If you have been using your motorcycle for a few years, and you have been riding safely with a helmet, you know that after a while, your helmet starts to smell.
The odor has nothing to do with your personal hygiene, but from the fact that your skin and hair breathe and at the same time ooze an oily substance. There is very little you can do about it, and after a few years, you will be able to notice it inside your helmet. Even wearing a bandana will not prevent your helmet from smelling, it just takes longer.
So if you like having that “new helmet smell” you can either buy a fragrance especially made for helmets, or you can just clean your helmet. I much more prefer to clean my helmet and not put in some chemicals.
There are two types of insides for helmets, one is very easy to clean, the other requires a bit more work.
The easy one is removable liners. This means you can remove, usually by gently pulling out, the cheekpads and lining. They are mostly held by Velcro or push-buttons, so just pull out.
Then your next step is put the removed linings and other bit & bobs into your washing machine (laundry) and set it to the “delicate” cycle. This will ensure that the linings don’t get boiled. Don’t forget to add your detergent before starting the washing machine.
When finished, just hang out to dry. Do not put in the dryer. That’s all there is to it.
Not Removable Lining
In some helmets, you can not remove the insides. For those you need a bit more work. For best working conditions, I recommend doing this in the shower.
Remove all removable parts like your visor, cheekpads, or anything that moves. Get a big basin or bucket that is big enough for your helmet to fit in, fill it with lukewarm water and put a generous portion of good shampoo in it. Stir the water so that soap suds appear.
Use your shower to wet your helmet, in and outside. This rising operation will ensure that a) bits & dirt are removed and b) it’s ready to be cleaned.
Now place your helmet, bottom first, inside the bucket or basin. Make sure it is all in. After soaking it in, pull out the helmet and turn in around so you have access to the inside.
With your hand rub the inside. It should be covered with shampoo suds, so easy to clean. Rub the shampoo all over the inside. Be gently but firm.
Then using your shower, rinse out the shampoo thoroughly. Make sure that you have removed all shampoo, because if you don’t, you’ll have dundruff…. ;)
Place the helmet, bottom below on a surface that is well aired and let it dry naturally. I do NOT recommend using a hairdryer.
Cleaning The Outside
Although it has nothing to do with the smell you may experience when you are wearing your helmet, since you are in a cleaning mood, why not spend some time cleaning the outside?
Use a mild detergent, usually a shampoo or even a mild dish-cleaning liquid. Wet a cloth, (cotton or microfibre) put some drops of the detergent on it and gently wipe the shell. Once you have cleaned off all the dirt and dead bugs, use another wet cloth to wipe the helmet.
Remember to clean the outside of your visor, although I prefer to do that with paper towels since they don’t leave any marks.
Using a spray cleaner
If you don’t want to spend the time cleaning your helmet, get a spray cleaner that eliminates odors.
It is not the same, but it does work, though you will need to at one time do a proper cleaning.
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