How to Clean a Motorcycle Helmet – A Detailed Guide

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Since my childhood days, I’ve always been passionate about motorcycles. When I became of age and acquired my motorcycle, I knew much about taking care of a bike but one thing, how to clean a motorcycle helmet. This is a topic sidelined by many, and I must say I destroyed several helmets as a result of my then shallow understanding on how to properly clean a motorcycle helmet. Today, I have a much effective cleaning procedure, which helps me maintain my helmets. It is for this reason that I decided to write an easy step-by-step guide on how to wash a motorcycle helmet to help riders experiencing challenges in performing this task.

How to Clean and Maintain Your Motorcycle Helmet in 7 Steps

blue motorcycle helmet

Properly cleaning a helmet goes beyond taking a rug and scrubbing the surfaces of the gear. Prior to developing an efficient strategy, it was my approach, and I ended up damaging most of my helmets. That’s why I had to regularly purchase new helmets, and it was an economic strain. Today, I have a simple procedure that I always follow, and it helps me in keeping my helmets clean and in good working condition. Here are the 7 steps I usually follow for proper cleaning of my helmets:

  1. Source for the right cleaning materials;
  2. Detach any accessories and pads;
  3. Detach the liner;
  4. Clean the shell;
  5. Clean the liner;
  6. Wipe accessories with a wet towel;
  7. Reassemble the helmet.

When cleaning a helmet, a consideration for the safety of each component is also very vital. This washing procedure takes into account the proper handling of the gear to ensure that the helmet will be in good working condition after cleaning. Let’s take a closer look at each of the steps.

Source for the Right Cleaning Materials

The very first step to properly cleaning a helmet is getting the right cleaning materials. Different individuals tend to have diverse preferences regarding the items that best work for them, but there is a set of basic items required for this process. Other than water, it is vital to have a mild detergent that will go a long way in removing tough stains.

It is advisable not to go for a strong detergent as some cleaning agents in the market may with time fade your helmet’s outer color or patterns. Also, warm water is much efficient not only in getting rid of dirt but also bugs.

Another essential item is a soft microfiber piece of cloth. Using a rough rag to clean your helmet is certainly not a good idea unless you don’t mind having it scratched. A soft microfiber rag will get the helmet sparkling clean and leave it as smooth as it was.

The impact of using a rough rag to clean a motorcycle helmet may not be evident instantly. Still, the negative effects will become evident with time as the surface will have small scratches with a less sparkling surface. A small brush may be needed if your helmet has hard-to-reach spots such as vents. If available, an air compressor or a vacuum pump will come in handy when cleaning the vents.

Detach Any Accessories and Pads

motorcycle helmet

Removing accessories is a vital step as it not only makes cleaning the helmet easier but also ensures that critical accessories such as electronics are safe from water. For example, most bikers who are into racing typically use helmets that often have several electronic components that may include a microphone, battery compartment, antennae, LED lights, and a Bluetooth module.

If submerged in water or even become excessively wet, such components are susceptible to failing. Also, you should detach pads after removing the accessories to pave the way for easy cleaning of the interior for helmets without a detachable liner.

Besides, if your helmet has a peak, you should consider removing and cleaning it separately as it will make the task easier. A point to note, you should ensure that you observe how everything fits in place before detaching the accessories to be able to return them after you’re done with the cleaning. It might be challenging to fix everything in its appropriate place if one hadn’t marked the positioning of each item. Also, do it while exercising caution so as not to break any parts.

Detach the Liner

Depending on the manufacturer, some helmets have detachable liners, while others do not. To verify this, check your gear’s manual. Most helmets are not difficult to remove the liner, and therefore, it shouldn’t be a daunting task. While most helmets with detachable inner liner have snaps, there are other brands that use hoop-and-loop joints or even small magnets to attach the liner to the shell.

As you detach the liner, it’s important to do it with caution as liners are prone to tears owing to their soft spongy material. Once you’ve detached the liner and any other inner components, you can place them aside on a neat surface as we’ll get to cleaning them at a later step.

Clean the Shell

Here’s where the primary segment of the entire task takes place. Again, cleaning the shell shouldn’t be a tiring activity when done properly. The first action in this step is to use the air compressor to blow out loose dust from vents and other tight spots.

If you don’t have access to such a tool, you can go straight to putting warm water in a sizable container and add a mild cleaning agent in the right proportion. You should be able to submerge the shell in the water without either exposing the helmet or spilling water. From there, dunk the shell in the water and leave to soak for approximately 12 minutes.

In this way, you can ensure that tough dirt dislodges and minimize the effort required to scrub it, whereby vigorous scrubbing would easily cause scratches. Gently scour both the outer and inner surfaces of the shell with the wet microfiber cloth, and this process should be easy as the soaking has helped with the tough stains. From there, move on to the face shield.

You can detach the face shield for easier cleaning as it should be done with extra care considering how delicate the shield is. Therefore, always be careful when you want to clean a motorcycle helmet face shield. The next task in this step is to rinse both the shell and the face shield. You can rinse them under running water as this way is more efficient.

Once you are satisfied that the shell is clean, you can reattach the face shield and place it on a dirt-free surface to dry. Let it air dry as wiping with a piece of cloth may attract dirt.

