How to Clean Your Bike Helmet Straps

If you’re an avid cyclist, you likely spend a lot of time maintaining your bike, but what about your helmet? Taking proper care of your helmet not only prolongs its life and makes it more pleasant to wear, but it can also protect your health and safety as well.

We do a lot of sweating when we’re on our bikes, which creates a need to clean the helmet from time to time. The straps are the part of the helmet that probably soaks up the most sweat. They get salty and a bit stinky as a result.

A pair of young cyclists in helmets, sweating profusely
When you sweat as you ride, your strap gets the worst of it.

You’ll feel a lot better putting on your helmet after you give those straps a good cleaning. Here’s how.

How to clean bike helmet straps, step by step

1. Remove straps

If possible, remove the straps from the helmet. If this is your first time doing so, pay attention to how to get them back on. If you can’t separate the straps from the helmet, remove the helmet pads to prevent them from getting wet as you clean.

2. Brush off salt

Clean any salt on the straps before getting them wet. A toothbrush is a great tool for this job. The salt is from dried sweat (you’re working hard while riding, after all!). If you wet the straps before removing the salt, it will only soak in rather than rinse off.

3. Brush with soap and water

Run the straps under warm water. Once they’re saturated, apply mild soap (laundry detergent for sensitive skin is best, but you can also use your face wash) to the toothbrush and gently brush the straps.

4. Clean crevices

Use a Q-tip or cotton swab to get into hard-to-reach places, such as underneath the buckles.

5. Rinse

Rinse thoroughly—really thoroughly. Leftover dried soap may irritate your skin or even pose a danger by creeping into your eyes during your next ride.

6. Dry

Allow to dry completely by leaving the straps in a well-ventilated space. Even slightly damp straps could chafe your ears, neck and chin on the next ride. Preferably, hang them up to dry so the straps don’t stay wet too long.

7. Reattach to helmet

Before reattaching the straps to the helmet, make sure they’re thoroughly dry and free from any odors. If they’re still a little stinky, repeat Steps 2 through 6.

A few more strap-cleaning pointers

The most important thing to remember when learning how to clean bike helmet straps is that everything you use on the straps will eventually make its way to the sensitive skin on your face. No matter how thoroughly you rinse, some residue will be left behind. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that anything you use on your straps is safe for your face as well.

No matter how dirty the straps appear (or smell), don’t scrub hard, as this will damage the fabric and could lead to rips. Finally, don’t put the straps in your washer or dryer.

Regular helmet maintenance

Bike helmets don’t last forever. It’s important to service your helmet regularly since it could save your life in an accident. Talk to the staff at a local bike shop or to another avid cyclist for more tips and tricks.

Image at top: © Glory Cycles | Creative Commons

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