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Originally posted by Fitbafan at the TeamSport90 Community Forum.

So, the match is over, the nets are down and thatīs it for another weekend of football. Or is it?

Apparently not as according to recent statistics there will be around 2100 tons of dirty football kit to be washed before next weekendīs action can begin. Nearly 2.5 million mums, partners and agreeing other family members will use in the region of 38 million litres of water and 132,000 litres of washing powder, at a cost of Ģ17.5 million pounds a season, to get the sorry looking football kit back to gleaming condition.

As head coach and purveyor of all these kits, how do you ensure that they keep coming back in top condition week after week? Below there are the three main options on how to tackle the big clean up. The ins and outs of cleaning the kit are covered later in the article. For now weīll concentrate on who will take up the challenge.

Keep it in the club The first option is to take the task on yourself or appoint someone from the team to take on the role of kit person. The responsible person is then tasked with collecting all of the kit in immediately after the game and returning it back to the club in time for next weekīs match. There are a few important steps to be taken to ensure that the brave challenger succeeds in their quest.

Ask the players to ensure that they place their full kit on the bench in the changing room before leaving. This will either be observed or not. Youīll know if your request has fallen on deaf ears when you enter the changing room and find an amalgamated pile of socks, shorts, tops and divots.

In this situation it is a good idea to count all the articles of clothing in. Thereīs nothing worse than returning to the club one sock short of a full kit only to find the offending sock dangling from a cloakroom peg and still smeared with mud. If the players have complied with your simple request to pile their kits separately, youīll be able to bag each kit individually too. This way if there is an item missing, youīll know exactly who to speak to by referring to the kit number.

When returning the kit to the team after completing your duties always fold the kits and again bag individually and invite someone to double check that the expected contents are all present.

The professionals An easier option may be to take the kits to a professional laundrette. You still need to collect all the kit in, ensure itīs all there and return it complete however, most of the manual labour is completed by the laundrette staff. They know what theyīre doing and will on the most part return the kits to you in A1 condition. If there are any problems with the kit then you may be in a position to ask the laundrette to replace the damaged or lost article although you should always check their terms and conditions before handing over your hard earned strips. What you can be sure of is that there will be a charge for this service, thatīs something that can be avoided by taking one of the other two suggested options in this list.

Mums, Dads, partners and anyone willing The third option is the option that Pumpherston United have opted for. It is the easiest of all the options, but also the one that could potentially cause more problems. Asking the players to do it themselves (or have a willing family member do it for them being most likely) is cost effective for the club. It also allows those associated with the club to afford more time on other matters.

Before handing any kit over however, players should be made aware that the kit belongs to the club. Itīs not to be used as a trendy nightclub top following the recent cup final win and it isnīt their new PE outfit either. The player is responsible for looking after the kit and returning it to the club complete and in tip-top condition. This is where the concerns can grow...

Expecting the kit to be washed in the luxury of itīs own 30 degree cycle is on the most part wishful thinking. Itīll most likely be gathered up with all the other darks or lights and untangled from the school uniform or overalls 90 minutes later. You can however give polite directions on how to care for the precious load and again remind the temporary owner of their duty to return the kit as a maroon and white kit as opposed to a maroon and pink one.

On a card to be given to the player with his or her kit I would suggest starting off the instructions by thanking the player for taking on the responsibility of caring for the kit. Next up Iīd provide a quick check-list to be followed.

  1. Wash the kit as soon as possible after the match as this allows the kit to be washed at a lower temperature which retains colour for longer and reduces the risk of damage.
  2. Before placing the kit in the machine remove as much mud and grass from it as possible. This saves any damage to the machine and gives better cleaning results.
  3. If possible wash the kit on itīs own in a separate load, perhaps with the tracksuit or training top if this is of the same colouring.
  4. If it is not possible to wash the kit on itīs own wash it with similar coloured items that suggest a washing cycle and temperature that is the same as the kit.
  5. Always check the garments instructions and follow these as closely as possible to avoid damage including shrinkage and colour runs.
  6. Remove the kit from the machine and separate items as soon as possible after the load has finished washing to avoid heavy creasing and damage to logos and badges
  7. Hang items separately rather than layering on top of other items to avoid colour bleeding between items.
  8. Donīt be tempted to tumble dry items as this can cause cracking to logos and badges and can also result in shrinkage.
  9. Once the kit has dried donīt iron the garments if itīs not necessary. Avoiding additional heat on the garments prolongs the colour and reduces the risk of damage to logos and badges. If you absolutely have to iron the kit then make sure you avoid ironing over the front of any printing by ironing the garment inside out.
  10. If something has gone wrong, tell the coach as soon as possible. [Include contact information] This gives the coach time to find a replacement avoiding any last minute panic situations before next weeks game!

The instructions above can also be given to a nominated kit person from the club to ensure the longevity and condition of the kits week after week.

This of course is not an ultimate guide to kit care. You may have a few suggestions of your own to add to the information above or may even have a few questions on the above. I hope that it has prompted some thought on how to increase the lifespan of the average football kit though?

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