How to Keeping Cycling Gear Clean Guide

Bicycling clothing is getting more and more sophisticated, and in lots of situations, more costly too. There are now specialized garments available for cyclists that can cater to nearly any type of climate or type of cycling. These items range from winter jackets to summer jerseys, gravel bibs, gloves, and mitts, as well as a variety of base layers.

Fortunately, today’s gear is quite sturdy, however, over-cleaning or inadequate maintenance will cause it to deteriorate more quickly. What is the best approach to maintaining cycling gear that needs to be washed frequently but not compromised?

1. Cycling Clothing

Sniff test

It is not necessary to wash every item of clothing after every cycling session. Putting on multiple layers of clothing and different pieces of jewellery may be acceptable for multiple outdoor activities, especially when the weather is good. In comparison, articles of clothing that go directly on the skin, such as bib-shorts, undergarments, and socks, should be washed after every use.

Ryan Schoeck from Assos believes that many outer layers do not have this issue. He mentions that the outer layers just need a rapid cleaning or a little rinse. Riding items such as raincoats, mittens, vests, hats, etc. may return as clean as when they departed, or may just be lightly dust-covered.

Spotting things that only need to be aired or flushed out can reduce the number of laundry loads and the total amount of possibly destructive wash cycles for the clothing.

Pre-wash recommends doing full loads of laundry when possible to save energy, as it does not matter how large the load is for the amount of energy used.

It is improbable to have enough laundry for a full cycle unless you are surrounded by cyclists in your home. It is essential to consider how to store garments that are worn close to the skin or are dirty until they are laundered again.

Bacteria thrive in warm and moist conditions, like the interior of a laundry basket that has not been emptied for some time. If provided with a chance, bacterial accumulation will make equipment dirtier and smellier, eventually necessitating thorough cleaning.

Leaving clothing that isn’t too soiled to air dry before being put away can help stop unwelcome smells from emerging and make them simpler to clean at a later time. Especially filthy items, for example, ones with mud or road splatter (see an item listed below), ought to be given a preliminary rinse and then straight away put through a full wash cycle.

It is best to wash garments that are especially dirty as soon as possible after wearing them since stains that are left to sit for a long time will be more difficult to remove.

Inside out

One more suggestion, which should be relatively easy to do, is to clean clothing items by turning them inside out before doing so. There isn’t any reason for you to be sluggish about turning your clothing inside out as you take it off. Schoeck recommends washing cycling apparel by turning the clothes inside out to preserve the hue.

Graeme Raeburn of British clothing brand, Albion, suggests that modern soccer kits with sublimated colours are better protected from wear and tear if they are washed inside out.

Zipped-up zips

Zippers and Velcro can cause harm to the kit, both of which have been emphatically advised against by the specialists we consulted.

Make sure all zips and velcro are securely shut and fixed before putting your gear in the basket or washing machine. Zips that are not securely fastened can be bad for both garments and your machine, whereas Velcro that is left open can easily attach itself to other items and cause them damage.

Laundry bags

The bags divide up each person’s laundry, eliminating the hassle of combing through a large selection of clothes to look for a mislaid arm warmer, sock, or glove. Nevertheless, those laundry bags can be put to good use in the home as well.

The vigorous agitation of a wash cycle can harm any light or fragile bibs and jerseys. Placing the kit in a bag before washing it can shield it from any damaging movement or turning. Lots of brands now include a laundry bag with their items, especially for this purpose.

It looks like a lot of planning is required to clean a kit, but most of the tips here are just slight modifications to our existing practices.

2. Shoes

We wash our clothes more often than we do our shoes, usually neglecting to clean them at all. There’s no reason to avoid giving your cycling shoes, which now exclusively use synthetic leather, a good cleaning once in a while.

Take out the inner soles and, if your shoes have them, untie the laces. Mix some warm water with a few drops of dish soap in a bucket and then get a brush with firm bristles. Thoroughly clean the outside of the shoes, using a brush to get into the nooks and crannies to remove any dirt trapped in the mesh.

Rinse just as thoroughly in cold water.

