Friday Group Ride #412

Friday Group Ride #412

I’m not what you would call a clean freak, but I’m kinda surprised it doesn’t occur to me more often. My helmet is disgusting. All my helmets are disgusting.

I met up with a friend for a trail ride the other morning, and I’d sweated pretty hard, what with being not that young and not that in shape, and being kind of a heavy sweater anyway. I showered at work, hit the desk, and didn’t think about my overall sweatiness again until it was time to pedal home. I put my helmet on. It was still wet. I’d equate the feeling of putting on a sweaty helmet to the sensation of being awoken from a nap by your dog licking your face vigorously.

My general approach to helmet hygiene is, first, to have a lot of helmets. That way I can swap around when my go-to helmet gets sketchy. That’s the lazy way out though. Cleaning has to happen sometimes, too. What I do is fill a large bowl with water, squirt in a little dish soap, and then set the helmet in the bowel for 4-8 hours, swishing it around occasionally. That seems to do the trick, albeit imperfectly.

Every helmet I’ve ever purchased has come with a set of replacement pads that I could, theoretically use after some period of use. I could remove the pads and wash them on their own. But I find they never go back in the way they came out, and that’s a level of organization a man of my limited means can’t quite comprehend.

You should replace your helmet every season or two for safety reasons anyway.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what do you do? How often do you clean your helmet? How often do you buy a replacement? Am I gross? Are you? These are life’s deep, deep questions.

Image: Zion Cycles

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  1. KG

    Dishwasher works great on helmets. I don’t put dishes in there at the same time, but it comes out clean.
    I also take my helmet to the shower with me when I get to work. I put in on the air vent in my office so it is dry on the way home.

  2. AG

    I clean my helmet after three years or whenever I can’t stand putting it on anymore. Which actually means I just buy a new helmet every three years. You are no gross….I am not gross. I prefer to call it “normal”.

    Actually, I always ride with a cap under my helmet. This prevents the sweat from really soaking into the helmet pads and foam and dripping down my head. It is easy to wash a cap. I think it also looks cool. Wear a cap and you can look cool, too.

  3. David Arnold

    The Pro mechanics on Conti and World Tour teams spray or rinse off the riders helmets when they are cleaning the bikes. Just spray them and drip dry or rinse and wipe with a towel. I think the replacement recommendation is every 2 to 3 years and I rinse mine off when ive sweated or ridden hard. Every 2-3 rides. I only have 1 helmet.

  4. Rod

    I rinse my helmet after every sweaty ride. I do it at the same time as I rinse my HR strap.

    When things get dire, I shower/bathe with it.


  5. Michael

    I rinse after any sweaty ride, using a bit of dish soap on the pads, and sometimes on the straps. I don’t rinse my commuter helmet though. It gets washed by the rain if locked with my bike, and I tend to commute during the cool parts of the day anyway, so don’t sweat much. Replacing the helmet – well, any time it takes a decent hit. Otherwise, from what I can tell, the three-year rule is a bit overkill. If it gets a LOT of UV light, I could see where it would affect the strength, but if not, it ought to last a couple more years than that anyway. At least that is what I read on an engineering-geek page on bicycle helmets, and their arguments seem reasonable (and they don’t make extra money by telling you to replace a helmet, as the helmet manufacturers do). I can see that the manufacturers want to void people using damaged helmets, as that could give them a bad reputation.

  6. Neil Winkelmann

    I’m not too sweaty. My helmet doesn’t really become gross. Cleaning consists of wiping the shell down. I replace every 3 years-or-so.

  7. Aar

    I spray down the straps and pads with water every Saturday that I see salt condensed on the straps. That means it gets rinsed more frequently during hotter months. Replace every other year. The only thing that’s gross is a smelly helmet or shoes.

  8. Sbarner

    Having ridden the first 30 years without a helmet, it’s tough to buy into the two or three year replacement cycle. I have three foam hats now, and I rotate them a bit in the summer to let them dry out. I wash them in the sink when I notice they need it, and I check the pads and straps after most rides. I replace a helmet if it’s cracked or has damage. My oldest is a 2004 model. I bought my newest one second hand from a guy who believed the 2-year replacement BS.

    I tell my wife that I’ll ditch the helmet entirely once she dumps me. I think it’s what keeps her around. She knows I’m serious.

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