

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