Your motorcycle helmet is the single most precious piece of equipment you own. A helmet’s job is to preserve your life in an event of a crash, but it does much more. It also protects you from dirt and bugs from flying into your face, your eyes and mouth, and any debris that might find their way toward your visage.
This is why it is so important to upkeep your helmet the proper way. Because if you don’t, the neglect will lead to much greater problems than bad odors. Improper maintenance will lead to structural damage on your helmet that may lead to the said helmet dialing to perform when the need arises for it to do its job. In this light, we have made a guide for you on how to properly take care of your helmet.
We’ll do our best to keep this thing as concise as possible. So enough chit-chat, the juicy goods await below, dig in!
Proper motorcycle helmet maintenance for the long haul
The first thing you must do to prevent damage to your precious helmet is proper and devoted maintenance. This is important because no matter how many times you clean it, you’ll have to make some preventive measure in order for it to remain effective at its job. It is also worth noting that excessive cleaning, especially with aggressive and corrosive chemicals will inexorably lead to damage.
So with that out of the way, here are a few basic yet essential steps to undertake in order to ensure that your helmet is in tip-top shape.
- Always wear a bandana or a skullcap. This is almost paramount, as a bandana or a skullcap is the first line of defense when it comes to protecting your helmet. What these items will do, they will absorb as much sweat and body oils as possible in order to prevent them from getting onto the lining.
- Always try to put automotive wax on the shell. Putting wax on our helmet will greatly assist you with the future cleaning of the helmet. The automotive wax will prevent the amount of dirt that gets on your helmet in great measure. Also not that wax is reserved for gloss helmets.
- Always carry a pack of cleaning wipes. And use them often. Of you wipe off the bugs and dirt right of your helmet immediately, this will prevent the filth to stick and will be easier to get off when washing.
- Never scrub the visor. No matter how tempting it is to remove that bug from it. Scrubbing the visor will most certainly put scratches on it, which, when they accumulate, will reduce your field of vision, and leave murky spots, or leave the entire visor murky. How will you keep your eye on the road then, we ask?
- Air out your helmet, as much as possible. When you’re done and finished with the ride, don’t just stuff your helmet in a bag or on the shelf. If you don’t want odor accumulating, you should definitely leave the helmet for fresh air to come in and for sweat to evaporate. Also, we all know what grows best in a hot and moist environment – bacteria and mold.
- Do not hold your gloves it the helmet. This is, sadly, one of the most common mistakes. Keeping the gloves drenched in sweat will allow that sweat to come into contact with the lining of your helmet, producing odors and reducing the helmet’s lifespan. Also, keeping the gloves in the helmet will give rise to the creatures mentioned in the point above.
- Do not hang your helmet on the mirrors of your bike or any unstable place. This will most likely end with your helmet on the ground, potentially cracking it. If, however, that does occur, bring the helmet to customer support centers. They will fully diagnose the condition of the helmet and determine if it is viable for further use.
- Change the helmet every five years. This isn’t really a preventive measure for the helmet, but it certainly is a preventive measure for your head. No matter how good a condition your helmet is, or how good quality the helmet is, it needs to be changed every five years at least. This will ensure that you have a good helmet on at all times when you’re riding. No matter the helmet, five years of ware and tare will definitively take its toll on the helmet.
Washing the helmet
Washing your helmet is one of the most important (if not the most important) part of helmet maintenance. Keeping your helmet fresh and clean is the best way of prolonging its life span and preventing damage, not to mention the removal of odors. However, if you’re going to clean your helmet, you must do the job properly or you might cause even greater harm to it.
Moreover, there is a difference between cleaning helmets with removable padding and cleaning those with non-removable lining. Although there are great similarities, there are some differences that must be duly noted.
Helmet with removable padding
Helmets with removable padding are much easier to clean than those that have non-removable padding. This is actually why some high-end helmets have removable padding – to assist with cleaning and maintaining the helmet. Removing the pads is easy – however, be watchful when removing them as sometimes they can be tricky to put back on. When cleaning the pads, follow this procedure to ensure the best possible results:
- First, remove the liner and pads. However, as we have mentioned, be careful and look how they are connected to the shell, and remember in order to put them back.
- Wash them in the washing machine, but use a delicate cycle and be sure to use a mild detergent. Do not, under any circumstances use bleach or any other like products – they will surely bring harm upon the padding.
- The pads can be hand-washed. However, when washing them make sure you rinse them thoroughly to wash all the soap from the pads and lining. Be also sure to use mild soap, and soap that does not contain any bleach residue.
