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How To Clean a Motorcycle Helmet

how to clean a motorcycle helmet

A grubby helmet is a recipe for disaster. If the caked-on mud and scuff marks blinding your vision don’t get you in trouble, the supreme funk coming from your sweat-stained liners probably will. How do you clean the inside of a motorcycle helmet? Turns out, it’s easy, doesn’t take much time and can even improve the lifespan of your favorite lid. Learn more about basic motorcycle helmet cleaning guide and leave the dirt and mud on the trail where it belongs.

Practical Do’s and Don’ts

If you’re looking for a few general pointers instead of a long-winded how-to guide, take these practical steps. This isn’t the whole story, but some essential first steps to proper cleaning:

  • Choose a mild soap and microfiber towel
  • Scrub gently on your visor
  • Use automotive polish for a gloss helmet shell
  • Lubricate essential moving parts
  • Wear a skull cap next time to prevent oily buildup

There are plenty of ways that helmet cleaning can go wrong. Avoid these common mistakes and you’ll enjoy a long-lasting helmet:

  • Avoid class cleaner or ammonia-based cleaners
  • Don’t use a dryer for your helmet liner
  • Avoid petroleum or solvent-based cleaners
  • Don’t wait too long to clean your helmet

Follow these next steps for the full story on helmet cleaning. Tackle each step to keep your helmet looking sparkling clean, smelling great and holding up for years to come.

Grab Some Cleaning Tools

If cleaning tools sounds like a curse word in your garage, you’ll need to buckle down and buy a few for proper helmet cleaning. Using a plain rag or the wrong soap could leave a film on your helmet. You’ll not only waste your time washing a helmet with the wrong soap but you may distort your vision, peel the paint off your helmet or do other damage.

Here are the basic cleaning tools for cleaning a motorcycle helmet. There are a lot of specialty options out there, but these basics will get the job done:

  • Baby shampoo
  • Microfiber towels
  • Toothbrush
  • Compressed air
  • Warm water
  • Automotive polish for a gloss helmet

Don’t skip this step. Using the wrong soap or rag can leave a film on your helmet or compromise the surface. It’s easy to scratch a polished helmet or faceshield if you use the wrong type of cloth. If you’ve invested in a premium helmet, don’t ruin it by trying to save a few bucks on cleaning tools.

Take Off Any Accessories

One of the worst mistakes you can make is to start hosing down your helmet right away. Remove any accessories first to keep them safe. Bluetooth speakers, microphones, removable visors and other accessories should all be removed. Don’t damage your equipment or struggle to clean around a visor when you could remove it and save yourself the trouble. Set these accessories to the side and wait to install them until your helmet is completely clean and dry.

Check for a Removable Interior

Most modern bike helmets have a removable interior. Whether it’s an entire piece, separate cheek pads or both, remove all these pieces for easy cleaning. Some pads are attached by magnets, while others are hook-and-loop material. You may have helmet pads that aren’t removable, so be sure to check before you start pulling on things. Set the pads aside and focus on preparing the shell first.

Prepare the Shell

The shell of your motorcycle helmet is exposed to some serious grime. Flying mud, splattered bugs, sweat, grease and oil can all become caked on your helmet. All this stubborn gunk needs to be removed. Instead of fighting with it, give your arms a break and use warm water to loosen all the caked-on grime. Soak one of your microfiber clothes in warm water and drape it over the shell. While this works its magic, clean up those interior pads.

Clean the Interior

These pads are probably the source of all your unusual helmet smells. Adrenaline-filled rides lead to sweat-covered helmet pads. Thankfully, these are easy to clean. Simply fill up a bucket or sink with warm water and baby shampoo. Give the pads a good washing and scrubbing. They’ll need to be set to the side and air dried, so don’t start your helmet cleaning process minutes before a big race or trail-blazing adventure.

Clean the Shell

Now that the warm microfiber rag has done most of the work for you it’s time to wipe off the shell of your helmet. Don’t use soap on your faceshield, and remove it if you can to wipe it off separately. How do you get scuff marks off a motorcycle helmet? Use a toothbrush for hard-to-reach areas and use a clean microfiber cloth with water to get off any scuff marks. Use automotive polish to buff a gloss shell back to its signature shine.

Take Care of the Vents and Face Shield

Don’t forget all those little details. A good helmet has all kinds of vents and other crevices for dirt, sweat and insect parts to become lodged in. Use a toothbrush or air compressor to clear your vents and restore your full ventilation. This will not only remove any strange smells from your helmet, but also reduce fogging and sweat as you enjoy proper ventilation again.

Check your faceshield to see if it has an anti-fog or UV coating. If so, don’t use baby shampoo or soap. Wipe it down with warm water and don’t scrub it too hard. Hard scrubbing and soap can wipe the protection off the faceshield. It may void your manufacturer’s warranty in the process.

Test Out Your Sparkling Helmet

Once your helmet is sparkling and your interior liner and pads are dry, it’s time to reassemble your helmet. Now that you’re a pro at cleaning helmets you can help all your buddies who are asking, “Can you wash a motorcycle helmet?” A thorough helmet cleaning is good maintenance and can improve the lifespan of your helmet, but always check that your helmet is still certified before you hit the trail. Most helmets come with an expiration date. No amount of cleaning can extend that date, so check out a new helmet when it’s time to retire your old one.

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