The Bogu is definitely a very important part of your kendo practice, like your kendogi and hakama it gets regular use but unlike those two it is harder to wash. Therefore the bogu develops a very interesting smell to say the least, specially the Kote. Odor is caused by the reproduction of bacteria, and one of the places that is ideal for bacteria to grow is inside of the Kote.
Cleaning Kote throughly can be difficult for a couple of reasons. First there’s no air circulation in the Kote Atama so drying that area can be difficult and bacteria can grow around the stuffing (some Bogu manufactures are coming up with ways of combating bacteria growth in this area) Then if you wash the inside of the Kote it can also be hard to dry it (and not to mention that the leather can get damaged if not dried properly).
The problem I encounter when cleaning Kote is that there are many products, chemicals, and ideas, but if you are like me you want to avoid using chemicals as much as possible and want to protect the leather areas, so you don’t want to soak them in water (I tried it once and ruined the palm and completely changed the color of my kote) or use many chemicals.
Bellow is an idea to use when cleaning Kote. I find it to be safe on the skin, quick, and cheap. One thing to remember is that not too much Hydrogen peroxide should be use at once, and it can also be diluted with water to avoid bleaching the dye (although I didn’t diluted when trying it and I didn’t get any damage), and avoid using hydrogen peroxide above 3%.
Some other tips on caring for your Kote are to wash your hands before practice, drying your kote as soon as you can after practice (I used this before with good results specially when doing kendo several days in a row), and having an extra pair always helps specially if you practice consistently so the kote are able to dry fully before practice.
I hope this is useful and if you have any other techniques or ideas on cleaning kote please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, like, share, and subscribe. Check out this article on bringing your shinai and Bogu in a plane if you are getting ready to travel to Japan for the 16th World Kendo Championship!!!.