Year-round riding. It’s the gift tropical weather blesses us riders in this country. But all that sun also brings things unpleasant: heat, sweat, and bacteria. If left unchecked, these three buddies can take over the inside of any helmet and whip up a stinking mess. While healthy bacteria are great for your gut, they don’t do your face or hygiene any favors.
No need to worry, though—we’ve got you covered with a guide to keeping your helmet looking and smelling fresh. Read on.
1) Match your helmet-washing routine with how much you ride and perspire.
If you sweat buckets or ride day in, day out, it’s a good idea to give your helmet’s pads and liners a thorough cleaning once a week. Air-drying after each ride will also help keep smells at bay until laundry day.
Don’t sweat or ride much? You might get away with giving your helmet attention every other week or once a month. But, once the inside of your helmet starts smelling ripe, you know it’s time for a wash.
2) Wear a balaclava.
Want to extend the time between washings? Give in to your inner ninja and wear a balaclava. It’s inexpensive, and will buy you more time before you have to clean the insides of your helmet. It absorbs your sweat, so your helmet liners don’t have to. Fewer chores mean more riding outside.
3) Baby your helmet.
Your helmet protects the most important part of your body; it pays to shower it with care. Always use a mild soap or baby shampoo to clean your helmet—both inside and out. Mild detergents will preserve the foam and fabric of your helmet, saving you from a premature trip to a motorcycle shop.
Buy a pack of quality microfiber towels, too. You’ll be soaking those in warm water, then draping them on top of your helmet to break up dirt and anything else that has latched onto it. Tackle stubborn dirt and stains with a soft-bristle toothbrush, and handwash when you can. If you must use the washing machine, be sure to put your helmet liners inside a mesh bag before starting a gentle cycle.
4) Shun harsh solvents.
Part of keeping a helmet in tip-top shape is knowing when not to go overboard with maintenance. Wiping down your face shield with glass cleaner or using canned air to clear blocked air vents may seem like life hacks, but exercise caution. Most helmet manufacturers advise against these quick fixes because they can weaken or damage the foam, liners, and protective coatings of a helmet. To keep things simple: Stay away from cleaning products with ammonia, petroleum distillate, and fabric softeners, especially if they’re aerosols.
Cleaning your helmet regularly not only lengthens its lifetime, but also leads to more pleasant motorcycle rides. Hey, it might even give you bragging rights or envious looks on your next group ride.