Clean the Liner

Moving on to the liner, it is the part of the helmet that often has most dirt and therefore needs proper cleaning. Sweet, dust, and hair oil tend to accumulate over time, and therefore the lining is not only stuffy but also has a substantial amount of grime.

Similar to a shell, when you want to clean the inside of a motorcycle helmet, fill a container with warm water and add a gentle cleaning agent in the correct proportion. From there, submerge the inner lining and other inner components such as chin pads in the water. You might consider soaking them for a few minutes for easier cleaning.

Gently scrub the liner to avoid tearing delicate parts. From there, place the inner components on a clean surface and allow them to air dry. Worth mentioning, it is important to do the cleaning at an earlier time before your next scheduled ride to make room for thorough drying.

Wipe Accessories with a Wet Towel

In this step, use a wet microfiber cloth to mildly wipe the outer accessories that cannot be dunked for cleaning. These include lights and other electronic components such as a microphone, Bluetooth module, and the battery compartment. Make sure that the rag is not overly wet to avoid water dripping into the gadgets.

The primary objective here is to remove sweat and dust particles that have accumulated on these components. With that said, this step should be carefully executed so, to avoid damaging these critical items. As a precaution, wipe the accessories while at a distance from a water source or container as they may slip and fall into the water. In case you are dealing with tough grime accumulated on the surface, you can cover the accessory with a damp towel so as to allow the dirt to absorb moisture and loosen.

Reassemble the Helmet

The last step involves reassembling the helmet once all the parts are completely dry. It should be done in a systematic order to avoid mix up. Start with reattaching the liner into the shell. It will make it easier to reinsert other inner components, such as pads. You can always refer to your gear’s manual in case of any difficulties or uncertainties.

From there, insert back any inner components such as cheek pads. The next task would be fitting back the external accessories. Noteworthy, this step should be carefully carried out to avoid breaking any parts.

Once the reassembly is complete, properly store the helmet if it’s not being used immediately. You can place it on a clean secure surface and cover it with a clean piece of cloth to keep away dust.

What Not to Do When Cleaning a Helmet

person riding on the motorcycle

Proper cleaning of a motorcycle helmet goes a long way into ensuring that it is well maintained to facilitate proper functioning. In this regard, there are a number of things a biker ought not to do when washing a helmet. Here’s an outline of five things to avoid when cleaning a helmet:

  • Do not use a bleaching agent. Washing with a bleaching agent to remove tough stains will ultimately result in frustration as it will decolorize your helmet.
  • Keep off from using fabric softeners, specifically when cleaning the liner. Using such cleaning agents will interfere with the functionality of moisture-wicking liners, and therefore may cause the inside of the helmet to drip with sweat.
  • Never use a brush with tough bristles to scrub any part of the helmet. It will most likely cause tearing when cleaning the inner liner or ugly scratches when cleaning the face shield and the shell.
  • Avoid using solvent-based cleaners as these are likely to corrode your helmet’s paint. Use gentle cleaning agents such as baby shampoo that is equally effective in getting rid of tough stains.
  • Do not dry your helmet’s liner using a dryer. It might affect the structure of the liner by shrinking the fabric and sponge used; hence it wouldn’t properly fit in the shell upon reassembly.

Taking the above precautions will enable you to efficiently maintain your helmet and ensure a longer service period.

Also, try as much as possible to avoid dropping your helmet. It may result in scratches, breaking of accessories, visor, and even the outer shell.

In this regard, proper storage of the helmet should be put into consideration. Do not hang the helmet where it can be easily knocked off. You can consider placing it on a level surface and cover it each time you are not using it. It will minimize not only the accumulation of dust but also chances of falling. But if a part such as a face shield breaks, you can conveniently get a replacement from your vendor.

Proper Helmet Cleaning Facilitates Longer Service

Regularly cleaning a helmet is a vital part of maintenance procedures, and therefore washing your motorcycle helmet the right way ultimately fosters a longer service span. Nonetheless, doing it the wrong way may prove costly.

Cleaning should be done in a systematic manner to avoid ruining and breaking off any parts. Only proper cleaning materials should be used, and the basics include mild shampoo cleaner, warm water and a soft rag.

Using warm water goes a long way in getting rid of bugs and dislodging tough dirt. When disassembling for cleaning, make sure you observe the way everything fits together to be able to reassemble your helmet after cleaning. Also, detaching various parts should be done with extra care as some components such as the visor can be easily broken when improperly handled.

Make sure that cleaning is done a little earlier than the next intended day of use, at least a day earlier so as to facilitate proper drying. Also, avoid dropping the helmet as it may cause significant mechanical damage. Observing the don’ts such as keeping off from using solvent-based cleaning agents will help in maintaining the helmet.

What procedure have you been following when cleaning your helmet? What cleaning items do you use to wash your helmet? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Max fondly remembers going to the 2005 MotoGP at Laguna Seca with his father when he was about 13. That’s when he first saw a moto-race, and his life has never been the same anymore. He fell in love with motorcycles, the race, the atmosphere of that adventure. Since then, Max spent a lot of time at race circuits with his father (who was a rider and mechanic himself). He’s been learning all there is to know about bikes.

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