clean washed bicycle helmet drying

How To Clean A Bike Helmet?

No one wants to wear a dirty helmet. If you don’t wash your bike helmet, it will not only smell bad, but bacteria will also form. In extreme cases, mold can also develop and make the helmet unsightly.

In this article, we’ll look at how to clean a bike helmet properly so you can prevent the above from happening. Not only will we show you how to clean the helmet, but we’ll also tell you what not to do. So, here we go!

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How To Clean Your Bike Helmet?

Many think cleaning your summer or winter bike helmet is a chore. The truth is that it can be difficult if you don’t follow the proper methods. That’s why in this section, we’ll explain how to properly wash your bike helmet.

To do this, you first must remove some parts of the helmet. This way, it’ll be cleaned thoroughly and will also dry faster.

We’ll now explain how to properly clean the individual parts of the helmet:

  • helmet shell
  • helmet pads
  • helmet strap

How to Wash the Shell of a Bike Helmet?

This is the easiest part of the helmet to clean. Here you’ll learn how to thoroughly clean the shell of a bicycle helmet:

Step 1: Preparation

The first thing you need to do is remove any external accessories that you use with the helmet. By this, we mean lights, camera mounts, or headsets.

You’ll also need a few things to ensure a thorough cleaning. The main things essential for washing bike helmets are baby shampoo and car wax.

As far as baby shampoo goes, we recommend the classic Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. You can never go wrong with this product, and an 800 ml bottle will last you more than a year.

To apply the wax coating, you can use Turtle Wax T-374KTR.

Step 2: Washing

Rinse the helmet and apply Johnson’s Baby Shampoo when appropriate. Lather up the helmet so you can properly remove dirt. Look for dirt in the vents.

You can usually clean the helmet shell with a brush. If that doesn’t work, you can blow it out with an air compressor.

Step 3: Finishing

If washing the helmet isn’t enough, you must give it the final touch. In this case, you use the wax to apply a protective layer on the shell. This will also make washing easier and more effective in the future.

If the helmet is shiny, you can apply some detailing spray to maintain and enhance the shine.

Related reading: What To Wear Under Bike Helmet?

How To Wash Bike Helmet Pads?

The pads of your bike helmet get sweatier with each use, so a thorough cleaning is essential. Here’s a simple way to clean them properly.

Step 1: Preparation

First, soak the pads in a soapy water solution. You can also use the shampoo we mentioned earlier. If your bike has cheek pads, you can wash them together with the helmet pads. So prepare the solution and soak the pads in it for some time. This will help dissolve the salt and dirt the pads have absorbed.

We recommend an antimicrobial detergent for the solution. You’re on the safe side with a regular bottle of Lysol Laundry Sanitizer. These disinfectants help eradicate bacteria and fungus and prevent future buildup. It also gets rid of any odor.

Step 2: Washing

These pads are remarkably delicate and can be permanently damaged by rough washing. That’s why you need to squeeze them gently. Gently squeezing helps to maintain the size and shape of the pad.

After massaging the pads gently but thoroughly for a few minutes, rinse them with soap. Be careful not to leave any residue, as this can damage the pads over time.

Step 3: Drying

This is relatively easy. Just hang the pads in a room under a fan. Make sure the pads aren’t in the sun or heat. And don’t try an air dryer, as it can shrink the size of the pads.

How To Clean The Straps of Bicycle Helmets?

Last but not least, you need to clean the straps of your helmet. Here’s an overview of the whole process so you can do it step by step.

Step 1: Remove the Straps

Start by removing the straps. If you follow this guide, you were supposed to remove the straps at the very beginning. Now would be a good time if you haven’t done so yet.

Step 2: Brush Off the Dust and Salt

There may be a lot of dust and salt stuck to the straps. The sweat residue on the straps forms salt deposits. Therefore, brushing off the straps with a regular toothbrush is best. And if you don’t brush them off, the salt will just get soaked deeper in the matrial when straps are submerged in water.

Step 3: Clean them with soap and water

Start by cleaning the straps with warm water. After some time, you can soap them with a mild soap or shampoo. Then brush them gently to remove dirt from the straps.

If there are places you can’t reach with a toothbrush, such as the areas under the buckles, you can clean them thoroughly with a cotton swab.

When satisfied with the cleaning, rinse the straps with water to remove the soap thoroughly.

Step 4: Finishing Up

You don’t want your helmet straps damp when riding your bike. That’s why we recommend drying them properly. Just like with the pads, you shouldn’t dry them with heat. Keep them in a well-ventilated place. They should be dry within 5-6 hours.

Once completely dry, you can attach them to your helmet and be ready for the next ride.

