We all know bicycle helmets make cycling more comfortable, safe, and refreshing. But do you know it can make your cycling miserable and harsh if the helmet is not clean? 

Due to regular exposure to sun, rain, dust, and pollution, bicycle helmets get dirty. As a result, it causes discomfort, and its efficacy is reduced. To get the best out of a bicycle helmet, you need to clean it from time to time. 

However, many may not know how to clean a bicycle helmet properly. For effective cleaning and to bring back the fresh look of the helmet, you need to follow some simple steps. I have presented the best way I personally follow in cleaning my bicycle helmet.

Stay with me, as it will surely help you learn the cleaning procedure of a bicycle helmet:

4 Easy Steps To Clean Bicycle Helmet:

Honestly speaking, cleaning a bicycle helmet is a super easy task. You need some cleaning agents and basic cleaning tools that are most likely there at your home. And the procedure is very simple: you can do it at any time at home. 

Let us start with the practical 4 easy steps to clean a bicycle helmet:

1. Cleaning The Outer Shell:

The outer shell is the part of the helmet that can be seen outside, the exterior. The outer shell is made of hard and sturdy plastic that can either be shiny or matte. The hard outer shell gets dirty easily due to regular dust, pollution, and sun exposure. While dust and pollution settle on the surface, the sun’s rays can discolor the shell. 

If the color is okay and you just need to remove the dirt, use a microfiber cloth to wipe off the outer shell. However, this won’t be enough if the dirt is stubborn and the color has faded due to the sun and pollution exposure. 

For such stubborn dirt and discoloration, you need to wet the microfiber cloth in warm soapy water and wipe off the outer shell with the wet cloth. Soapy water helps cleanse the shell deeply, and warm water helps loosen up the dirt quickly. This mechanism would bring back the shine and glaze easily. 

Remember to use a smooth and soft microfiber cloth on the surface. Normal cloth may leave a scratch on the outer shell, while microfiber cloth gives a flawless finish no matter how hard you rub it on the surface. 

2. Cleaning The Middle Portion:

I prefer cleaning the middle portion once or twice a month, whether it is dirty or not. If it gets heavily filthy, it gets hard to clean it up. Thus regular cleaning makes the task easier. 

The middle part, the interior portion of the helmet, doesn’t catch up with dirt easily as it is not widely exposed. The interior is mainly made of EPS (expanded polystyrene). EPS is the same material that is used to make disposable cups. But the helmet EPS is thicker, compact, and of high quality. 

EPS feels soft on the head and is mainly added to absorb shock and impact during cycling. It is also responsible for protecting your head from injuries. This layer also maximizes breathability as it has perforations to let air pass. 

As mentioned above, the EPS layer is really tough to cleanse. So, you can clean it once or twice a month to avoid further hassle. Use warm water and shampoo to loosen up the dirt, and scrub it with a toothbrush to remove the dirt from the perforations. Go slow and let the dirt come out from the holes and corners. Now rinse it off with normal water. 

3. Cleaning The Inner Pads:

For added protection, safety, and comfort, bicycle helmets have inner foam pads attached to the EPS layer with velcro tabs. These songy foam pads are excellent for absorbing shock or impact, protecting your head from sudden impacts. 

But these spongy pads are also there to soak up sweat and moisture from the head. This helps to keep your head dry and fresh but makes the padding very dirty in just a few days. The padding starts stinking and smelling foul. Dirt and pollution settle very fast in these wet and spongy pads making it very uncomfortable to wear the helmet without cleaning. 

I suggest cleaning the inner pads once a week, especially when it is super easy to wash them. You can put the polyester inner pads in your washing machine with all other clothes, dry them well, and get fresh-smelling inner pads. Yes, it is that simple! 

If you don’t have a washing machine, put the foams in normal soapy water for 15-30 minutes and dry them up to attach them again to the EPS layer. 

Remember to use normal water only, as polyester shrinks in warm water. 

4. Cleaning The Straps:

Unfortunately, many people don’t consider it important to clean the straps. But I feel itchy and filthy with dirty and greasy bicycle helmet straps. It is also unhygienic and unhealthy to have dirty and sweaty helmet straps as they come in contact with your skin. This can cause rashes, allergies, etc. 

Cleaning the strap is not so difficult. You need to clean the strap with warm water and soap or shampoo. I prefer to keep the straps wet in warm water for a few minutes, so the dirt comes out fast. Use shampoo and soap to make the straps smell and clean out all the dirt. If the dirt is stubborn, you need to use a toothbrush to deeply clean the straps. 

Depending on the dirt intensity, you need to clean accordingly. If the dust is minor, you can clean the straps using warm soapy water and a brush. If stubborn, keep the straps in warm soapy water for some minutes (15-20 minutes) and use a brush to get rid of the dust.

Tools That You Need For Cleaning Your Bicycle Helmet:

Here, I make a list of such tools that you need for cleaning your bicycle helmet:

  • Warm Water
  • Cold Water
  • Soap/ Shampoo
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • A Toothbrush 

Can You Clean Bicycle Helmet With Water?

With plain water, you can’t get the expected results. Plain water doesn’t clean out dirt and pollution. You must use at least warm water to clean the straps, outer shell, and EPS layer but don’t use warm water to clean the pads. Pads may get destroyed and shrink if they come in contact with warm water. 

However, for effective cleaning, you need soap or shampoo. Shampoo and soap are mild cleaning agents that can remove the dirt from the straps and inner pads. It also effortlessly cleanses the outer shell and EPS layer. Plain water can’t do this. Only cleaning agents can clean out the dirt on the helmet layers. 

