As a hockey mom for more than a decade, I thought I had long lost the battle to get the smell from my son’s equipment out of my house…and out of my car, and out of him…and out of everywhere else. To be blunt, none of the items in his bag are permitted past the basement in our house, and that’s been the rule since he hit puberty. If you aren’t aware of the smell having an athlete in the family brings, consider yourself lucky.
I had long given up on finding a way to get rid of it. When he was smaller, Febreeze or Lysol and a good fan helped, but really that was just masking the odor, not eliminating it. The older he got, the worse the smell became, and the harder it was to get rid of. Multiple handwashings don’t even get rid of the glove smell. What’s even worse is realizing it’s not just a smell. It’s bacteria and germs which could be dangerous to my child. Some of that could even be MRSA, which could even make him sick. I had always been under the impression there wasn’t much you could do. We put what we could in the washing machine and still sprayed and aired things out, but our family always assumed we were stuck with the smell.
That is until we were introduced to Brozone.
Brozone is the brainchild of two South Hills brothers, Adam and Mark Rice. Mark has more than a decade of experience in Division I intercollegiate athletics and understands the medical, equipment, safety and sports performance needs of today’s athletes. Adam is a licensed Pharmacist who owns Spartan Pharmacy in Brentwood. His background in microbiology and infectious disease brings an understanding of unsanitary sports equipment and what it can cause. It’s akin to wearing the same clothes to the gym day after day without ever washing them. Just as you wash clothes, sports equipment deserves the same treatment.
The Rice brothers created an on-the-go ozone sanitation solution to sanitize sporting gear, eliminating the odor and lowering the risk of sports equipment borne infection and get rid of the awful smell that can come with it. If taken care of properly with instructions the brothers provide after treatment, the sanitation can last up to three months.
Mark Rice and the Brozone van pulled right up to our house. They can also sanitize equipment at hockey rinks, but will come to homes personally, which is a major convenience. As a hockey parent, I can personally tell you there have been services that have popped up over the years that do clean hockey equipment, but many don’t last, you don’t hear about most of them, and they can be very pricey. It’s not a very convenient business for those of us who actually want to use them. Brozone shattered that reputation in the hour they graced my home. As we had my son gather up his equipment and load it into the back of the truck, Rice explained how oxygen kills the germs and odor.
“Ozone is just an old-school sanitizer,” Rice said. “We have the ozone generator and it pumps the chamber full of ozone, and it literally kills just about everything, bacteria, mold, fungus, yeasts, viruses, etc. Bacteria is the big thing. Because all that stuff lingers in there. Kids throw their wet stuff in the bag, and it just continues to just breed and that’s how we get fungus. So we throw it (the equipment) in there (the generator,) fire it up, and we just ramp it up to a concentration that is four times higher than our competitors’ concentrations.”
The generator the Rice brothers have is based off of a model used by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Montour High School. It’s a large stainless steel ozone cabinet which they have made mobile to fit their desire to have a faster turnout for their customers.
The process mainly takes skates, bags, pants, gloves, helmets, the hard to wash gear. Things such as jerseys usually aren’t included, as those are better off in the washing machine. Hockey is not the only sport they do, it’s just what our family did and has personal experience with. They are able to do almost any sport that requires equipment. The price is very reasonable. For a single hockey player, it was $40 for the equipment, $5 extra for his bag. Deals are also available if you buy multiple cleanings (punch cards) or cleanings for multiple players, such as a sanitation party for your team.
The entire cleaning process takes about 20 minutes in the cabinet and is completed right in front of the house or rink. Mark explained the entire process to us and the customer service was excellent. As for how effective the process was, remember earlier how I mentioned how bad my son’s hands just smelled after wearing his hockey gloves, even after he washed his hands multiple times? After Mark and Brozone cleaned them, my son and I were able to actually smell the inside of his gloves without gagging!
If something isn’t up to par, Mark will gladly run it through again. He’s intent of getting the best result to his customers. He is also very diligent on after-care instructions. The better you follow those instructions, the longer the cleaning lasts. As a family with a hockey player, especially an older hockey player where the equipment can get especially smelly, we are grateful to have had this experience with Brozone and can’t recommend them enough!
To contact Brozone, check out their mobile sanitation calendar to find them at your local ice rink, their website, or call 1- 855-948-0310 or email [email protected] to schedule today. Currently serving Pittsburgh and surrounding area.