Squeaky Clean Kit

How to wash your kit

It’s not just your bike that needs cleaning, performance sportswear designer and tester Julie Greengrass talks kit cleaning nitty gritty…

Some like it hot

The problem with washing your cycling kit is that it can’t cope with the 60-degree temperatures that you really need to kill deeply ingrained, smelly bacteria. Although you ignore manufacturer’s washing instructions at your own risk, most kit can cope with a 40-degree wash, even Gore-Tex. But you will still need a biological detergent with enzymes to tackle the bacteria.


Jackets and softshells with waterproof membrane technologies and taped seams are more tricky, many specifying cooler washes. Some membranes can also trap detergent, which in turn lets in water – dirt can act in the same way. An extra, cold rinse is essential and if the jacket no longer beads up in the wet, try re-proofing it – Nikwax and Grangers both make treatments.

Wash the washer

Often the reason for stubbornly smelly kit is the washing machine itself. Running a high heat service wash with the machine empty about once a month will help. Also, use liquid detergent put directly in with the load, not a powder and not in the drawer. Don’t use fabric softeners or bleach either. To protect delicates, put them in a pillowcase and hang them out to drip dry, without a fast spin.

Washing smalls

Close Velcro closures, especially on gloves – those little plastic hooks will damage the rest of your kit. For stubborn stains like chain oil or grimy collars and cuffs, apply liquid detergent directly to the areas before washing normally. Helmets can get forgotten – take the pads out and put them in a mesh bag or a closable jersey pocket and wash as usual. Clean the helmet itself in warm soapy water.

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