How to Clean a Cycling Helmet

Riders fall off speeding bikes all the time. And nothing much happens if they’d helmeted up properly. Every cyclist deserves a certified bike helmet. But if your helmet’s dripping with sweat and stinks like neglect, you won’t want to wear it that much. As a bike rider, you should learn how to clean a cycling helmet as well as deodorize it if it’s smelly.

As you clean your bike and cleats, it’s a good idea to clean your cycling shoes along with your brain bucket. I put together this helmet cleaning guide to give you tips for quickly getting your lid clean, fresh, and shiny. Also read: How to Make Your Cycling Shoes Last Longer.

What You Need to Clean Your Bike Helmet


2. A mild dish soap (stay away from harsh cleaning products)/bike helmet cleaner/deodorizer

3.A clean soft cloth/microfiber/sponge

4.A dry clean towel (for drying the helmet)

5.A toothbrush (for cleaning hard-to-reach nooks and crannies)

Steps to Follow When Cleaning a Cycling Helmet

Cleaning a bike helmet is quite easy regardless of whether the helmet is smelly or not. Pretty much everything you need to get your lid clean and shining in no time is readily available.

A proper helmet clean involves paying attention to the exterior, the interior, pads, and the chinstraps. It’s all too easy to forget taking care of the straps, so remember to clean the straps as well.

Follow the steps below and you’ll how clean your brain bucket looks after the clean and how much it glistens.

Step 1: Put Water into a Bucket Or Use a Sink

Fill a clean bucket with clean cold water. Then, add enough soap. Avoid using harsh cleaning products when cleaning your lid.

That’s because these super-strong soaps can and do weaken the structure of the materials used to construct helmets.  Instead, use a PH-neutral dish soap for the job.

Alternatively, plug your kitchen sink at the bottom and fill it with enough cold water. Then, add some dish soap and you’re all set for the task ahead.

Step 2: Remove the Pads and Clean Them

You may or may not remove your helmet’s pads when cleaning it. If it’s been a while since the last clean, I recommend that you detach the pads and clean them separately.

Now, how do you clean your bike helmet’s cheek pads? If you’ve been riding a ton through super hot days, I bet your pads carry loads of sweat salts. They’re in contact with a section of your head, and biking heads can sweat a storm when it’s sweltering outside.

The best way to clean your helmet’s fit pads plus comfort pads is hand washing. So, peel the pads off the helmet. Then, take a piece of soft cloth and start rubbing the pads with soapy water. That should be enough to get the pads clean and fresh quickly.

Alternatively, toss your pads in the washing machine and choose a low cycle, such as 30 degrees. I suggest that you hand-wash your pads instead of machine-washing them. Why? It’s because all the mechanical agitation inside that innocent-looking home appliance can’t be good for your pads.

Using a Helmet Cleaner to Clean and Deodorize Your Lid

You may opt to use a helmet-specific cleaner to clean and freshen your bike helmet. With a cleaner, you won’t need water.

Most helmet cleaners come in an easy-to-use spray bottle. To clean your helmet with a cleaner, find a well-ventilated area at home. You could also do the job outside because there’s more ventilation outside than you’d ever need.

If the cleaning area doesn’t have adequate ventilation, you’ll likely experience dizziness and headache. Plus those highly concentrated vapors from the spray can might cause irritation to your eyes.

One more thing: Do Not use a helmet cleaner near any source of heat such as flames or sparks. According to, you shouldn’t use a helmet cleaner in temperatures over 49 degree Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

How to Use a Helmet Cleaner and Deodorizer

So, spray a coat of your helmet cleaner/deodorizer on both the interior and exterior surfaces of your lid. When this cleaner comes into contact with the helmet’s surface, it foams. Wait for one minute and then wipe off the foam along with the dirt and grime off your helmet. Use a clean towel to wipe down your helmet.

One reason I prefer a helmet cleaner is that it does a great job of masking funky helmet smells. I recommend the Progold Helmet Cleaner and Deodorizer. In my opinion, the Progold Helmet Cleaner and Deodorizer is a better cleaner than a deodorizer. Note: some users of this product have complained that it produces a strong chemical smell that lingers for days.

If you’ve been pushing your riding limits and your helmet stinks to high heavens, use Progold’s best alternative. The Bennett Engineering Helmet Fresh is arguably the best helmet deodorizer on the market today. This is a helmet-focused smell remover and works really well.

James Bennett, a motorcycle racer, had a chemist develop this product in 1993. Bennett created this deodorizer because he couldn’t find anything that could freshen his smelly racing helmet.

Step 3: Clean Your Bike’s Chinstraps

It’s easy to neglect the chinstraps when cleaning a helmet. But if there’s one part of a helmet that needs focused attention, it’s the straps. During long hard summer rides, you sweat profusely. And streams of that sweat end up in the chinstraps. If you look at your straps close after a long ride on a hot day, I bet you’ll spot some white salt marks.

