I saw a post on a popular FB boards asking how often you should wash your kits. There was quite a bit of humorous and gross responses (including my own vomiting emoji), but it got me thinking. Haven’t we all been there when we started? “I only rode for 20 minutes, this bib/jersey/skinsuit is still fine for tomorrow’s ride.” As a beginner, we all have things like that to learn.
Now (hopefully) we all know to wash your kit after every ride. What about all the other stuff you wear? Shoes, gloves, helmet and arm warmers? What about bottles and elbow pads for tri bikes? Heck – how often should you wash you bike??? (I won’t get into that….mostly because I am horrible at it and get yelled at by mechanics on a regular basis for not taking good care of my bike. But enough about me….)
So, the low hanging fruit: water bottles. WASH THEM AFTER EVERY RIDE!!!!! I have a friend that only owns 4 bottles and rinses them out after every ride but never washes them. The fuzzy stuff I’ve seen around the valve makes me want to never ride behind him again!! Bottles are cheap, you can get them a most events if you don’t want to spend the money. Get enough that you can wash a set after every ride or have 3 rides worth of bottles before you have to wash some dishes.
Warmers, vests, booties, gloves and stuff like that – well, that’s a little more challenging. After every ride that starts to be a lot of stuff to wash every time you use it, even more so if you only have 1 pair. However, then you forget to wash stuff and then next thing you know your gloves are wiggling away on their own accord from all the funk growing in them. Either one needs to accumulate a closet full of clothing (N+1 but for gear? I like that!) or make sure to wash all these things with your other gear once a week (maybe before that rest day, so extra time to dry). A tip on washing gloves – always wash them with the Velcro CLOSED so that the Velcro doesn’t stick to your kits and ruin them! Also keep in mind – even if you only use some of this stuff in the winter when you “don’t sweat” – you do still sweat (as well as wipe snot, get road dirt, rain, mud and all types of other yucky stuff on them). Booties are probably the one thing you can not stress about – technically they never touch your body! Still – wash them once in a while so they last longer!!
What about helmets?? I know personally it is time to wash my helmet when the stinky helmet pad sweat makes me gag on a ride as it drips down my face. How does one wash a cycling helmet? Well, don’t put it in the washing machine – that won’t do so well. The pads (which soak up that nasty sweat) are removable – so take them out and wash them by hand with some gentle soap. Just hang them to dry – no dryer!!! After they are dry, reinstall and you are good to go. Don’t put them through the wash with your kit because they will stick to your lycra and cause damage to your kit (plus, they may not stick back to your helmet at the Velcro points).
Lastly, what about shoes – what to do there? I just wipe off the outside with a damp towel to keep my kicks looking fresh. Otherwise, I let them air out between rides but have never “washed” a pair of cycling shoes (unless riding in the rain counts?) If you have ideas on washing shoes, let me know!
So, make sure to keep all the things you ride with clean, just to make sure you are always on top of your game!!
PRO TIP: If it’s just not coming clean (the fuzzy stuff isn’t leaving the bottle) or the funky smell won’t leave your gear, it’s time to replace it. No matter how much your spent on it, stuff won’t last forever.
PRO TIP 2: Sometimes you need to soak your gear for longer or scrub out things or wash them twice. I find after riding in the rain, some stuff needs a double washing to get all the grime away. And bibs should be turned inside out to make sure the chamois gets clean.
LAST PRO TIP: to freshen up your body after a workout or event and you have some car time, try our BYOT to freshen up for the drive home.