The Simple (Not As Effective) Way To Clean A Bike Helmet

We understand if the above process is too much for you. Not everyone can afford to spend an hour every day cleaning their bike helmet. That’s why we recommend that you perform the process described above only once a week.

However, this isn’t the right way for you if you want to keep your bike helmet clean every time you ride. In this case, we recommend you to take a shower with your helmet.

This procedure works like a charm. You can also use regular soap and shampoos without any problem, as they’re usually gentle enough for the helmet.

Please note that this isn’t a deep cleaning of the helmet, nor is it the thorough treatment mentioned above. However, for regular use, the cleaning is sufficient. And if you clean it regularly, you’ll prevent dust and sweat from building up.

What Should You Not Do When Cleaning Your Bike Helmet?

There are strict guidelines for cleaning a bike helmet because there are a lot of things that can damage it.

Here are some things you shouldn’t do when cleaning your bike helmet:

  • First, never use harsh solvents or cleaners. These can dissolve the paint, stickers, and gum on your helmet. Over time, using harsh chemicals will render your helmet useless because it’ll weaken it from the inside out.
  • Secondly, you shouldn’t put the helmet in the dishwasher, microwave, dryer or washing machine. This can have serious consequences such as fire hazard or even explosion.
  • Stop cleaning it immediately if you suspect a lice infestation in the helmet. Just put the helmet in an airtight plastic bag and leave it for two weeks. During this time, the lice will die off, and then you can clean and use it without any problems.

Can You Wash Bike Helmet In Dishwasher?

No, you can’t wash bike helmets in the dishwasher. A single wash won’t damage the helmet enough for you to notice, but additional washes will.

One of the main reasons for this is that bike helmets don’t react well to dishwasher heating coils. In the first wash, you may not notice a difference. After a few more washes, you’ll notice the labels disappear. And gradually the foam of the inner helmet pads will dissolve and the adhesives and tapes will start to come off.

With more washes, the surface materials and colors will degrade. Eventually, the buckles and stabilizers will oxidize and become covered in a white film.

So, if the helmet remains in direct contact with the heating coil, it may even catch fire. The helmet isn’t particularly flammable, but a fire in the dishwasher can have serious consequences. Therefore, we strongly advise against washing bicycle helmets in dishwashers.

Can You Wash Bike Helmet In Washing Machine?

No, you can’t wash the bike helmet in the washing machine because that would damage both. A washing machine works mainly by moving the laundry in a circular pattern. Centrifugal force causes the items to bump against the washing machine drum walls during the process.

When a helmet is placed in the machine, it can dent the walls of the washing machine drum and the helmet itself. We therefore advise against washing a bicycle helmet in the washing machine.

How Do You Remove Fungus From Bike Helmet?

If you notice mold in your bike helmet, you can be sure that the main reason is dirty helmet pads. These pads regularly come into contact with your sweat and dust from the environment. Once they accumulate, they lead to bacterial development, which slowly leads to fungal growth.

Fortunately, the problem is relatively easy to solve. If you discover fungus on your bike helmet, take off the pads and clean them with disinfectants like Lysol. It’s important that you soak the pads in a solution of water and the disinfectant for some time to get better results. Also, lukewarm water works better against fungi than cold water.

So, prevention is better than cure. So, if you want to prevent the development of fungus in the first place, we recommend the following DIY method.

All you need is baking soda. Just take some baking soda and sprinkle it inside the helmet. We recommend soaking the helmet with baking soda for at least 24 hours. But you can also do it for 12 hours.

After that, brush the baking soda out of the helmet and clean it with a dry cloth. You can also use a vacuum cleaner for a thorough cleaning. This way you can effectively reduce the risk of fungus reappearance.

How Often Should You Clean Your Cycling Helmet?

To maintain the quality of the helmet and your cycling experience, we recommend washing your bike helmet at least once a month.

Many cyclists don’t wash their helmets at all. However, this is the wrong practice and we don’t recommend it. Cleaning your bike helmet has several benefits, all of which are very beneficial.

However, it’s understandable if you find cleaning tedious and don’t want to do it weekly or monthly. In this case, we recommend you shower after riding with your helmet on.

You don’t have to do this every time, but by washing your helmet after every two or three rides, your helmet will remain in pristine condition. It’ll also prevent the development of fungus and bacteria.

Related reading: How To Get Bike Grease Out Of Clothes?


We hope that our comprehensive guide on how to clean a bike helmet has answered all the questions you’ve been asking yourself.

For a thorough cleaning, you should disassemble the helmet and clean each part individually by carefully following the instructions in this guide.

Opt for the simpler method we’ve discussed if you want quick results.

Thank you for reading this article to the end! We really appreciate your patience. Stay safe and keep your helmets clean!

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