The best way to clean a bike helmet’s chinstraps is to scrub them using a toothbrush. So, soap up your straps. Next, start scrubbing off all those salt grits, dirt, and whatnot with the toothbrush. Once you’re done, give the straps a good rinse and you’re done.

Step 4: Clean the Helmet’s Interior and Exterior

Use a damp microfiber, sponge, or soft cloth to rub dirt off the helmet’s interiors. Then, proceed to clean the exterior. Using a towel or microfiber to wipe dirt off a helmet’s interior and exterior surfaces works great for round-shaped helmets.

You can also submerge your helmet in soapy water and clean it, especially if the pads are non-removable. Or if the helmet is extremely dirty.

However, things can get a tad challenging if you’re cleaning a cycling helmet with multiple air vents. So, How do you clean off the dirt between a bike helmet’s many ridges or grooves? It’s easy; use a toothbrush. Put a toothbrush in there and scrub off all the filth lodged there.

Finally, rinse your helmet properly and dry it, ready for storage.

Step 5: Dry and Store Your Cycling Helmet

Once you’re done cleaning your cycling helmet, you can wipe it dry using a clean dry towel or even paper towels. Then, dry the lid in the sun.

Note that direct sunlight can damage some helmets. If it looks like your helmet looses some of its shine each time you leave it to dry in direct sunlight, air it out indoors instead.

Once your helmet is dry, put it in a well-padded helmet bag and store it away. You can also hang your clean helmet on helmet storage hooks. A helmet bay or helmet storage box is another place to keep your lid when you’re not using it.

Alternatively, put the lid in a helmet storage cabinet.

Some bike riders store their helmet on their bike. Avoid hanging your lid from the handlebars, though. That’s because your lid might drop to the floor or ground and crack or something.

Cleaning a Bike Helmet FAQs

Here’s answers to a couple questions you may have. If you have any questions you think I should have answered but didn’t, let me know in the comments below.

Are Helmets Washable?

Certain parts of a helmet are washable while others are not. If your helmet features a removable comfort liner and cheek pads, you can take them out and machine wash them. Make sure to select a delicate cycle when machine washing your cheek pads and comfort pads.

As for your helmet’s exterior, use a piece of soft microfiber or cloth to wipe dust and dirt off. Dip the cloth in mild or diluted detergent before wiping down the helmet.

How Do You Clean a Smelly Bike Helmet?

Cleaning a stinky bike helmet is pretty easy. All you have to do is use a substance that can kill the bacteria that’s spewing out the horrible odor. One of the best treatments for smelly helmets is using mild or diluted Lysol or Pine Sol on your helmet. Diluted Lysol is great at killing smell-producing bacteria and also a good grease and stain remover.

Here’s another little trick for freshening a funky bike helmet. If you can’t remove the cheek pads and liners, dunk your brain helmet into some container filled with water. The water should be mixed with Dawn detergent.

While this smell-tackling strategy isn’t 100% effective, it substantially reduces odors. Finally, dry your bike helmet out and that’s it. You can dry out your helmet in the sun. But if it’s not sunny outside, you can certainly air the lid out indoors, but you can’t expect it to dry as fast.

Alternatively, use a helmet-specific deodorizer to combat helmet smells. One of the best helmet deodorizers you can use is the Bennett Engineering Helmet Fresh. It masks odors pretty well.

Can You Wash a Helmet with Water?

You can give removable components such as pads and liners a good hand wash. But the test of the rest

How Do You Clean a Non-removable Helmet Liner?

How Can I Make My Helmet Shine?

Applying spray polish or spray wax is one of the easiest ways to make your helmet shine. Spray wax is the exact same product car owners use to wax their ride after cleaning it. And there’s no reason you can’t use this product to give your bike helmet a nice shine. Aside from making your brain bucket glisten, spray wax also helps remove dust.

Final Thoughts on Cleaning a Bike Helmet

Cleaning a bike helmet isn’t anywhere near rocket science. You neither need technical know-how nor special tools to take your cycling helmet to a place of pure cleanliness and hygiene.

I bet you learned a few tips you didn’t know until you bumped into this helmet cleaning guide. Whether you’re looking to clean a MTB helmet or a road bike helmet, this guide is all you need (hopefully).

Now, what’s next? Give that helmet some tender care and make sure it stays in tip top condition at all times. Most importantly, make sure to cover that brain with the helmet every time the urge to see your surroundings nudges.

Also, be sure to put on the rest of the biking gear you need to enjoy complete peace-of-mind while riding. Wear knee pads, elbow pads, and wristguards. You never know when the next fall off your shiny bike happens and….