Bogu is kendoka´s biggest investment hands down. And we all want to take good care of our equipment so here are a few basic tips for bogu maintenance.
Right after practice remove men and wipe inside with a dry cloth (you may use a dry tenugui or other type of cloth). Then pack your bogu and go home. Once at home take all bogu parts out (men, kote, do, tare) and set them out to dry. This is the tricky part because if you live in a warm, humid place chances are bogu will not dry quickly. If you live in a place where sunlight is poor you have another reason to worry.
In warm, humid weather there is hardly any wind. Ventilation is key to bogu getting dry otherwise moistness will settle in and that hideous stench all kendoka know will surely emerge. If you live in an apartment with a small balcony you are in luck, but if your apartment has no balcony you will have to get a fan or two to air dry bogu properly. Sunlight is crucial for killing bacteria that thrives inside men so if possible gather all bogu parts and set them in a sunlit place. Unkind, noon-like sunlight is recommended for less than 20 minutes. Bogu should be out in soft sunlight that allows it to dry without scorching it. Here is a picture of Lopez Sensei's bogu set out over his car. It was a cloudy afternoon with little sunlight and before 6:00 pm bogu was transferred indoors where it dried out completely.
Once bogu is fully dry you should wipe men inside with a cloth and some rubbing alcohol. You can either spray men with alcohol or simply rub it in with the cloth. Alcohol will kill bacteria and keep men cage clean. One application should be enough to keep men disinfected and you should do this at least once a week if you practice every day.
We would like to receive maintenance tips from other kendoka, especially from those residing in cold places such as Europe, Japan or any other country.