Put them in a spot that is warm but not exposed to direct sunlight to dry them out. Fill the interiors with clean rags, paper towels, or newspaper to facilitate faster drying. Replace them when they get saturated.

If you are eager to get technical, you could put your boots and gloves on a drying device like the DryGuy Force Dry which only costs £45 – £50. Investing in a boot dryer is a wise decision if you frequently travel or do winter sports.

3. Helmets

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that slips and falls in bathrooms can often result in serious harm. Protect yourself by wearing your riding helmet while in the shower. Seriously speaking, the best place to clean a helmet is the shower.

Water is an effective cleanser, and your normal shampoo is awesome for eliminating all the salt-filled mess from your helmet ties and padding (and you know it won’t bother your head).

If the cushioning on your helmet is quite filthy, you can take it off and put it through the washing machine. Employ a dainty clothing bag to hinder them from being misplaced in the quantity.

If the pads on the helmet are not usable, you should purchase a new set; usually, the manufacturer can get them to you at a small cost, even if you have an older model. Not available direct or from a dealer? Check eBay and Amazon.

4. Hydration packs

Using a clean cloth or brush, you can clean any fabric packs. You can tidy up a whole bunch of it if it gets ruined. The most effective method to reinvigorate straps and back panels, which tend to accumulate odours due to being pressed against our bodies when we use them, is to do the same.

Empty everything out of the bag and take out the bladder, hose, back panel stiffener, and any other items such as your phone. Fill a basin or sink with warm water and place it in the pack to soak. Squeeze in a good amount of dish soap, around 3-5 seconds worth.

Submerge the pack in uniformly soapy water. Employ your bristle brush to remove arduous dirt and to scour zippers to sparkling cleanliness. Grasp the back cushion and shoulder straps with your hands and use them to force the sudsy liquid through the foam.

Let it be in the water for a couple of minutes and then empty the sink. Then fill it with the same amount of cold water to rinse it off. Soak the bundle, and press the ties and back padding over again to remove the detergent.

This task may require two separate rinses to be completed. After draining the material, lightly press it to get rid of any extra moisture before carefully draping it in a shower or some other location where drips won’t damage the surfaces below.

5. Glasses

Do not spit on your lenses to clean them, instead use the corner of your shirt, a facial tissue, or other types of paper products. Be sure to place them on the top of your head or the back of your neck when storing them. All the techniques used involve components such as dirt or oil, which can cause even scratch-resistant lenses to get scuffed or scratched.

Do give them a good scrub regularly. Pop-out removable lenses to clean separately. Rinse everything under warm water. Put a bit of dish soap onto the lenses and frames, using a Q-tip to get into the nooks and crannies.

Be aware of the nose pieces and temples, especially the grippy rubber material, as it tends to become sticky and messy with sweat and grime. Dry everything with a clean microfiber cloth. Employ the same material for eliminating stains as well. Purchase a few and switch them out, washing them regularly to keep them clean.

6. Handlebar Tape and Grips

Tape and grips are initially pristine, however, they get dirty quickly. Spray some bike degreaser onto the handles and tapes and thoroughly wipe them off with a clean rag or sponge to give them a fresh look.

It might require some effort to remove crusty dirt. Rinse with clean water and dry with a rag. If the dirt has been pressed too firmly into the tape or grips, purchase a sponge eraser (from hardware or home improvement stores), get it damp with water, and gently rub the affected areas.

Sponge erasers are especially helpful when working with matte tape and getting into the small details of grips. But take care when using them on handlebar tape.

The items are crafted from melamine foam, which functions similarly to ultra-fine sandpaper. Most handlebar tape has a different finish than the foam that is underneath, and it could be damaged if you scrub it too forcefully.

If you remove a layer of the lighter-coloured tapes, you may notice that the material underneath appears to be much more vibrant than the surface even after it has been cleaned thoroughly.

Not every stain is dirt; lighter tapes may become faded or discoloured from being exposed to ultraviolet rays. You can freshen up your grips and tape as often as you desire, yet keep in mind that the tape has a limited lifespan.

