How To Clean Your Bike Helmet

How To Clean Your Bike Helmet

Looking after your cycling helmet might
seem like common sense, and to a certain extent, it is, but there are one or two things you’ll need to avoid in order to keep it in good condition. And let’s face it, no one wants
a dirty helmet. They can get smelly, infested with bacteria, maybe even a bit of fungus. And if you get too close, they can look really unsightly. So don’t be a dirtbag, keep your helmet clean so you don’t
start to lose friends. Now there are three main bits to clean. There’s the shell,
then inside you have the pads, and then finally the strap. Now they don’t all need cleaning at exactly the same time they get dirty at different rates. You don’t need to thoroughly scrub your helmet from the inside out after every single ride. For example, in the UK winter, where I tend to wear a cap underneath my helmet, that is what absorbs the sweat, and that goes in to the washing machine with the rest of my cycling kit. However I will need to scrub the outside of the helmet more, because it will get covered in mud and grime and get splashed up from the road. However in the summer, where
hopefully at least I’ll get to ride in the rain a little bit less, and I will get
a bit more of a sweat on — yes even I might get a bit of a sweat — then I’ll need to thoroughly clean
the inside of the helmet far more than the outside. As a quick wash just dunk the
lid in a bucket of cold water and wash it with a sponge. Now it’s a great way of
getting all the surface muck off the lid, getting it looking shiny again for your next ride. If you want to clean it more thoroughly, just be careful about using any harsh
cleaning products on it, so nothing more in fact than a mild, pH neutral soap, like dish soap. Certainly petroleum, or solvent-based cleaners, are absolute no-nos. Both will seriously compromise, and damage, the integrity of the helmet. Now I know some people recommend it,
not that I’ve done it myself, but getting into the shower with your helmet after your ride is an excellent place to clean it. In theory, at least, I think that’s starting to encroach on my personal space, but any cleaning products that you use on your body are also likely to be gentle
enough for your helmet. On to the pads now, and if you want to clean them properly, you’re going to have to remove them. Generally just a gentle pull on the velcro to loosen them off. Now hand washing is probably the easiest way to clean them, but you could also stick them in with the rest of your cycling kit into the washing machine, on a
really low cycle, like 30 degrees. So what about the strap? Well, you really shouldn’t neglect this, because it sits next to your skin, you sweat into it, in fact, to the point where, on a really long, hot ride, you can often see white salt marks on the strap of the helmet. To clean it, as with the rest of your helmet, simply wet the strap, put a bit of mild soap on there, work it in, and then rinse it off. So your bucket of water is the perfect place for this. That should keep your helmet looking good, and smelling nice and fresh. But what about making sure that it works when you need it? Well, how you store it, and look after it, is really, really important, so always keep it away from direct sunlight and high temperatures
both of which can degrade the structure the helmet. And when I say high temperatures, I mean even leaving the helmet in the boot of your car on hot and sunny days. But bear in mind that no matter how well you look after the lid, it does have a natural shelf life. So even your sweat, for example, will gradually degrade the inside of the lid. Most helmet manufacturers recommend you do replace it after about three years or so. And that’s
regardless of crashes. If you have a big smash then you’re probably going to want to replace it almost immediately. Now to a certain extent, that does depend on how much riding you
do, and how well you look after it, but please, please, please, don’t
think of a cycling helmet as a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. You need to be able to rely on it when you really need it.
Now how you wear your cycling helmet has a huge bearing on how effective is going to be
as well. And although it seems simple, you still might not have it right. So to make sure you do, you can click up there, and get straight through to a video showing exactly how. Or, if you are in the market for new helmet, then Lloydy will take you through how to choose a cycling helmet, and you can get through to that by clicking down there. Or, to subscribe to GCN, so you don’t miss any other Maintenance Monday videos, or any of the golden nuggets of information that we often… …sometimes… … occasionally give you, then you can just
click on me to subscribe.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Do you think Simon cleans all the guys helmets or just his? 😉 Great video guys! Something that I never thought about!

  2. Just a thought…..   That helmet pad had velcro on it, didn't it?  I've never found that velcro and lycra get on well in the washing machine – would it be wise to stick in one of those mesh washing bags?

  3. Was this whole segment just one giant innuendo?? Would you ever wash a friends helmet, if he REALLY needed you to?

  4. Was this whole segment just one giant innuendo?? Would you ever wash a friends helmet, if he REALLY needed you to?

  5. Here is another good way to clean helmet pads/liners:
    Get some detol, add a small amount to the kitchen sink along with warm water, about a cap full. It should be a translucent liquid not like milk. clean the pads in the solution (just hand squeeze the pads and aggregate them) and then let soak for 15-20 mins, remove and rinse again under warm water to remove all the detol and Air dry.
    Once dry you should notice a faint smell of the detol on the liner. This kills the bacteria in the pads. I normally do this once in a while for a deep clean or before storing the helmet. This method can also be used for goggles, pads etc.. if you also do mountain biking.

  6. I once had a big crash and cracked my Giro Aeon. Now it is just sitting on a shelf. What do you recommend that I can do with a cracked helmet that still looks good but not for use?

  7. If you are going to put the pads in a washing machine, put them in a mesh bag. I didn't and one of them worked its way into the door seam and was shredded,

  8. It would be more useful to talk the real problems. Like, i am midle age man and have max out nosehair. What to do with those?🙅🏼corner

  9. Mmh, my helmet is 3 years old. Never cleaned. It smells horrid and the soft bits are falling off.

    Sweat is drying up and forming yellowish, white powder on the straps. It's thoroughly disgusting.

    I. Just. Don't. Care.

  10. I was really nervous that GCN would run out of video ideas and start producing low quality content. Glad they're still putting out videos like this!

