How To Wash Bike Shorts?

From the beginning of my cycling career, I’ve always understood the importance of a good pair of bike shorts for a comfortable ride. But what often goes overlooked is the crucial task of keeping them clean and well-maintained. I’ve faced the problem myself – shorts losing fit and comfort due to improper washing techniques. It’s a common issue among cyclists, where incorrect washing methods can quickly degrade the material, affecting comfort and performance.

This nagging issue becomes more agitating when considering the delicate nature of bike shorts, especially those with padding. Frequent washes, harsh detergents, or incorrect drying techniques can ruin the aspects that make these shorts essential for cycling. The padding can clump, elasticity can reduce, and the fabric might lose its moisture-wicking properties. This can lead to uncomfortable rides and the need to replace shorts, which isn’t ideal frequently.

However, the solution lies in understanding and implementing the proper washing techniques. In this article, I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on effectively washing bike shorts. Covering everything from handwashing methods to machine wash tips and even specific advice for padded shorts, this guide aims to help you keep your cycling shorts in the best condition. You’ll learn how to clean them properly, ensuring they last longer while maintaining their shape, comfort, and functionality.

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Practical Techniques for Cleaning Your Cycling Shorts

Are you the person who is extra conscious about the longevity of your cycling apparel and hence prefers using the hand wash technique to this date? If not, you must be among those who shrug off this handwashing idea and pace towards the washing machine.

No matter what sort of laundry person you are, we will tell you how to wash your cycling shorts with hand and machine wash.


@benditsenditmendit How to clean your muddy mountain bike shorts. #mountainbike #mtb #mtblife #cleaning #lifehack #pressurewashing #mud #sendit ♬ Hard Work – U.S. Drill Sergeant Field Recordings

Hand Washing Your Cycling Shorts

Many of you must be dedicated followers of this technique. Some might call you old school, but you may prefer hand washing because you care about your clothes and water usage. So, let’s learn how to wash bib shorts using only hands.

Sink Soaking Method

Fill up the sink with cold water and add some mild detergent or soap with no harsh agent, softener, or chlorine in the water. Mix up the elements, and you have just created a soapy solution.

Flip your bicycle shorts inside out and throw them in the solution. Squeeze and massage the bicycle shorts until the water foams up. Now, let the shorts soak for 15 minutes at least. After 15 minutes, let the water drain and rinse your shorts until soap is thoroughly washed out. You can also use any container, bucket, or bowl for your convenience.

Using soapy water is the best way to get rid of bacteria quickly. This is because the soap molecules interact with the cell membrane of bacteria. So you are absolutely sure about the hygiene of your shorts.

Rinsing Shorts with Tap Water

Put the shorts under a running tap, and wait till your shorts are saturated with water. If you are too busy with other things to do a proper washing task, you can squeeze out the excess water and start the drying process.

Or you can put some soap on the shorts and then rinse the soap from the shorts under the running tap. But, again, make sure to rinse until the soap is completely removed from the shorts.

Shower Rinsing

Suppose you have no time to care for your cycle shorts properly. At the same time, you cannot wear them the next day without washing them. It is rather wise to rinse the shorts under a shower in moments like this. Let w

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ater saturate the shorts, and you can squeeze out the soapy water simultaneously.

After finishing the shower, rinse the shorts again using cold water. Furthermore, it is a great time-saving hack to help you many times, plus you can save some water.

Related reading: How To Get Bike Grease Out Of Clothes

Using a Washing Machine for Cycling Shorts

I understand that you do not have all the time to clean your shorts by yourself. Sometimes, you must take the back seat and let technology handle your labor. This is why you have bought that washing machine, right? But while your machine is handling the washing, you can take care of other measures.

Preparatory Steps

No matter how intelligent your machine is, it is still not smart enough to understand why your cyclewear bottoms need extra care while getting washed. So make sure you do the following things before putting the shorts inside the machine-

Read Instruction

The more you learn about the garment, the better you know about taking care of the product. For example, cycling shorts are usually made of lycra or spandex. The material can be sensitive to some detergent components. Learning more about the fabric will help you to know what cleaning agents to use.

Separate from Other Laundry

The essential washing rule will tell you to separate dark-colored clothes from light-colored clothes. We want to remind you of this again. Prevent your shorts from getting shabby after they are washed with other garments.

Flip the Shorts

The inside parts of the shorts are in direct contact with your skin. So it makes more meaning to turn the shorts inside out and put them into washing. Also, cushioning inside the shorts protects your groin from causing you to ache after long rides. So, flipping the shorts will expose the cushions and clean them well. It will also save the graphics and logos from fading.


We bet you will never want your favorite riding shorts damaged by the velcro of your other gear. But, simultaneously, you will want to prevent your unzipped jeans from tearing up the shorts. So take precautions before putting your shorts with other clothes inside the machine.

Wash Bags

Wash bags are not luxurious items. Instead, they are essential for keeping delicate clothes like cycling shorts safe. Otherwise, your expensive shorts can get shredded by other garments or the metal drum of the machine itself. So get a wash bag that has smooth inside and use it to wash delicate clothes like lycra shorts.

Key Tips for Machine Washing

Now that you have taken the precautionary steps, you can launder your cycling shorts using a washing machine. However, a careful user will always take care of a few things.

Cold Water Wash

Heat can deteriorate the lycra and elastic of your shorts. However, you do not need to throw your shorts in lukewarm water. Cold water with mild detergent can remove dirt and debris from your shorts. On the contrary, using hot water will only reduce the longevity of your favorite shorts unless you need to remove grease and stains.

