by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com
This is the time of year where the days are long, hot and the sweat begins to pour into your bike gear. While we spend a lot of time focusing on bicycle clothing like shorts, jerseys and gloves, we sometimes overlook how to keep them clean. They absorb our sweat, act as an impromptu tissue and sometimes clean grease and dirt off our bikes. While your gear is still soaked with sweat, let’s review some great tips for cleaning those articles in your bike bag.
Most cycling apparel is made of synthetic material that can be machine washed. The only time where very special care needs to be taken is with your gloves if they use natural leather palms. For the most part though, it’s a good idea to review the manufacturers recommendation before you wash any cycling gear.
Why does bike gear and clothing need to be cared for differently
Cycling clothing and gloves use fabrics woven specifically to quickly move perspiration off you. Additionally, these materials are designed to glide and stretch comfortably over your body while riding. So to keep these synthetic materials in the clothing clean, special care needs to be taken so the material breaths properly.
When washed incorrectly, cycling clothing won’t preform properly. The fabric that should move moisture off your body may become clogged. So rather than moving moisture away it will trap it against your body making your gear wet and sticky. Also, washing synthetic fabrics in the wrong conditions can make what was once a soft and flexible material rough and brittle.
Tips to wash bike gear
Keep it cool. Try to avoid excess heat when washing and drying your cycling clothing. In my experience, heat from washing and especially drying can transform soft materials into feeling harsh.
Use a perfume and dye free detergent. There are several types of detergents on the market that will clean your gear. For the best results look for a product like Tide (free & gentle). This product will not clog the moisture wicking properties and will neutralize the bacteria that creates odor.
Cycling clothes use delicate materials that can be damaged easily. To avoid damage, zip up zippers on your jackets, jerseys and tights, and close Velcro on gloves and shorts. Additionally, if you are machine washing, be sure to run the delicate cycle as to avoid harsh agitation. For the same reasons, resist the urge to throw your gear in the dryer, hang them to dry instead.
Cleaning on the go
On trips when you don’t have access to washing machines, There’s no need to just endure dirty and smelly clothes. I find it easy to clean cycling clothes while showering after a long day. Use a dime size drop of detergent and scrub your gear, then rinse it with fresh water. Because cycling gear dries so fast, you can just hang it up and it should be dry and clean for the next day’s adventure.
It’s no secret that cycling gear is expensive, but, with a little effort it can work well for a long time. Beyond avoiding crashes, the best thing to do for your gear is wash it properly.