  11. I prefer to use an old toothbrush with soap for cleaning all the nooks and crannies of my helmet.. it gets in there quite nicely. then try rinse and leave to dry at a well ventilated place. simple and quick enough.

  12. I try to clean my helmet at least every other year.
    It must have been hard to keep a straight face while shooting the shower scene.

  13. It bears repeating, if it's already been posted, but NEVER put exposed velcro "hooks" into the wash. Exposed velcro and the wash agitation will SHRED/SNAG certain fabric types (depending on the weave).

    Velcro is/are fabric hooks specifically designed to do just that, so put them in a small, zippered, mesh laundry wash bag, THEN throw them in the washer.

  14. You guys should give out some Swag to those who sometimes inspire your video's. Thanks for the information, when I asked, I was just expecting a one liner, not a 4min long answer riddled with innuendoes 🙂 keep up the good work guys, big thumbs up from me!

  15. Hey GCN folk,
    I'm wondering if you or anyone here could shed some light on a Kask question that has gone unanswered.
    I emailed Kask a couple weeks ago, yet to hear from them :/.
    The question being: Is 'eco leather', the material of the chin-strap, synthetic?

  16. I'm really surprised that Si managed to keep a straight face throughout this video. If this had been Matt's video presentation we would have had 6 hours of laughter & innuendo outtakes whilst Dan would've demanded a multi camera shower scene with slow motion. well done si – keeping it pro

  17. I love this channel. For one, you all seem to be awesome guys. And I love watching your videos like this because I often find things that I've never thought of, like washing your helmet for example. I love watching GCN and I learn a lot. Keep them coming, boys!

  18. I use the following homemade formula on the shell: half rubbing alcohol, half water, 1 big drop of dish soap. I use this in a spray bottle. 

    This formula also works on sunglasses.

  19. I put the shower on really hot prior to getting in and pull the pads and hose them. If you do this from the start of acquiring a new one then generally it'll be ok. I know that sweat makes the polystyrene brittle from experience, meaning it'll break easier. I had a car turn suddenly left on me' once I spun and crashed the helmet did help BUT due to wear of the polystyrene the plastic outta shell flexed and the inner polystyrene broke – effectively and I got a lump where it had poked thru. So keep an eye on the upkeep and condition, replace if in doubt.

  20. hey GCN why dont you do a video on how to grab a mussette like a pro or how to get dressed on the bike like a pro! cheers mates

  21. it makes me sad that you dont see the GCN boys in the comments section below anymore. Dan was always good for some banter 🙁

  22. Another unwritten cycling rule – never buy a purple helmet. Any colour other than purple. No one needs to see your purple helmeted head when you ride.

  23. can some one help me with my bike problem?
    so when I pedal and stand up at the same time my CHAIN or some thing happens and my CHAIN skips and my pedals are cranking… what do I do that's the only way I can go to school and its embarrassing and when I ride I feel scared that it might break omg what do I do!!

  24. How to store your bike at home, like a Pro. All the GCN riders seam to park their bikes in the most ridiculous places.

  25. I use the same shampoo on my motorcycle and bicycle helmets that I use on my hair, usually in the shower. Everything smells the same and if it's safe for your head then it should be no problem for your helmet.

  26. I stuck my helmet pads into the washing machine a month ago and they came apart. I needed to order new pads. Just hand wash IMO.

  27. You should see mine LOL five years old if not more never cleaned. The strap is so dirty it feels uncomfortable against the skin. The pads are so dirty it makes my scalp itchy. I think it's time to clean mine

  28. God dam it! I wouldn't have bought a 155 pounds giro synthe if i knew i would need another in three years I heard it was a new one every decade…

  29. It's really annoying, I'm 5"3 and I'm 13 and I can't find any tight fit jerseys out there that fits me any suggestions?

  30. Love the videos, have taught me a lot. one question though, on my front wheel there is a reflector that is rattling, and it is rather annoying whilst cycling along, so how do i silence it? Thanks

  31. Motorex make a great Helmet cleaning foam. Just put your Lid in the sink, spray it, leave for 5 Minuten and then Rinse off with warm water. Even takes the dirt out of the straps. And if you're going to put your pads in the Washing Maschine…. put them in a separate wash bag …. not like Simon 😉

  32. How's about a day in the life of a GCN presenter. A sort of look behind the scenes thing. Maybe meet the people who make this show possible.. Just an idea. Also keep the good work up. on the best bike show ever :)….

  33. Hi GCN I always put my helmet pads in a sock when I throw it the washing machine to keep that softness #cyclinghack

  34. i just wear my helmet with the rest of my kit in the shower after a ride. It comes in handy if i happen to slip while showering. :X

  35. Yes! Finally, a how-to video on washing the entire helmet! I've always wanted this because I only know how to and dare wash the pads. I don't dare to wash my helmet because I don't know what I should do (also to avoid screwing things up).

    Tom Last, does this apply to any helmet compound? I know Kask uses high-quality EPS (expanded polystyrene) if I'm not mistaken whereas my Prowell helmet is made out of EPU (expanded polyurethane).

  36. you spoke about helmet pad cleaning in the washing machine…I have a good tip: most cycling shirts do also have a zipped poket…if you put your helmet pads in there you won't loose them in the washing machine… 😉

  37. Hi gcn. I have a kask protone and i have a problem with the leather chin strap, it smells bad. I tried washing it with dish detergent and hanged to dry for a day and still the smell won't come off.

    What do you do to clean your leather chin strap? How do you dry it?

  38. The vast majority of dishsoap is petrol based, like every big name brand is petrolium based. But he said to use dish soap, so is it ok or no?

  39. You get little mesh bags you can stick your padding into. A washing machine will happily eat small pads. If it does, look into draining the machine and checking your filter, assuming it has one.

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