Rub-a-dub-dub, give your helmet a (gentle) scrub

aug_article3A clean helmet is a happy helmet. Not only will it smell better, but it will also last longer. Although they may seem tough, a helmet’s materials can be easily damaged. Hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics can all contribute to helmet degradation.

Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, using the mildest soap recommended and a soft towel. (Old fashioned cloth baby diapers or a micro-fiber towel both work well.)


Exterior (helmet shell & face shield)

  • Keep in mind that helmets may be made out of a wide variety of materials, so what worked for your last helmet might damage your new brain bucket.
  • Never use any cleaners or polishes with ammonia, solvents or petroleum-based chemicals, especially on visors and polycarbonate helmets. Your helmet may absorb these substances, causing premature deterioration.
  • Abrasives are a no-no too. If there are dried bug guts or other debris stuck on your helmet or shield, you’ll need to soften them up. Place a clean, wet cloth soaked in warm water over your helmet and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then just gently wipe them away.
  • Keeping your helmet’s shield clean is important because dirt or bugs can obstruct your view. Normally, mild soap and warm water with a soft cloth will do the job. If it gets scratched, replace it.


  • Remove the liner and gently wash it by hand in cool water, using a mild soap. Some people like to use baby shampoo. In the event there is any residue left, it won’t burn when sweat drips in your eyes.
  • If your liner is not removable, you can spot clean it with a damp cloth infused with mild cleaner, or soak the whole thing in a tub with a gentle soap.
  • Be sure to rinse extremely well, and allow to air dry. Never use a hairdryer or other heat source as it may melt the material.

Nothing lasts forever

Even with meticulous care, the everyday wear and tear will eventually add up. Manufacturers recommend replacing a helmet about every five years. But if you notice that your helmet has become loose before then, consider buying new cheek pads or other inserts. Remember, an ill-fitting helmet won’t protect you in a collision.



Helmet Care 101” by Charles Everitt, Motorcyclist Online, July 2006.

2 comments on “Rub-a-dub-dub, give your helmet a (gentle) scrub

  1. I wear a “Silk” over my head. And inside the modular helmet. This makes it much easier to keep the interier clean. Wash it once or twice a month. Dries quickly. Previously washing the liner wore it out, and was more difficult. ….Jim

  2. Silks, do-rags, and skull caps are all great to wear under your helmet. I’ve even heard of bikers wearing welder’s caps and pilot’s caps. That being said, washing the helmet’s liner before it’s stored for the winter is always a good idea. Bacteria can cause the foam to break down.

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