The Right Way to Wash Your Cycling Gear

by Marc Lindsay
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The Right Way to Wash Your Cycling Gear

While tough on the bike, the expensive, lightweight, technical fabric of your cycling gear is easy to ruin in the wash if you’re not careful. But if you take a few extra precautions, your kit can still last a while. To improve the longevity of your cycling clothes and keep your technical fabrics performing as they should, follow these best practices:

1. AIR DRY BETWEEN RIDES

Washing your cycling clothes as soon as you get off the bike may not always be possible, but you can still prevent bacteria from forming in your technical fabrics if you hang your shorts, jersey and other gear on a laundry rack. This allows them to dry completely and air out for your next ride. If your cycling clothes are muddy, rinse them in cold water before airing them out to prevent stains from setting.

2. HAND WASH FOR LONGEVITY

Washing your cycling clothes by hand helps protect the thin, lightweight materials from the abuse of the washing machine. Some shampoo in the sink should do the trick, but if you want to take things a step further, try a cycling-specific laundry detergent that provides an antibacterial treatment for your clothing and preserves the color and softness.

3. WASHING MACHINE BEST PRACTICES

If you’re like me and prefer to throw your kit in the washing machine, use these tips to keep from ruining your expensive cycling clothes:

  • Zip up zippers and secure Velcro. An unzipped jersey or the Velcro on your overshoes or gloves can destroy the Lycra on your other cycling clothing in the washing machine.
  • Turn your jerseys and bibshorts inside out to protect logos and graphics.
  • Wash your cycling gear separately. Washing regular clothes, like a heavy pair of jeans or a jacket, along with your cycling gear may ruin your light, delicate cycling kit.
  • Use a mild detergent and avoid fabric softeners.
  • Choose the delicate cycle on the washing machine and a cold-water setting.
  • Use the extra rinse cycle, if available, to help remove any soap residue that can clog the fibers of your technical clothing.
  • Bonus: Place your bibshorts and jerseys inside a dedicated laundry bag (or lingerie bag) to prevent the straps of your bibshorts from wrapping around the spindle and stretching out.

4. AIR DRY AFTER WASHING

While you can put cycling clothes in the dryer, the direct heat can affect the technical fabrics and your chamois pad reducing the life of your garments. Instead, it’s better to hang dry your clothing on a laundry rack outdoors.

After hand-washing your garments, remove excess water by placing one article of clothing inside a towel at a time and wringing the water out. This helps your clothing dry faster once you place it outside.


READ MORE > 35 SIGNS YOU’RE A CYCLIST


5. EXTRA SPECIAL CARE FOR TECHNICAL GARMENTS

When washing jackets or other rain-specific cycling gear, keep in mind that if it’s been treated with a water repellent, that repellent can come off once it’s cleaned. Washing these fabrics by hand is best, and once they dry you’ll need to reapply a water repellent spray to keep the garment working as it should.

The chamois pad in your cycling shorts is the part of the garment that can be tricky to keep clean, since it’s the most likely area for bacteria to settle. Handwashing this part of your shorts with soap and scrubbing as best you can before you put it in the wash can help ensure your pad is clean and bacteria-free.

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  • Tom H

    One more washing hint: Use approximately 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the final rinse cycle. The vinegar will remove any remaining laundry soap from the clothing, and will also act as a disinfectant.