Most of it is made out of a material similar to that of running shoes, which is called EVA foam. As a result, it will eventually lose its padding and become brittle and more likely to tear when cleaning.

If your tape is older than a couple of years, it could be advantageous to purchase a new one. The longevity of grips is considerable, but when the grip’s rubber surface begins to wear out, it’s time to get a new set.

Detergent for cycling kit

It could have seemed like it would be forever until we ultimately arrived at the laundry machine. What now? Raeburn suggests refraining from using a bio-washing detergent for all three types of kits.

Graeme Raeburn, who works for a British clothing company, believes that people often mistakenly think that “bio” means that a washing detergent is eco-friendly. In truth, “bio” is a shortened form of the word “biological”, implying the cleaner is composed of a biological enzyme.

Raeburn notes that a biological catalyst called an enzyme is highly effective in removing stains, but it also is detrimental to the elastane, lycra, or spandex of our clothes, which causes them to wear out faster.

Imagine a pair of dungarees that have seen better days, loosely fitting and nearly worn through, the fabric discoloured to a faded grey and even slightly transparent.

The enzymes in the biological detergent will significantly hasten the degradation, making the item appear older than it really is. The damage is even worse for merino garments.

Avoid fabric softeners too. The same outcome of biological detergents can be created by these products, however, they will make the clothing feel smoother. Additionally, fabric softeners can permeate the fibres, resulting in the entrapment of blemishes and smells on your next journey and can limit air flow.

Raeburn suggests using a dedicated sportswear detergent instead of biological detergents when it comes to laundering synthetic and merino garments.

The non-bio detergent contains compounds that separate grime from fabrics, suspending them in the liquid and allowing them to be removed. Nevertheless, not all non-biodegradable cleaning agents are the same, and some could be rather damaging to the environment.

For now, the main thing to note is to pick an eco-friendly, non-biodegradable detergent. We delved deeper into this topic in the environmental considerations portion of this text.

Assos, Bend36, and NickWax all offer cycling-specific laundry detergents. In addition, multiple companies sell laundry detergents made specifically for sports, each one claiming it can remove stains and smells while still being gentle on delicate materials.

I tried out a few different detergents when writing this article, and now my go-to is a natural, homemade, non-toxic option. More on this later.

Keep it cool

Do not be tempted to increase the temperature on your modern washing machine, despite the different temperature options that it may possess. It is advised by producers for nearly all bicycle apparel to be washed in cool water at 30 degrees Celsius.

The most robust kit will be damaged or even wiped out by rising temperatures. As indicated by, most of the energy that is utilized to operate a clothes washer is used up to heat the water at 90%.

Raeburn states that a 30-degree Celsius cycle is ideal for the average load of laundry, but it might be necessary to increase the heat to 40 degrees Celsius to remove more stubborn stains without damaging the fabric.

Extra rinse

This one is a little complicated. Having laundry detergent and cycling gear in the same living space does not produce a harmonious environment. Using the extra rinse setting on your washing machine can make sure that all or most of the soap is washed away from your clothes.

However, an additional rinse will use up much more water and energy, ultimately amplifying the environmental effects and expenses of our garments after numerous washing cycles.

Spin cycle

Resources indicate that lengthening and/or increasing the speed of a spin cycle can be cost-effective throughout the laundering process because it shortens the drying time. However, things are a little different for cycling kits.

Whenever we can, it is best to avoid using a tumble dryer to dry cycling clothing. When it comes to washing cycling gear, it is best to use a lower setting on the spin cycle.

The spinning drum in a washing machine rapidly removes water from the clothing by utilizing a centrifugal force generated at its high speed of rotation.

The centrifugal forces press multiple layers of clothing tightly against the side of the drum, causing it to release water like a sponge being squeezed.

Clearly, this is not suitable for the delicate material in our specialized cycling gear. Choose a slower speed when washing cycling clothes, as opposed to the 1,500 revolutions per minute that are ideal for regular clothing. Schoeck suggests 600-800 rpm maximum.


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