How To Clean Protective Bike Gear

How To Clean Protective Bike Gear

Plenty of riders stay on top of keeping their bikes clean, and also their biking apparel, including jerseys, shirts, shorts, and shoes (at least we hope they do.)

Understandably, protective gear tends to get overlooked. Well, overlooked until you go to ride one day and the smell from your helmet is rather...unpleasant.

So what to do? Clean your gear, that's what.

In a perfect world, we could just throw out helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads into a washing machine and call it good, but that's not how it works, unfortunately.

Here's a quick guide for cleaning your bike protective gear.


We’ll start with bike helmets, as they are the most utilized protective gear. For the most part, bike helmets are actually pretty easy to clean, and you have more than one choice for doing so.

The vast majority of helmets will include manufacturer's instructions for cleaning, so always check for that first to make sure you’re doing it right. If not, the methods below will work just as well.


This is going to be the least intensive way to clean. If your helmet is just a little dirty, if even just on the outside, you can get by with a quick rinse. You can do this in your sink, or with a hose outside.

Simply spray the helmet down with water, and use a dry towel or paper towel to wipe away any dirt. Allow to air dry, and you’re good to go.


This method may sound a little funny, but it’s actually very effective, especially if you’ve just gotten done with a ride and need to go straight to the shower to clean off.

Showering Cycling Helmet

Take a small amount of shampoo, and use your hands to work the shampoo into the inside of the helmet’s foam padding. Do this for about a minute, and pay close attention to any areas that look dirtier than others. After that, put the helmet on your head, and rinse it off using the shower head.

Take the helmet off after you're done, and hang it to dry for a few minutes. After that, you can continue dry it outside, or place it anywhere that’s not humid.


If wearing your bike helmet in the shower isn’t your thing, you can do the process in the sink instead. Dampen the inside of the helmet, and then apply a small amount of shampoo, gently working it into the foam. Rinse with warm water and dry after.


Elbow and knee pads have a lot more actual fabric and padding to them, so you really can get by washing them in the washing machine.

To clean your pads in a washing machine, always use the gentle/knits cycle, and follow these guidelines:

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    ​Place the pads inside a mesh bag or pillow case
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    ​Fasten velcro straps together
    Fasten velcro straps together
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    ​Use a small amount of detergent
    Use a small amount of detergent
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    ​Wash with clothes that don’t cause lint (such as denim jeans)
    Wash with clothes that don’t cause lint (such as denim jeans)
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    ​Air dry only, or dry in the sun
    Air dry only, or dry in the sun
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    ​Never dry using direct heat
    Never dry using direct heat


Simple, right? Now you can always be sure to keep your helmet and pads looking and smelling clean regularly. Just make sure you aren’t hanging on to them too long, always replace protective gear at the first signs of significant wear.




This post was last updated on June 5th, 2018 at 02:11 pm

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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