Does Your Paintball Mask Stink? Here’s How to Make it Smell Good Again

Does Your Paintball Mask Stink

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One of the great things about paintball is that you can play it in just about any weather conditions. Yeah, the ideal weather might be 65 degrees and sunny, but if you and your friends are willing to brave the elements, paintball can be played come rain or come shine.

Regardless of what the weather conditions are though, it’s pretty much a fact that you’re going to sweat while playing paintball. And since you’re always wearing an enclosed mask while on the field, that sweat can build up inside the mask because it doesn’t have anywhere else to go

And guess what? When things get sweaty, they can start to stink. Ever smelled your socks after a long workout? Yeah they don’t smell like roses.

So it’s not totally uncommon for a paintball mask to start to smell a little funky. But is there anything you can do to get rid of that smell? Let’s find out.

Why does your paintball mask stink?

The inside of paintball masks start to stink when they get damp, stay damp and are never properly dried out. If you can keep the inside of your mask from ever getting damp, then it shouldn’t ever get stinky. That’s easy enough, right?

I think we all know it’s pretty much impossible to expect to be able to keep the inside of your mask dry all the time because everybody sweats when playing paintball. It’s a very physical and active sport where you are running around and exerting lots of energy. So it’s going to get damp and muggy inside to some degree due to your sweat.

So your goal should not be to keep the inside of your mask from ever getting damp. Instead, your goal should be to properly clean and air out your mask in a timely manner after you use it so it doesn’t stay damp inside.

Paintball masks don’t start to smell bad overnight. It typically takes time for a paintball mask to really start to stink. If you would take care of the problem when you first notice it, it would be pretty simple to correct. But if you let it stay damp and fester, the smell is going to grow exponentially worse over time. If you are a heavy sweater and are not cleaning and airing out your mask so that the inside can dry out after every use, sooner or later it’s going to start to stink.

And to compound the problem, most players store their mask in their gear bag right after a game and don’t give it the chance to properly dry out. Stinky paintball masks develop over time due to staying damp on the inside. It doesn’t just all of a sudden come out of nowhere.

Don’t want your mask to stink? Be proactive about cleaning it

Before we get into how to remove the foul smell from your paintball mask though, we want to make a recommendation: be proactive about cleaning your mask and hopefully you won’t ever have to try and deodorize it.

One of the best things you can do to prevent a paintball mask from starting to smell bad is to be consistent about cleaning it right after you leave the paintball field for the day. So if you store your mask away in your gear bag right after a game and leave it there for several days, you’re not doing a good job. The best thing you can do is clean your mask and air it out until it’s dry as soon as you get home from the paintball field.

A Paintball Mask
A Paintball Mask

Consistently cleaning your mask and airing it out until it is dry will be a better deodorizer than any spray you can buy. Your mask needs fresh air to cycle through and completely dry everything out. But if you store it in a cool, dark place like your bag right after a game, it never has a chance to get rid of all the damp sweat in it.

So yes, we are about to cover how to remove that funky smell from your mask once it’s there. But learn from it and be proactive to prevent it before it starts smelling again. Clean your masks after games, air it out and then store it somewhere where it will stay nice and dry. You will thank yourself later.

How to Freshen Up and Deodorize the Inside of Your Paintball Mask

Freshening up the inside of your paintball mask is really a pretty simple and straightforward process. It should only take about 5 or 10 minutes to complete and you will only need a few items that you probably already have around the house.

You will need the following items:

  • A sponge
  • Some mild shampoo
  • A bowl
  • A towel or some large microfiber cloths
  • Fan

Remove the lens

Alright, once you have all those items ready, go ahead and remove the lens from the mask. Why? First of all, it just makes it easier to get in all the tough to reach places inside when the lens is out of the way. Secondly, if the lens is safely removed and out of the way, you can’t damage it. The lens should not be the culprit of the bad smell, so the last thing you want to do is unnecessarily scratch a good lens up or remove the anti-fog coating.

Mix the water and shampoo

Alright, once you get the lens removed, go ahead and put a few cups of warm water in your bowl. Then, take your mild shampoo and add about ½ a teaspoon of it to the warm water. We like using baby shampoo because it is much more sensitive. And since you’re going to be applying a mixture of the water and shampoo inside your mask, there is a chance you could get some of the shampoo in your eyes the next time you play.

You should be able to get most of the shampoo mixture out of the padding at the end of the cleaning, but some shampoo residue might be left behind or wedged in the padding. It’s not a big deal, except when you start playing and sweating, some of that residue that got left behind might get in your sweat and end up in your eyes. If you use normal shampoo or a dish soap, this could sting. Baby shampoo though is much more sensitive and “tear-free”.

