As a cyclist, you know that your gear is an investment that needs looking after to ensure longevity and performance. What you might not know, is that proper care of your cycling kit involves a little more than tossing it into the washing machine after each wear. It’s actually a process that should begin the minute you get in from day out biking. But wait, before you balk at the idea of adding yet another task to your to-do list that will take up your time and eventually become just another thing to stress about, have a look at our guide to proper kit care. You’ll find a collection of tried and tested tips that will save not only time and energy, but your cycle clothing too. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be enjoying gear that keeps its ‘just bought’ condition for longer.
When it’s not possible to get your kit into a washing machine right after a ride, hang it somewhere to air. On a clothesline, over a chair, a hanger on the door frame… the point is to get your cycling clothes drying out as soon as you remove them. This will prevent any nasty smells from settling in to the fabric, after which it’s virtually impossible to get them out.
Mountain bike clothing grimy and muddy from an intense off-road session should be pre-rinsed before washing. Take a hose to your gear or bring it into the shower with you to rinse off the worst of the dirt before throwing it into the washing machine.
Check the labels on new garments and follow the wash and dry instructions as given by the manufacturer. All pockets should be empty, and ties should be tied – zippers up, buttons done. These separate parts will last longer, and won’t snag on fabric if they are all closed up before a wash. Turning your kit inside out ensures the bit that makes contact with your skin gets a good cleaning, while also protecting delicate parts of the outer fabric, like printed details and reflective accents. Be sure to wash Velcro items on their own to prevent damage to other garments.
Choosing the setting for Delicates on your washing machine is a good way to guarantee your clothes don’t take too much of a beating, and cold water is best if you’re unsure about the temperature. Most manufacturers include temp settings on their labels though, so remember to check those. Additives is your enemy when it comes to detergent. Steer clear from softeners, bleach, and all that hocus pocus promising to transform your clothing. The only transformation that will occur is when your kit’s water resistance is stripped and the fabric’s breathability destroyed. Gentle is always best.
Air-drying is always the best choice because it doesn’t do unnecessary damage to your cycling gear, and the sun acts as a natural disinfectant as well. If the weather isn’t playing along, you can hang your kit on a clothing rack inside. Only tumble dry if the label says it’s safe to do so.
You might not be able to put some items, like your helmet, into the washing machine. But bad smells are caused by bacteria and if they are not dealt with, odors can ingrain themselves in fabrics and become virtually impossible to remove. Find a good spray cleaner that will refresh and disinfect to eliminate odors. Unlike the rest of your clothing, gloves and shoes don’t have to be washed after every ride. Spray cleaners will also work here to freshen up shoes and cycling gloves in between washes. A good tip for drying out wet shoes quickly, is to stuff them with newspaper. This absorbs extra moisture but also helps the shoes retain their shape.
The point to good maintenance of your cycling kit is to make it perform the way it was designed to, for longer. Features like water resistance, breathability, and UV protection are all there to enhance your riding experience. And so caring for your kit is less about looking good, than having optimal comfort and performance on every ride. In order to decrease the amount of time you spend in front of your washing machine, we advise investing in more than one set of cycle clothes so you are able to go a few days between washes, and always have a fresh kit to wear.