How to Clean a Mountain Bike Helmet

How to Clean a Mountain Bike Helmet

No one wants a dirty helmet, right? Dirt is unsightly and smells offensive, more so when infected with bacteria or fungus. While cleaning your mountain bike helmet seems like common sense, it isn’t, to some extent.  There are some things you need to observe and avoid to keep your helmet in good condition before, during, and after cleaning it. 

So, how do you clean your mountain bike helmet? This is a detailed guide.

The Basic Steps

Three key areas require cleaning in your mountain bike helmet. These are the shell, inner padding and lining, and straps. These sections require different handling when washing as follows: 

  • The Shell – Quick Wash 

Get some lukewarm water in a bucket. Soak a sponge in the water and use it to wipe the surface of the shell. A quick wash works best when you want to get rid of mud off the surface. It will get your helmet shiny again, in readiness for your next ride. You may also use a washing rug and a polish rug instead of a sponge to clean and wipe the shell.

However, be careful with the choice of cleaning products you add to the water. As a guide, any cleaning detergent with a mild PH equivalent to a dishwashing soap is best. Avoid harsh petroleum or solvent-based cleaning products that may compromise or damage the integrity of the helmet. You also want to keep the shell stain-free to retain its luster.

  • The Pads & Inner Lining – Detach & Deep Clean

Padding and liners help your helmet fit correctly, keep you comfortable, and wicks away moisture. In turn, they will accumulate hair products, sweat, and dust over time. Consequently, the helmet interior could start producing a foul smell.  For this, we recommend deep cleaning the pads every 3 to 4 months to get them hygienic again. 

Is the Padding Removable?

First, confirm if your helmet uses detachable padding or not. If so, we recommend first detaching the padding and lining from the shell. To remove the padding, gently pull on the Velcro or adhesive to loosen them up. Then, pull them out, ensuring you do not tear them. 

Now, hand washing the padding in a baby shampoo solution for half an hour is probably the easiest way to get them sparkling clean. Here, you soak the pads in the mild soap solution, remove grime using your fingers, and then rinse and dry them under the sun.  

Still, you may gather the pads and liners into a helmet bag or a pillowcase. Then, add them to the washing machine with the rest of your cycling kit. Set your washing machine on a low cycle of about 30 degrees.

Washing Permanent Padding & Lining

Where the padding and lining are permanent, dip the entire helmet in a bucket with a mild soap solution. Let it soak for up to 20 minutes. Next, use your fingers to remove any grime. Rinse the helmet with clean water. Dry it under the sun. 

  • The Straps

The helmet straps sit next to your skin. They accumulate oil and sweat and can get quite smelly and unsightly. At times, when cycling on an extended summer trek, you may see white salt lines on the straps.  For this reason, never ignore them when washing your helmet.

To clean the straps, start by wetting them. An easy way to do this is by jet-washing the straps while holding them flat on the floor.  This approach forces out all the dirt trapped in between the seams and folds. Then, apply some mild cleaning detergent. Work on the straps using your fingers or sponge and rinse off the detergent using a bucket of cold water. 

The above steps will keep your helmet clean and smelling fresh at all times.

When Should You Clean Your Mountain Bike Helmet

When Should You Clean Your Mountain Bike Helmet?

Note that the shell, pads, and straps get dirty at different times and intensities. Hence, you seldom clean the entire helmet after every ride. Certainly, thoroughly clean the soiled sections and gently wipe the less dirty areas. 

For example, if you wear a cap underneath your helmet during winter, it will absorb most sweat, keeping the pads dry and fresh for longer. Here, you only need to concentrate on the shell or straps, scrubbing off mud and grime. You can also wash your cap in the washing machine with the rest of your riding gear.

 Likewise, when riding your bike in the summer heat, the inner pads and straps absorb sweat and moisture. At this time, concentrate on the inner sections and straps and only apply a gentle wipe to the shell. 

During the rainy season, you may need to clean your helmet inside-out more often since, the shell gets splashed with muddy water while your straps and inner padding absorb sweat as you race up a challenging trail.

