Keeping your helmet clean is not only ensuring you look presentable, but it can also help you spot signs of damage and prevent any accidents (if your visor becomes too dirty to see through clearly).
There are a lot of cleaning solutions out on the market that help remove stubborn dirt in half the time, but if you’re not a fan, you don’t need a lot of gadgets or trendy equipment to clean your helmet, just good old fashioned soapy water and a cloth. Here we explain what you need and how to achieve the perfect looking lid.
What you need
Being prepared is half the battle; so get your kit together beforehand, and it’ll help you stay organised and make sure you do a proper job. You will need:
- Warm (mild) soapy water
- Cleaning solution (if you aren’t a fan of mild soap)
- Microfibre cloths
- Soft toothbrush
- Cotton buds
- Kitchen towels
Things to avoid
Like your head, your helmet is a sensitive piece of kit, so any harsh chemicals or abrasives are going to wreck it. Do not use any cleaners with bleach or other chemicals, usually found under your kitchen sink, you’ll end up reducing the life of your lid and potentially weakening the exterior.
Also, do not use any scouring pads or sponges that can scratch the surface of your helmet. Stick to microfibre cloths which trap dirt particles deep within, rather than on their surfaces.
If you prefer to use a specific helmet cleaning solution, make sure you read the instructions carefully. Some cleaners carry warnings for some regions of the helmet, especially if your visor has anti-fog treatments.
Prep your helmet
Not all helmets have internal electronics but if you’ve installed a comms system or other audio device, make sure you remove these before you start applying water.
If your helmet is an adventure style lid with a removable peak or your have any removable vent filters (like the Shark Race R), now would be a good time to strip these. That way, you can get into all the nooks and crannies for a thorough job.
Now you’ve got your kit together, and know what to avoid, the first thing you should do is clean the outside shell. Using a microfibre cloth dipped in your warm water solution, gently clean the helmet to rid it of dirt build-up.
Stubborn dried on flies or other road debris can be softened if you apply a piece of wet kitchen towel over the top for a good 5 minutes. Then, wipe off.
Keeping your vents clean will help the airflow through your lid and prevent your helmet fogging up. It also helps regulate the air temperature and keeps your cool when the temperature rises. Using a soft toothbrush can dislodge any dirt that may have gotten trapped or, you can use a cotton bud dipped in your soapy water for more precise lifting action.
Checking for damage
While you’re cleaning your lid, it’s a good time to check for any damage. Thermoplastic shells are harder to check than fibre ones, but if you notice any indentations or softer parts, this could be a sign of internal damage. With fibre helmets, they are more likely to crack on the surface, which makes them easier to spot.
Removing the visor makes sure you get to all the hard to reach places and can prevent any unnecessary damage. A lot of visors these days are quick release but if you’re unsure how to remove yours, make sure you read your helmet’s manual before you start pulling on bits that might not reattach. If you have a Pinlock or other anti-fog lenses, remove this now.
Using the same method as before, take a microfibre cloth and gently clean your visor (not anti-fog component). It is safe to clean the whole visor but make sure you don’t use any chemicals. They can cause damage to your visor and severely decrease your view.
Rinse your visor under a warm running tap to remove all traces of dirt and soap and leave to air dry. This step is essential to ensure you get a streak-free finish and avoid removing any coatings. If you’re not a fan of air-drying, you could always use a clean, dry microfibre cloth and gently rub in a circular motion to avoid streaks.
You can clean your Pinlock in the same way you would your helmet’s visor. Make sure you are extremely careful around the silicone edging. This is the part which prevents air from reaching your visor and prevents condensation. Repeat the above drying process, being careful to avoid scratches or streaks.
Once you’ve given the outside a good clean, you’ll need to clean the inside. If you don’t clean the inside of your helmet, the sweat, dirt and other products you may have on your hair end up inside the lining and can cause a right stink.
If you’re lucky enough to have a removable, washable lining, you can unclip it by locating the plastic poppers or magnetic clips. If you’re worried about breaking anything, check your helmet’s manual to make sure where you should pull. Removable liners can be popped into your washing machine on a low heat setting (delicates or hand wash cycles) which reduces the chance of damage to the foam. Once cleaned, air dry rather than placing on a radiator or in the tumble dryer. Even on low heat settings, it can damage the foam.
If you don’t trust your washing machine not to eat the plastic clips or fear you might put it on the wrong wash cycle, you can hand wash linings by using a simple warm soapy water solution. Baby shampoo is quite good as it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals (smells pretty good too!)
If your lining isn’t removable, you can sponge wash it with warm soapy water. Once you’ve given it a good wash, leave it to air dry. It can take around 48 – 72 hours to properly dry out but do make sure it is thoroughly dry before using your helmet again.
Internal sun visors
Sun visors are notorious for scratching, so be incredibly careful when you perform this part. It’s best to use warm soapy water with a microfibre cloth and then leave to air dry. You don’t need to apply much pressure here, this way you’ll avoid any damage.
Once you’ve cleaned and dried all areas of your helmet, reattach all its components and make sure they fit correctly. After that, you’re ready to hit the roads again!