Summer is here and with it comes the heat. For those of you that bike or climb, this most likely means you wear a sweaty helmet almost every day. Regardless the type, it’s a good idea to wash your helmet once in a while to keep the nasties at bay and your climbing or riding partners happy.
Over the past couple of months as I started ramping up the miles and hours spent on the bike, I noticed I was starting to breakout heavily around the jaw line. Only recently did it dawn on me that this was probably caused by my helmet straps and not some crazy adult-onset hormonal freakout. Bacteria build up from sweat and sunscreen combined with constant rubbing can cause breakouts not dissimilar to saddle sores.
To combat this problem, I started following a strict helmet washing routine, which can apply to almost any type of outdoor helmet.
- After every ride, I wipe down the helmet straps and pads using Petal Power Clean Start Wipes that are soaked in bioactive plant extracts with natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties. You could also use something like Clearasil wipes, Action Wipes, Purell, or some people have suggested spraying your straps with a mixture of 1/2 water – 1/2 rubbing alcohol to kill any bacteria. I tried the alcohol route first–it just ended up bleeding the color on my Smith Forefront helmet so now I am back to using wipes.
- Once every week or so, I simply bring my helmet in the shower with me. Using my face soap or even shampoo, I scrub the pads and straps, rinse, then let the helmet air dry. If you don’t want to look crazy bringing your helmet in the shower, you could do the same thing in a sink with warm water and some mild detergent.
What Not to do:
- Don’t put your helmet in the washing machine. However, if your helmet pads are removable, you can throw these in the washing machine–preferably in a wash bag.
- Don’t use abrasive chemicals that could deteriorate or damage the foam in any way. After all, this is the only thing protecting your brains.
- Don’t leave your helmet in the sun to dry, place it in the dryer, or on a heater–all of these could degrade or warp the material. A simple air dry is sufficient.
And finally, if your helmet is really gunky, think about replacing it since it is probably time anyway.
Anyone have other helmet washing tips?