Cleaning Hacks You Should Know

  • Most helmet manufacturers add a cleaning guide in the user manual. Such instructions are specific to your helmet. Ensure you follow this guide before trying out any other cleaning procedures. 

  • Is your helmet covered in thick mud? Use a hose to spray it with water. It will loosen the dirt fast. 

  • Did you know that getting into the shower with your helmet on is an excellent way to give it a quick wash? Use the bath to rinse dirt off the shell and straps while blocking water from accessing the inner sections. Besides, the toilet soaps you use are likely to be gentle enough on your helmet too.

  • Always detach and clean helmet accessories separately. This way, you get rid of any dirt trapped underneath the screws or holes. These accessories include the visor, chin bars, lights, and fitting systems. 

  • After cleaning your helmet, use car wax or any good polishing agent to make it shine as new. However, never polish your helmet if it has a matte finish. 

  • Use a deodorizing spray to keep your helmet smelling fresh. 

  • Even if your helmet looks and smells clean even after using it for some time, it is advisable to deep clean it at least once a month or quick wash it once a week. 

  • Do you struggle with fog on your helmet screen? Or, do your riding glasses or goggles collect dirt quite easily? Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe the glass after cleaning your helmet. It gets rid of the fogginess and grime without leaving scratch marks on the lenses. If your lenses have stubborn stains, detach them from the goggle frames. Then clean them in a dishwasher.

  • There is a lot of plastic in a helmet. From the buckles, the helmet cover, to the lining. When cycling in warm or tropical conditions, be cautious about using Deet anywhere near your head or neck. Deet dissolves plastic. It will degrade your helmet fast.

Maintaining Your Clean Helmet 

Proper maintenance of your helmet guarantees that it will be in good working condition whenever you need to use it. Here are some tips to achieve this.

  • Wear your helmet the right way to keep it firm on your head. It will prevent it from falling or hindering your view when cycling. 

  • Always store your helmet away from direct sunlight and high temperatures. So never leave your helmet in the boot of your car where the temperatures can soar on a hot sunny day. These two factors can degrade the structure of your helmet. 

  • No matter how well you look after your helmet, it does have a natural shelf life. Plan to replace your helmet as per the manufacturer’s recommendations (usually after three years) or when you get involved in a collision. Also, inspect your helmet from time to time, checking for any signs of wear and tear.

People Also Ask

How Do You Clean the Inside of a Bicycle Helmet

People Also Ask

  • How Do You Clean the Inside of a Bicycle Helmet?

The inside of a bicycle helmet has protective linings and comfortable padding that gather dirt. Confirm if these sections are removable. If so, follow our steps for cleaning the padding and lining as explained above. However, be careful not to tear the lining adhesives or Velcro. Be extra gentle with the EPS liner. The liner works by absorbing force upon impact. Hence, it becomes useless when hit unnecessarily.

  • Can We Wash Bike Helmet?

Yes. Wash your mountain bike helmet depending on how you use it. A deep cleansing once a month is adequate for moderately clean helmets. Otherwise, clean the shell, padding, lining, and straps as per the amount of dirt. 


The helmet is the single most crucial gear that any mountain bike rider can own. It protects you from serious head injuries in the event of a crash. It also insulates you from the weather elements. Apart from fitting you correctly, look after it, ensuring it is in tip-top shape at all times. Remember, dirt degrades your helmet and can make you lose friends. So, don’t let your helmet be a dirtbag. Instead, use our simple cleaning tips to keep it sparkling, functional, and scratch-free at all times.

2 thoughts on “How to Clean a Mountain Bike Helmet”

  1. My son is a bike rider. It is like a passion to him because he does it daily. I have to buy a new bike almost every year. But his bike helmet is always dirty. I have to teach him how to clean his bike helmet using these tips. It is really great. Thanks much.

    • Hi, Gad, and thank you.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Great to hear about your benefit of the article too.

      I thought that you would have enjoyed this post with your comment in mind. It is a review about good mountain bike helmets on Amazon.

      Don’t hesitate to contact me to help you with anything else or if you have any questions.


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