Delicate Setting

If your machine is smart enough to have a delicate setting button, rest assured that your shorts are safe. This setting varies from one brand to another. A delicate setting can be considered equivalent to a hand wash. This setting can drop the water temperature, do two rinse cycles, and spin the clothing at 400 rpm. To be safe, you should cancel the spin cycle and let the bibs air dry.


Detergents with harsh agents can damage the synthetic fibers and elasticity of the shorts. You can use additive-free mild detergents designed for sports clothing, like Original Activewear Detergent or even Sweat X Sport Max Odor Defense Extreme Activewear Detergent, to wash your cycling shorts. Soap solution can also be used if you do not have activewear detergent. However, chlorine and fragrant-free soaps are a better choice here.

Effective Drying Techniques

Most people will agree that air drying your shorts is always better. The heat from the dryer can affect the shorts’ technical fabrics and chamois pads. So rinse the excess water from the clothes and hang them on the drying rack to air dry the piece of clothes. Or, you can place the shorts inside a towel and wring out the water to speed up the drying process.

How Often to Wash Cycling Shorts?

It’s recommended that you wash your cycling shorts after every ride. This is a healthy habit, as using sweaty and dirty cycling shorts can lead to bacteria buildup over time. However, it’s also true that washing takes some toll on the fabric.

So, you have to be careful and follow the recommended instructions. This will keep the clothing fresh for as long as possible.

However, if you use your shorts only for a non-intensive commute, you can use them for a few days without washing them.

How to Wash Bike Shorts with Padding?

You can follow our shared instructions for washing regular cycling shorts when washing your padded shorts. Take the shorts and handwash them with a cleanser. You can also use your shower gel if you don’t have a cleanser made specifically for washing cyclewear.

If you only have a soap bar, don’t use it directly on the shorts. Instead, use it to make cold, soapy water in a tub or a mug. Use that water to wash your shorts afterwards.

Can You Put Cycling Shorts in the Washing Machine?

Yes, you can put cycling shorts in the washing machine. However, you must maintain some things like keeping the spin between 600-800 RPM, setting the wash on gentle, and keeping the temperature under 30 degrees. Remember, the colder the water is, the longer the shorts will last.

Can You Put Bike Shorts in the Dryer?

No, you shouldn’t put your bike shorts in the dryer. Dryers are known for reducing the lifespan of clothing, especially for delicate pieces like sportswear.

If you put your riding shorts in the dryer, you’ll soon find the screen-like prints on the shorts start getting brittle. Printed shorts can lose their color and fade over time. Finally, if there are rubber legs on your shorts, they’ll lose grip over time.

Things to Remember

Now that you know A to Z of washing your cycling shorts, you can wash them whenever you want. However, to take the best care of your shorts, remember a few notes,

  • It is better to wash the shorts after every long ride. The bacteria lingering on the clothes can damage the lycra and feast on the sweat. But anyway, you can wash your shorts after 3-4 rides if you find it troublesome to wash them daily. Just remember to air-dry the shorts after a ride.
  • The chamois of your shorts are not necessarily made of suede leather. Manufacturers today mostly opt for chamois, which are 100% synthetic. So wash them carefully using mild agents.
  • Avoid fabric softener as it coats garments in a stain-blocking subtle film, which can clog up the synthetic fibers of your expensive, delicate shorts.
  • As mentioned earlier, do not use the dryer to dry the shorts. Opt for air drying instead.

Related reading: How To Clean A Bike Helmet?

Can I use fabric softener when washing bike shorts?

No, I advise against using fabric softener when washing bike shorts. From my experience, fabric softeners can damage the elastic fibers in the shorts, reducing their stretch and support over time. Additionally, they can also impair the moisture-wicking properties of the fabric, which are crucial for comfort during long rides.

How can I remove stubborn stains from my bike shorts without damaging them?

For stubborn stains, I recommend pre-treating the area with a mild, cycling-specific detergent before washing. Gently rub the detergent into the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. It’s important to avoid harsh chemicals or vigorous scrubbing, as these can damage the fabric. Then, wash the shorts as usual, following the guidelines for delicate materials.

Is it safe to wash bike shorts with other clothes?

Yes, you can wash bike shorts with other clothes, but with caution. I always wash them with similar colors and avoid mixing with items with zippers, hooks, or rough textures, as these can snag the shorts’ fabric. It’s also wise to use a mesh laundry bag for extra protection.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining my bike shorts in top condition has always been my priority, and I’m sure it is for you, too.

Throughout this article, I’ve shared my insights on the best practices for washing bike shorts, emphasizing the need to preserve their functionality and comfort. From handwashing techniques to the nuances of machine washing, we’ve explored various methods to ensure your cycling gear remains in pristine condition.

We discussed the importance of regular washing, not just for hygiene but also to prolong the lifespan of the shorts. I’ve found that being mindful of the frequency of washes and the type of detergent used can make a significant difference. Furthermore, we touched on the delicate balance of drying techniques, where I emphasized the need to avoid high heat and direct sunlight to protect the fabric’s integrity.

For those of us with padded shorts, the article provided specific guidelines to handle these specialized garments. The padding requires extra care, and I’ve outlined steps to ensure its effectiveness isn’t compromised over time.

I am sure this guide has given you a clearer perspective on washing bike shorts. Proper care extends their lifespan and ensures they continue to provide the support and comfort needed for your rides.



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