- After you will have washed the pads and liner, pat them gently with a soft, dry towel in order to pick up as much moisture, after which you should let the padding dry naturally – you can, alternatively, air dry them, but use a source of lukewarm air, as excessive heat or cold may bring about harm to the liner.
After that, it’s time to wash the shell:
- First things first, remove the visor of the helmet, and do it ever so softly, in order not to break of scratch it. If the visor won’t budge, do not force it because it will snap, but try to find alternative ways of removing it, or contact the customer support for instructions.
- Make a mix of warm water and mild soap. Remember, temperature extremes may cause structural damage to the helmet.
- Soak a soft towel of a microfiber towel and place it over the areas where the bug guts and dirt are stuck. Leave the towel to soak the helmet, so the filth softens and is more easily washed away. Once the filth softens, rub them out with the mix you’ve prepared and your fingertips ever so gently to prevent scratching. Make sure also that the towel is clean and does not contain any sand or dirt, as it may damage the lacquer work and paint.
- Use moist cotton swabs to clean the air vents and tubes.
- Dry the shell with the microfiber towel. Make sure to wipe all soap residue from the shell first.
- Apply the automotive wax onto the helmet. This will make future cleaning easier as the wax prevents dirt from sticking.
- Put back the visor. If necessary, lubricate the hinges with silicone lube.
- If you’re sporting a gloss helmet, apply automotive detailing spray or polish to restore the shine.
Washing a helmet without removable padding
As we have mentioned above, cleaning a helmet without removable padding is a bit different and a tad trickier. For starters, prepare a basin and a vessel for the washing. A basin is your tub or any other place you can put the helmet in. Make sure you put a thicker towel on the bottom of the basin in order to prevent banging and scratching of the helmet. In the vessel, you shall prepare a solution of lukewarm water and soft, mild soap. Now follow the instructions:
- First, remove the visor like with the previous helmet type. Try to remove any pads you might be able to, because even in these helmets t might be possible to at least remove the cheek pads. To wash the cheek pads, just follow the instructions we’ve already given, be it for machine or hand washing.
- After you’ve filled the vessel with water, dunk the whole helmet in the solution. Lave the helmet to soak for several minutes. This will effectively loosen all the filth, such as dirt, soot, smog residue or bug guts so that you might wipe them off.
- In order to remove any bug guts and stuck grime, use the solution and your fingertips and rub gently. You can use a microfiber towel, but make sure you don’t scrub in order to prevent scratches on the liner or the shell. When it comes to the visor, be extra careful and make sure not to use your nails scratch out the filth.
- After soaking and rubbing the helmet, rinse the helmet well via a faucet or a showerhead. Make sure you’ve rinsed the helmet well, as any residue soap may further damage the inside of the helmet or the shell.
- After you’ve meticulously rinsed the helmet, it’s time to dry it. First of all, make sure to pat the insides of the helmet and the shell softly with a dry microfiber towel. Try to pick us as much as moisture as possible. After that, clean all the vent and pipes you may have on the helmet softly with a Q-tip dipped in the solution made for washing.
- After this, leave the helmet to dry naturally. Do not put the helmet in your bag, as you will undo all the washing and allow the bacteria to develop again, bringing back the smell. If you’re in a hurry, you may air dry the helmet, but be sure not to use the blow-dryer or any source that may induce temperature extremes. You may use a room fan, as long as it isn’t blowing any cold air into the helmet. This is important because temperature extremes have an adverse effect on the helmets integrity.
- When the helmet is dry, and if you own a gloss helmet, use the automotive spray or polish to bring back the old shine.
- Wax the helmet. Waxing the helmet will prevent filth from sticking. This will, in turn, help you with the future cleaning of the helmet.
- Put back the visor (after you’ve cleaned it too) and make sure you’ve lubricated it. Use silicone lube and no other, as they might contain aggressive substances that may damage the hinges and the helmet overall.
And there you have it! Now you know everything there is about motorcycle helmet maintenance and cleaning. Always remember that a helmet is invaluable when you’re riding your two-wheeled pet. No matter how good of a driver you are, you can’t prevent the incompetence and ignorance of others on the road.
All in all, if you treat your helmet with respect, it will do its job without flaws. A good helmet will mitigate a crash, but a great helmet will save your life.
We hope you enjoyed this guide, make sure to like, share, and comment if you did; after all, it is your feedback that fuels our passion for writing! With all that out of the way, we invite you to browse around some more and maybe even consult our rundown of best motorcycle helmets across various categories. Ride safely, folks!