Inner pads should be cleaned with soap or shampoo and normal water. Don’t use warm water, as it would distort the shape of the inner pads. On the other hand, you must use warm water and shampoo to clean out the straps, outer shell, and EPS interior, as they have much stubborn dirt and are very sturdy. It also helps to make the helmet smell better.

Therefore, I suggest you not use plain water as it won’t help to clean the dirt completely and bring back the fragrance. Use mild soap and shampoo to wash off the straps, outer shell, EPS layer, and inner foam pads. Only then can you get a flawless finish and a clean helmet.

How To Make A Bicycle Helmet Shiny? 

Who doesn’t like a shiny helmet outer shell? We all love to see shiny and glossy helmet surfaces. And when it is super easy to get a flawless outer shell, why won’t you make it shine? 

The easiest way to make your helmet’s outer shell shine is to wash it off thoroughly with soapy water, preferably detergent or dishwashing liquid, and rub the surface gently with a microfiber cloth. This would rinse off all the dirt and pollution from the surface, and the wash would cover the minor discoloration.

Your helmet shine will sustain for years if you wash off the surface once or twice a week. Washing a helmet regularly not only keeps the shine on the surface but also makes it last for a long time. The durability increases if you take good care of your bicycle helmet.

You must use a polish like a two-step plastic polishing agent to leave a fine finish on the helmet surface for extra shine. Choose a polish carefully that is compatible with your helmet type. Buy an agent and gently rub it on the surface to get a glossy finish. 

Thus to bring back the shine of your helmet and make it look like a new one, you have to use a mild cleaning agent, warm water, and a microfiber cloth to gently rinse off the dirt and bring back the glaze. For better results, use a polish.

How To Make A Bicycle Helmet Smell Better?

Helmets may frequently stink as cycling involves intense physical activity. The straps and inner pads soak sweat, get filthy, and give off a foul smell. This can cause discomfort, and a stinky helmet doesn’t give a pleasant riding experience.

The only way to clean the helmet and make it smell better is to use warm soapy water or shampoo to rinse off the helmet regularly. The primary areas to clean are the helmet straps and inner padding, as they soak up sweat and release a bad smell. 

Soapy water or shampoo with a refreshing fragrance can make the helmet smell better. Keeping the helmet clean is the main key to making it smell good. You must clean the helmet straps and inner pads once a week, so the foul smell doesn’t stay, and you can get a new ride again in the next week. 

How To Remove Scratches From A Bicycle Helmet Outer Shell? (2 Ways)

Scratches on the helmet surface completely destroy the finish and look of a bicycle helmet. Especially if the helmet has a matte finish, scratches sit stubbornly on the surface. And thus, the whole appearance of the helmet gets ruined. 

However, getting scratched on the helmet is a very general scenario if you don’t use it carefully. Your helmet may get scratched due to an accident, or suddenly a small branch can sweep over the helmet, leaving a bruise. Or, maybe you haven’t kept the helmet upside down on your table, which has caused a minor mark on the surface.

We may not control the factors that cause scratches on the helmet’s outer shell, but we can clean them out. There are 2 basic ways of rinsing off the scratches from the helmet’s outer shell:

1. For Minor Scratches:

Thankfully minor scratches can be removed easily with dishwashing liquid and a sponge or microfiber cloth. For better results, soak the sponge or cloth in warm water and then take a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Make some bubbles by rubbing the sponge on the cloth.

Now gently rub it over the scratch area to remove it. As dishwashing liquids leave a polished look, it helps to quickly remove the scratch and bring back the shine.

2. For Major Scratches:

Large scratches can’t be removed by dishwashing liquids. You need to use a polishing agent like two-step plastic scratch remover polish to remove major bruises. Use a soft microfiber cloth, spread some polish over the scratch and gently scrub the surface with the cloth to see a fine finish. 

However, this agent is not suitable for coated plastic helmets. You need to buy a polishing agent that suits your helmet. Select an agent that suits your helmet, depending on the level of scratch. Scrub gently and get back the glossy helmet outer shell free of scratches or marks. 

How Often Should You Clean Bicycle Helmet?

It is important to clean bicycle helmets from time to time. Many people wash off or clean their bicycle helmets only when they see dirt, scratches, discoloration, or get a foul smell. But to avoid getting hard scratches and pollution on your helmet, you must clean and wash the helmet frequently. 

However, in winter, as the pollution is less outside and the sun is less bright, sweating is lesser too. As all external polluting factors are minimal, your helmet becomes less dirty. Thus cleaning it once a month is more than enough. Wash it thoroughly using soap/ shampoo and water. Rub with a brush if needed.

But in summer and fall, when sweating increases and pollution increases, you must clean the helmet once a week. I suggest cleaning the inner pads twice a week as they soak sweat and can easily get dirty and stinky. The other parts of the helmet, like the outer shell, ESP layer, and straps, should be washed once a week thoroughly using a brush, shampoo/ soap, and warm water. 

Therefore, in winter, clean the helmet once a month. Consider cleaning the helmet once a week for a comfortable and pleasant ride during summer and other hot seasons. 


A clean helmet means a more pleasant and refreshing ride. And now that you know the easy steps of cleaning a bicycle helmet effectively at home using some simple tools, what is stopping you from washing your helmet? 

Wash the helmet, get rid of the dirt and stink, and get ready for a new and soul-cleansing ride.