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Dangers of Cycling are not Always on the Road

If your kit looks like this,

Or smells like this


Laundering Your Kit

The dangers of cycling are not always on the road but on your back. Your kit/jersey/shorts are a great breading ground of bacteria. There are as many ways to clean your cycling clothes as there are tablets in a large bottle of aspirin. Each kit or individual piece of cycling clothes you buy comes with its own instructions for cleaning written on the tag on the back side of the collar. You might want to read that before doing anything. Take a few extra precautions, your kit can last a long time. Here are some tried and true tips.

WASHING There are a few choices here. Some riders like to wash their kits exclusively by hand claiming it’s easier on the fabric therefore making it last longer. But a washing machine works well too.

WASHING MACHINE TIPS Some riders prefer to throw their kit in the washing machine, use these tips to keep from ruining your expensive cycling clothes

  • Zip up zippers and secure Velcro. An unzipped jersey or the Velcro on your overshoes or gloves can destroy the Lycra on your other cycling clothing in the washing machine. Zip up zippers and secure Velcro.

  • Turn your jerseys and bib shorts inside out to protect logos and graphics.

  • Wash your cycling gear separately. Washing with regular clothes, like a heavy pair of jeans or a jacket, along with cycling gear may ruin a light, delicate cycling kit.

  • Use a mild detergent and avoid fabric softeners.

  • Choose the delicate cycle on the washing machine and use a cold-water setting.

  • Use the extra rinse cycle, if available, to help remove any soap residue that can clog the fibers of technical clothing.

  • Bonus: Place your bib shorts and jerseys inside a dedicated laundry bag (or lingerie bag) to prevent the straps of the bib shorts from wrapping around the spindle and stretching out.

DRYING AFTER WASHING More choices hereClothing can be air dried outside or on a drying rack or use a dryer. There are proponents of each method. When using a dryer choose a low temperature setting or a no heat air fluff.

A quick word about oil & grease stains. Sooner or later this will happen. If caught in the rain, the “stripe” up your back is largely from grease & oil that’s deposited on the road by cars. A good, almost foolproof way to get the stain out is to spray it until the spot is soaked with full strength Simple Green.” Let it sit for a minute or two, then toss it in the washer.

One last important thing...Don’t forget gloves, skull cap, sweat bands, etc. Those items can get foul and stinky really fast.

Cleaning Your Helmet

Okay, your kits are clean but when you put your helmet on it smells like a pile of dirty socks in a locker room!

This is easy. See those soft foam pads inside your helmet? They are held in there by Velcro. Just peel them off by hand, put them in a saucepan filled with warm or hot water. This is easy to do in the kitchen sink. Use Dawn or any liquid dish detergent, swish them around a bit, let them sit in there for a few minutes. Take them out of the pan, wring them out and let then air dry.

But wait! There’s more. What about the straps? Fill the saucepan with HOT water and dish detergent. Set the helmet on the pan and let the straps dangle in the soapy water. Use a brush like a nail brush, scrub the straps, wipe with a paper towel and you’re finished.

Cleaning Your Water Bottles

The bottle itself is no problem. Bottles can go in the dishwasher on the top rack. It does a better job than washing them by hand. The lids are more likely to harbor mold and germs.

There are a few types of lids. One you pull up to open it, and the other type is like a nozzle.

  • Get some hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). It’s very inexpensive. Fill a bowl or jar with it, then put the lid(s) in and let them soak for a half hour.

  • Then take a clean toothbrush and scrub all the inside and outside of the lids. The pull up lids are easiest to clean.

  • Fill the bottle 3⁄4 of the way up with hydrogen peroxide, put the lid on, shake it up, then squirt the H2Othrough the nozzle. Use hot soapy water as well. The Camelback bottles have lids that look like this:


The soft nylon spout on a Camelback comes off with a firm pull making it easy to clean. Use the same method as with the pull up. A toothbrush will fit inside the nozzle. Rinse it with water and you’re finished. Do not use bleach. It’s a very harsh chemical and there’s a good chance you’ll never get the smell out of your bottle.

One last thought for anyone who is getting bored staying at home or simply wanting a dedicated machine for bike clothes. Take a look at this bicycle powered washing machine.


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Silver Wheels Cycling Club is a 501 C(7) non-profit organization. P.O.Box 242 Vermilion, Oh 44089

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