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How to Clean Your Bike Helmet: Complete Guide

The weather’s nice again, and you have some free time for one of those bike rides you enjoy so much.  While you are getting ready, you wonder, “Why haven’t I done this in so long?” Then you get to your bike helmet and remember why. So now you are stuck between wearing a dirty helmet, not wearing one, or not going for a ride, and none of those options are good. Lucky for you, we have a fourth option: going for a safe bike ride with an odor-free helmet because all you have to do is clean it.

Why You Should Clean Your Bike Helmet

Given the fact that you use your bike helmet for outdoor physical activity, it is bound to get dirty.  If you do not properly take care of your bike helmet, it can get smelly and infested with bacteria and fungus from the sweat on your head and cause problems for you during and after your rides.  By cleaning it regularly, you are also able to inspect for any damage and replace it if needed.

How Often Should You Clean Your Bike Helmet?

How often you should clean your bike helmet really depends on how often you use it.  Besides, different parts of the helmet require different cleaning schedules.  A good rule of thumb is to deep clean your bike helmet every three months and do some light maintenance every once in a while.

How to Clean a Bike Helmet

As you already know, different parts of the bike helmet are made of different materials, and each requires proper cleaning occasionally. The three main components of a bike helmet are the outer shell, the inside pads, and the straps. While the helmet’s outer shell is easy to detect and clean when dirty, many don’t know how to go about cleaning the helmet straps and pads.  And that’s why we’re here!

How to clean bike helmet straps

Though a small part of a bike helmet, the straps shouldn’t be neglected as they can get filthy. This is because they touch your skin and soak up any sweat when you are using the helmet. Fortunately, The process of cleaning bike helmet straps is not rocket science. You need to simply dunk the straps in water, add some mild dish soap and scrub away.  After properly working the soap in, you thoroughly rinse it with water and leave it to dry.

How to clean bike helmet pads

The bike helmet pads are located inside your helmet where the sweat and oils from your head are, meaning they need a thorough cleaning. Simply remove the pads from the helmet and decide if you want to apply the same technique as with the traps: hand wash with water and mild soap, or use the low cycle of your washing machine to wash them. After properly cleaning them, wait for them to dry before inserting them into the helmet.

How to Get Rid of the Odor

If your bike helmet has developed an awful odor and you are worried about getting rid of it on the first try, you can use a few tricks when cleaning it. To get rid of the foul odor on your bike helmet, you can:

Leave it soaking in soapy water


Get a bucket of water and some mild dish soap, and soak your helmet in there for a few minutes. The soapy water will get rid of most of the dirt and odor for you.  After soaking, you need to properly clean each part of the helmet, paying attention to the parts that need a deeper cleaning.

Use white vinegar


If you fear the mild soap won’t be enough to combat the odor your bike helmet has developed over time, you can use white vinegar as reinforcement.  White vinegar contains acetic acid, which immediately dissolves dirt and grime while also removing the smell. 

Protect your helmet from sweat

It seems that in any given scenario, prevention is better than treatment.  The same philosophy goes with cleaning a bike helmet: by protecting it from sweat, you won’t need to clean it so often, and it will not develop any unpleasant odor. To prevent sweating under your helmet, you need to wear light clothes when you go cycling, so you don’t sweat overall. However, that won’t be enough to protect your bike helmet from sweat, so another great option is to wear a bandana or cycling cap, which will absorb sweat and won’t let it get to the helmet.  All you need to do after is wash your cap, and the helmet will stay clean.

Tips on Cleaning Your Bike Helmet

While it may seem easy enough to do, cleaning your bike helmet requires some care and attention. This is because, in the end, you will want a fresh-smelling and still functional bike helmet. The process of cleaning your bike helmet is easy enough, but there are things you should avoid to protect your helmet, such as:

Don’t use the washing machine

Even though the low cycle of a washing machine can be used to clean the helmet pads (check the manufacturer’s notes to make sure), you can’t just pop the whole thing in the washing machine as it will damage the shell.

Don’t keep the helmet in the water for too long

Similarly, keeping the helmet soaked in the water for too long will cause the materials on it to deteriorate faster, rendering the bike helmet useless after a short while.

Don’t use harsh cleaning materials


Lastly, while the helmet is made for protection, it doesn’t mean it is indestructible.  Using harsh chemicals to clean the bike helmet will damage it, which in turn will compromise your safety when wearing it.


If you have let a dirty bike helmet keep you from being active and going on bike rides, it is time you do something about it. Cleaning your bike helmet is such an easy task that you will never have to wear a dirty helmet again!


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