What is Football Helmet Reconditioning?

Learn the process of reconditioning your favorite football equipment for seasons to come with these Pro Tips.

June 17, 2020

At the end of a season, your football helmet can be a little worse for wear. Throughout the year, your equipment gets scuffed, stained and taken through the wringer. To ensure your gear is ready for the next season, it should go in for a bit of a tune-up.

Not only does helmet reconditioning help players start each season with polished gear; it can also help promote player safety. Learn more about this process with these football tips from Xenith’s Marketing Operations Manager Matt Rea.


There are many reasons why it’s recommended to have your helmet reconditioned. For one, helmet reconditioning can help restore that shine to your equipment. The aesthetics of a season-worn helmet can be less appealing to some. Reconditioned helmets give the look and feel of new equipment.

Rea also adds having your football helmet reconditioned can help extend the lifespan of your gear. Helmets can be expensive, so you should want to get as many seasons out of your equipment as possible.


It’s important to recognize that football helmet reconditioning is not the same as helmet recertification. However, these two processes do go hand in hand.

Reconditioning is the inspection, cleaning, sanitizing, repair and/or restoration of athletic equipment to the original performance standard. According to the National Operating Committee on the Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), recertification is the process whereby previously certified helmets and other athletic equipment undergo testing to determine whether the equipment continues to meet the original certification requirements. Sampled helmets go through testing before and after reconditioning to confirm their recertification status.

Proper football helmet recertification is done by those licensed by NOCSAE to recertify football helmets. For example, the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA) requires all members to hold current licenses from NOCSAE for proper recertification.

While NOCSAE does not require helmet recertification, the committee still strongly recommends the process when possible and appropriate. Manufacturers may choose to prohibit the recertification of a helmet model, but NOCSAE standards mandate that if a manufacturer has obtained a certification of compliance with NOCSAE standards for helmets and it prohibits the recertification of a helmet model, it must specify a useful life of the new helmet certification.

BONUS PRO TIP: Since January 2017, NOCSAE has required helmet manufacturers to specify a recertification frequency. This requirement is an effort to maintain the validity of the original new helmet certification.  NOCSAE recommends that helmets manufactured before this time period undergo annual recertification. Also, NAERA will not recondition or recertify helmets 10 years and older. Additionally, NAERA recommends annual recertification for all football helmets 10 years or newer.


The football helmet reconditioning process begins with the facility receiving helmets in bags. Upon arrival, workers mark samples identified for testing with a tag placed through the ear hole. Sample helmets go directly to the test lab within the facility in their received condition without modification. Once testing has ended, the helmets can enter the normal reconditioning process. Workers remove face masks, decals and hardware. Internal parts are inspected and removed for cleaning. Workers inspect helmet shells for defects and test for cracks. Inspections help locate and reject any defective samples. Next, workers buff or sandblast the helmets before washing and – potential – painting. Helmet components then go through washing and drying, and internal components are inspected and tested with air liners inflated prior to reinstallation. A NOCSAE drop test is performed before and after reconditioning and facemasks are reattached with new hardware.

Following the test and reassembly, workers label the helmets with a recertification logo indicating the year and recertifying firm. The helmet can then return to the customer.


If you are considering having your helmet reconditioned, the first step is to contact your helmet’s manufacturer, according to Rea. From there, the manufacturer’s requirements regarding reconditioning and warranty maintenance can be used as guidance for continued use. This is especially true in cases where a helmet has been made prior to January 2017. NOCSAE recommends and encourages anyone with concerns or questions about their equipment to send their gear to a reconditioner for inspection. From here, you can begin the process to prepare your equipment for the upcoming season.

A reconditioned football helmet can help you look fresh and feel safer when you return to the field. With these football Pro Tips, you can wrap your head around the entire process just in time for kickoff. Still looking for your first football helmet? Strap up with these gridiron Pro Tips and discover how to buy the right football helmet for your needs.