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What is the best way to wash a bike helmet?

The straps are getting a bit rank from sweat and I'd like a better alternative to just hosing it down.

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What is the meaning of this "wash" thing? – Daniel R Hicks Mar 1 '12 at 19:15
@DanielRHicks Would it help to replace 'wash' with 'remove stink from'? :) – Trey Jackson Mar 1 '12 at 19:17
I prefer to think of it as "The sweet smell of the road." – Daniel R Hicks Mar 1 '12 at 23:17
I try to put the straps under my chin where my nose can't smell them – Unsliced Mar 2 '12 at 12:58
up vote 8 down vote accepted

From time to time, I soak it in water with a bit of glicerin soap ("neutral", recommended on manuals) disolved, in a bucket. I leave it a whole day submerged (have to put something heavy over the helmet, otherwise it floats out).

My rationale is this: when you submerge, the natural diffusion process inside liquids makes the soap penetrate the sweat, and part of the sweat to disolve in the water. Soap has a natural tendency to suspend fat, and fatty acids released by skin are the hardest part to take away from the straps (the minerals, like salt, ammonia and the like, go away from diffusion even without soap). Also, these are consumed by bacteria and produce the stinky substances.

After this process is done, I wash it by replacing the whole water many times, while diving it repeatedly and vigorously inside the bucket.

Drying in a sunlit place (not necessarily direct sun) in a dry and windy day is ideal to kill the last bacteria and eliminate the last vestigial stinks.

I have already disassembled the fittings through which the straps run, tied a thread to one of the straps ends, and pulled the straps out, leaving the thread behind. Washed the straps alone, and pulled them back using the thread. My conclusion: too much work, risk of not getting it right, and not so much better than the previously described procedure.

Hope it helps.

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If you really want to get the smell out, go to a sporting goods store, wander over to the hunter's section, and buy some hunter's odor remover. It's specially formulated to take out fatty acids like butyric acid, the building-block of human stinkiness. – Daniel R Hicks Mar 1 '12 at 23:21
@DanielRHicks nice nice nice! Didn't knew this thing existed. – heltonbiker Mar 2 '12 at 11:47

Rather than any complicated method or products, I do the following:

  1. Take it with me when I shower.
  2. Lather up hair with my preferred shampoo.
  3. Loosen straps and fittings, place helmet on head and move and squish it around a bit to distribute the shampoo.
  4. Rinse
  5. Repeat.

Shampoo or body wash works great. Then I just clip the straps over a line to hang the helmet to dry.

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