Your motorcycle helmet does the important job of keeping your brain intact in case of impact, which is why you wear it during every ride. With so much time spent on the road, it’s bound to get grimy—not to mention covered in a layer of bug guts. While the nasty stuff on the outside looks gross, the sweat and grime on the inside not only smells gross but can cause the pieces like the EPS or foam padding to break down over time. Therefore, after a few sweaty rides, it’s a good idea to clean your most essential piece of motorcycle safety gear. However, there are some chemicals and materials that can damage this expensive piece of motorcycle safety gear. To help you identify what’s useful and what’s harmful, here’s a step-by-step guide to washing your helmet in the safest and most efficient way possible.
Several clean micro fiber cloths
baby shampoo/mild dish soap/Motorex Helmet Care/Liquid Perfomance Matte Finish/Motul Helmet Clean
To avoid water damage, you should remove all electronic accessories from your helmet, including:
- Bluetooth Communication devices
You may also be able to remove certain pieces, such as the faceshield and inner liner, which can be easier to wash separately. In some cases the liner cannot be removed. This shouldn’t be a problem, as there’s a method to clean even non-removable padding.
You can make your job a lot easier by first loosening any caked-on dirt and grime. To do this, lay a damp microfiber towel or paper towels over the helmet. Make sure you only use warm water and don’t scrub—you don’t want to leave any scratches on the exterior. For now, let the wet cloth rest on the helmet while you move on to step three.
Wash the Accessories
Cleaning the faceshield is quite simple. Wipe away any grime with a microfiber towel and warm water. For stubborn spots, you can use the same draping method used on the exterior, allowing the warmth and dampness to loosen trouble spots.
If you were able to remove the inner liner, you’ll want to either wash it by hand or on the delicate cycle in your washing machine. When washing by hand, use a gentle, non-petroleum based soap. Baby shampoo or mild dish soap is highly recommended. Soak the padding in a contained with some soap and then squeeze the water and dirt out. Repeat the process multiple times using clean water in the container each time until the water remains clear after squeezing the water out of the padding When using a washing machine, opt for a mild laundry detergent.
Motorex makes a product called Helmet Care which is a foaming spray that is extremely easy to use and works great on the internal padding. You simply shake the can, spray it onto the ear pads, and head pad then let the foam penetrate and do its job while you focus on cleaning other parts of the helmet.
After a few minutes of letting the Helmet Care do its magic you can use a paper towel to gently squeal the pads and pick up the foam. Just like soaking in dish soap and rinsing, it may take a couple times of spraying, waiting, and wiping away the foam until all your pads are clean. You’ll know when it’s done with the paper towel comes away clean after removing the foam.
Once you have the liner clean (or as clean as you can get it), leave it to air dry, preferably overnight. If necessary, you can use a regular fan to help with the drying process, but it’s important to avoid exposing your liner to heat such as a clothes or hair dryer. Heat may lead to cracking and other structural compromises in your liner. One thing you‘ll notice with the Motorex Helmet Cleaner is that it leave your padding with a nice fresh scent.
Wash the Unremovable Liner
If you’re unable to remove your helmet’s liner, you’ll need to set up a tub or basin inside your shower. From there, fill the tub with warm water and your choice of either mild laundry detergent, baby shampoo, or dish soap. Let it soak for a few minutes, then start scrubbing.
You’ll want to only use your hands—no hard-bristled brushes or rough washcloths. Simply work the liner with your fingers, rubbing at any grime that remains. While you’re working on the liner, you can also clean the shell in the same manner.
Once you’re satisfied, remove the helmet from the tub and rinse it in the shower. You’ll want to work the liner with your fingers during this stage as well to make sure you get all the suds out. To dry, pat with a towel—no intense wiping or you may damage the lining or shell.
Wash the Exterior
Once your helmet has spent a few minutes resting, remove the wet towel(s) and then gently wipe the shell with a new clean, damp cloth. Warm water alone will usually suffice, but you can use shampoo or other gentle soaps that are not petroleum based. If you come across any stubborn spots, ditch the cloth and opt for a sponge or use your finger nail to rub at the offending area.
Motul offers its Helmet Care which works great on cleaning the outside of a motorcycle helmet and leaves a nice shine. Simply spray the product onto a soft cloth and begin wiping down the helmet. Us a little elbow grease on stubborn areas. While they may look cool, helmets with a matte finish are some of the hardest to keep clean and looking good. If your motorcycle helmet has a matte finish pick up some Liquid Performance Matte Finish Cleaner, this stuff works great!
Once you have the exterior clean you can use a light wax or polish that won’t damage the exterior of the helmet. Bel-Ray’s Silicon Detailer and Protectant Spray is a good option because it’s safe for a variety of surfaces and will leave a nice barrier on the helmet that should make it easier to clean next time.
Clean the Vents
Due to the small spaces, you may have trouble thoroughly cleaning the vents. If so, you can use a cotton swab or a towel wrapped around something like a key to swipe inside. For stubborn clogs, you can also use an air compressor as long as your drop the pressure way down--too harsh could damage components—to blow the material out. It’s important that you use an air compressor and not an aerosol can for this purpose, as the chemicals from an aerosol can be destructive to certain materials.
After everything is cleaned, gently wipe excess water from the shell and accessories. Wait for everything to air dry, then reassemble your helmet. When you’re done, it should look and smell as good as new.
Bonus tip, want to reduce your cleaning time and intervals? Before you slip that helmet over your head pull on a head wrap, bandana, or balaclava, to act as a barrier between your head and the liner. The material will help absorb some of the sweat and grime.
Cleaning your helmet regularly can keep it in good shape for years, especially if it’s a quality product. However, materials deteriorate over time, no matter how much care you take with them. Because of this, you should get a new helmet at least every five years, though you may need one sooner if your current helmet has taken substantial structural damage. When the time comes to find a replacement, Chaparral Motorsports is here to offer the highest quality motorcycle helmets to protect your noggin. For more information, call us at 1-800-841-2960 visit us online to see our wide selection of the best brands in the business.