The helmet is possibly the most important cycling gear to take good care of. It can protect you from serious head injuries if you do get into an accident.
Cleaning your helmet
Who here does not clean your helmet and chucks it aside after a sweaty ride? Word of caution: You might lose some friends. It is important to keep your helmet clean unless you like riding with a dirty, smelly, and bacteria laden helmet. A dirty helmet can also cause your skin and scalp to itch.
You should clean the helmet only with water, mild pH neutral soap (body soap or dishwashing soap etc.) and a soft, clean cloth or sponge. Leave your helmets to air-dry.
DO NOT use any harsh cleaning products such as chemical detergents, solvents, petrol or abrasive powders as they are aggressive and could lower the structural integrity of the helmet. Using these chemicals can interact with the polycarbonate shell and EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam, causing it to harden and become brittle. This rule also applies if you are intending to spray paint your helmet.
There are 3 main parts of the helmet to clean: The shell, inner foam pads, and the strap.
Shell. The shell might be covered in mud and grime that are splashed up from the road. Dunk your helmet in a bucket of cool water and gently scrub it with a sponge.
Inner foam pads. Handwashing is the easiest way to clean them. Throwing them in the washing machine might damage the pads.
Straps. If you do not want to have pimples growing under your chin, then make sure you wash your straps thoroughly after every single ride.
I came across articles which suggested taking a shower while wearing your helmet. Try it by all means… but that is something I wouldn’t do.
Store your helmet away from direct sunlight and high temperatures as the heat will degrade the integrity of the helmet. Most cycling helmets are held together by glue, and extreme heat will cause it to melt. Avoid leaving your helmet in the boot of your car on a hot sunny day.
How long can I use my helmet for?
No matter how much you look after your helmet, it does have a natural shelf life. The protective foam liner can deteriorate in just a few years, meaning it may not provide sufficient protection in an impact. Most helmet manufacturers recommend you to replace your helmet once every 3 years.
Note of caution: Do not use your helmet after an impact. Even if there is only a hairline crack, you should discard the helmet immediately.
Practice these good cleaning and storage habits of keeping your helmet in tip-top condition. Even your sweat can be quite corrosive and will break down the EPS foam over time! So there’s no excuse not to wash your helmet after every ride.
Author: Esther Koh
Cycling is her drug and therapy.
She is a certified Nutritionist (BSc Nutrition, University of Leeds) and loves both road cycling and mountain biking. She hopes that more females in Singapore will discover the joy and simple pleasure of riding a bike.