Apply the water-shampoo solution to the inside of the mask

Once you add the shampoo to the warm water, now it’s time to mix them together to get a good cleaning solution. Dip the sponge in the mixture, mix it around in the water, and then take the sponge out and wring out the excess water. Do this several times to make sure the shampoo and mixed together good. There should be suds visible before moving on to the next step. If you can’t create enough suds, just add a little more baby shampoo.

Alright, now that you have the water and shampoo solution mixed together, it’s time to actually clean the inside of the mask. You’re not trying to soak the inside of the mask, so get the sponge damp but not dripping wet. Then gently rub down the inside of the mask. You don’t have to rub that hard, just pat down all of the inside and make sure you get all of the foam and lining as these are probably where most of the smell is coming from.

Once you’re satisfied, you want to do one more application but this time with just water on your sponge. This will help remove most of the excess shampoo and prepare the inside to be dried out.

Dry it out

You’re now done cleaning the inside, but there’s still one very important step left: drying it out. Because guess what? If you don’t get it nice and dry inside, that stinky, musky smell is just going to come right back.

To make sure we get the inside dry as a bone, we first carefully towel dry it. Any towel will do, but just be careful when patting the inside down so you don’t damage or rip any of the foam or lining.

After it feels pretty dry, we set up a fan on a table and essentially blow dry the inside of the helmet for between 30 minutes to 1 hour. Using a fan to get it dry might seem like overkill, but we aren’t taking any chances.

Once it is completely dry, you’re done and the smell (or lack thereof) should be greatly improved. Please don’t expect any miracles though. It will definitely help, but temper expectations.

This process helps even the worst smelling masks smell at least a little bit better. But if you’ve been neglecting your mask for a long time and haven’t been taking care of it, there’s a good chance at least some of the smell is going to either be present or come back a little after you’ve played another game in it.

We’ve seen some pretty bad smelling masks recover nicely though by completing this cleaning process 2 or 3 times. It’s dependent on a lot of different factors like the quality of the mask, what materials the mask is made from, etc.

Stuff We Don’t Recommend

Some of you are probably thinking, “why not just spray down the inside of the mask with an air freshener?” That’s one of the worst things you could do. You’re not trying to make the inside of your mask smell good, you’re just trying to remove the bad smell. You don’t need it smelling like a Yankee Candle store in there.

We think you should avoid spraying any type of “air freshener” inside your mask. First of all, yeah it might smell good for a second, but can you imagine playing an entire game with that smell? It gives us a headache just thinking about it. Air fresheners are very potent and once you have your mask on that smell is going to be even more intense in such a confined space. Air fresheners like Febreze, Lysol and Glade are all great products, but not for freshening up the inside of your paintball mask.

Secondly, there’s no reason to put anything in your mask that might end up stinging your eyes or face once you start sweating. Remember, how we recommended using a mild shampoo like baby shampoo to avoid getting anything with a stinging sensation in your eyes? Well any air freshener would be 10x worse.

The Paintball Mask
The Paintball Mask

We also don’t recommend using any type of deodorizer or odor remover. There are helmet freshener products that are made more for motorcycle helmets, bike helmets and they are probably safe to use on your paintball mask, as long as your remove the lens, but we have never used them so we can’t speak to how effective they are. Have any of you used one of these products? Did they help?

If you really want something to help freshen up and add a scent to the inside of your mask, it’s probably safe to go with an dryer sheet. Personally, we wouldn’t do this because we think the smell is too strong and would bother us during a game, but a dryer sheet should help make it smell better without leaving any residue behind. Another problem with using a dryer sheet though is that it’s not going to last for long. The smell will wear off pretty quickly once you start sweating again and then you’re back to square one. It’s only going to mask the smell for a little while.

We know, it’s quite a bit more work to clean the inside of your mask instead of just spraying it down with an air freshener, but it’s worth taking the time to do it the right way. Otherwise, you’re going to pay for it later.

Start cleaning your paintball mask more regularly — or it’s going to start smelling bad again

Everybody sweats while playing, so why doesn’t everybody’s mask start to smell bad? Because lots of paintball players actively clean and dry out their masks after every day of playing.

If you already have a foul smelling paintball mask, it’s not the end of the world. You should be able to freshen up the inside by following the simple process we just discussed. But that smell is just going to keep coming back if you don’t change your mask cleaning habits.

So good luck on trying to get your mask to smell good again, but be more proactive about cleaning it and hopefully this will be the last time you have to deodorize it.

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