How to Clean a Helmet

Dirty rider – dirty lid

It is simply a fact of life: If you ride, your helmet will get dirty. It is just part of the nature of being exposed to the elements on your motorcycle. Rain, bugs, dust, mud, sweat, and oils from your skin and hair can lead to a very grimy helmet. Simply throwing your helmet in the closet after you have sweat in it all day can lead to some serious funk, follow these steps for how to clean your motorcycle helmet. We’ll also show you ways you probably shouldn’t, just for kicks.  So check out the video below, and read on for an in depth lesson on helmet cleanliness!

First, gather together the supplies you’ll need:

  • A few good microfiber wash cloths (non-abrasive paper towels will work in a pinch)
  • Warm water (a kitchen sink works great)
  • A mild soap such as antibacterial dish detergent or baby shampoo (avoid any petroleum or ammonia based cleaners)
  • Cleaner Polish, Wax Detailer, and your favorite automotive wax (optional)

Helmet Cleaning Supplies

Now that you have everything you need, let’s get started! If your helmet has a removable interior liner, pull it out and set it aside. Take care with the snaps and fasteners that are used, it shouldn’t take more than light pressure to remove the liner of your helmet. If your helmet’s liner is non-removable, you will want to wash out the inside of the helmet before you move on to the outside. In either case, thoroughly wet down the cheek pads and crown liner of the helmet under running warm water (getting your helmet wet won’t hurt it – just don’t use HOT water). Using your hands, work in your soap of choice into the padding. Take care not to pull too heavily on the padding, but do give it a good rub down, removing as much grime as you can. Once you have them nice and clean, start the rinsing process. Be patient as a lot of soap will have worked its way into the foam padding. Squeeze out as much soap as possible, rinse, and repeat. Do not wring out the liner, carefully squeeze it out, pat it dry with a towel, and

Don’t do this!

let it air dry. You can use a fan to help speed up the process, but avoid strong heat sources and do not put the padding in a dryer. There are glues and foams in the padding that can break down with too much heat. Now that you have the interior smelling nice and fresh, let’s get started on the outside.

Unless it is the dead of winter, you will almost certainly find some amount of bugs on your helmet and face shield. Love bugs, anyone?

Your best bet with bug guts is to clean them off as soon as possible. Not only will they be easier to clean off, but their acidic little bug bodies won’t have a chance to eat away at your helmet’s finish and face shield. If you have some really stubborn, dried on bug guts, wet a few paper towels or a wash cloth with warm water and drape it over the helmet for 5 minutes. This will soften up their little buggy remains and make them much easier to remove.

Microfiber Cloths Work Great

Using warm water, your fingers, and your wash cloth, gently clean the bugs and accumulated dirt off of the helmet. Take care to use a clean section of towel or cloth with each pass, as you don’t want a picked up piece of grit to end up scratching your helmet up. Once you have removed the bulk of grunge from the outside, you can go to work with a cleaner polish. There are several brands available, but one of our favorites is the Liquid Performance Spray Cleaner & Polish. This aerosol can will clean your helmet and leave behind a thin layer of wax, making bug cleanup much easier the next time around. If you want to take it a step further, you can use an actual automotive wax on your helmet, leaving a much thicker coat of wax that will last longer. A couple notes about automotive waxes: never use them on a matte finish helmet, and be careful not to cake wax around your vents, eye port, or other trim and logos on your helmet. Liquid Performance Cleaner Wax Detailer has been specially formulated to clean matte finishes, and comes highly recommended.

Extra care is needed when cleaning the face shield on your helmet.  Not only do you not want to scratch it (take extra care with mirrored shields), but there are also delicate coatings, such as anti-scratch and anti-fog, which can actually be washed away if you aren’t too careful.  Remove the faceshield from the helmet and clean it as best as you can using just water.  If you have something very stubborn on the outside of the shield, we have found that Plexus does a great job removing road grime and bugs, and also has the side benefit of helping water bead up and roll off your shield in the rain.  Never use rain-x, windex, or any other harsh chemicals on your shield as they will cause damage.  At the very least they will wash away the coatings on the shield, but beyond that they can render the shield very brittle, forming micro cracks that will be very hard to see through.  If you’re in this boat – it’s time for a new shield!

Another example of what NOT to do

Once your padding has dried out, go ahead and reinstall it in the helmet in the reverse order that you removed it. Try to avoid getting fingerprints on that nice shiny shell that you just cleaned up. Last step: Enjoy that fresh, clean lid!

I find that I only need to clean out the padding on my street helmets every few months, but the outside I will regularly maintain to keep free of bugs and other contaminants. Off-road helmets are a different story. I’m usually sweating a whole lot more, not to mention dust, mud, and who knows what else getting inside and on the outside of my helmet. I usually clean my off-road helmets after every ride. The steps are the same.

We hope this guide has been helpful – if you have any questions at all don’t hesitate to contact us!

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