Helmet‌ ‌Care‌

Story by Costa Mouzouris//
November 1 2015

When your feet smell better than your helmet does, it’s time to take action.

I recently took a good look at some of my helmets, and it occurred to me that they haven’t been cleaned. Ever. Actually, it’s more accurate to say I took a good whiff of them, and they didn’t smell rosy.

Many helmet makers now make removable liners and cheek pads, making the washing process much easier and more thorough. The first thing to determine is whether your helmet can be taken apart. This information is found in the instruction manual that came with your helmet, or at the manufacturer’s website, if it’s a mainstream helmet brand (you shouldn’t, after all, trust your noggin to some fly-by-night helmet brand sold at your local flea market).

I recently washed two of my helmets, a Schuberth C3 and an Arai XD4, which I describe here; cleaning your helmet should be very similar. The Schuberth has gotten more use and was the stinky one, while the Arai has seen some off-road use and was dusty.

The entire liners and cheek pads can be removed from both helmets. These are mostly held in place by snaps, except on the XD4, in which the cheek pads are wedged in. Always take care when removing these components; don’t just yank on them. Pull apart each snap individually (they are generally coloured and easily identifiable), and make sure you understand the procedure before attempting to take your lid apart; for example, XD4 instructions state you must pull the cheek pads toward the rear before lifting them off.

The C3’s foam padding cannot be separated from the cloth material, whereas on the XD4, the cloth material on the cheek pads can be washed separately. If the foam and cloth are integral, you just wash them together. The main difference here is in drying time. Also note that your helmet, like my XD4, might have glued foam inserts in the cheek pads that can be removed to adjust the fit (more reason to read those instructions!).

The helmet liner and cheek pads should be washed in lukewarm water (around 30 C), with a very small amount of laundry detergent. I prefer liquid detergent, because it dilutes more easily into the water, and I use a ratio of about 50 mL of detergent to 4 L of water. Immerse the liner parts in the water and let them soak for a few minutes, followed by squeezing and pressing down on the foam and gently rubbing the cloth. Follow this with a thorough rinse with water.

To begin the drying process, gently squeeze the water out, and under no circumstances should you wring the liner parts dry – this will damage them. Once most of the water has been squeezed out, wrap the liner parts in a clean towel and press them to further remove water. Finally, let them air-dry. (This will probably take 24 hours, so don’t plan on washing your helmet on the morning of your departure on that cross-country tour.) While the lining is out, remember to wipe out the inside of the helmet.

If the liner cannot be removed, wash the interior using a washcloth moistened with the cleaning solution described above. Just dab the interior thoroughly with the wet cloth, then dry it with a dry cloth, and repeat the process with a wet cloth (no detergent) to rinse it. Let it dry for a day, open end up.

The outer shell should be cleaned with a cloth and warm water, and if there are particularly stubborn bugs, place a cloth wet with hot water over the area for several minutes to soften them up. Never use solvents on the shell, and if it has a shiny finish, a coat of wax won’t hurt. Never use wax on a matte finish, or you’ll end up giving it a nice, unwanted shine.

The visor likely needs the most frequent care, but it also needs the gentlest care. First and foremost, when riding in the rain, never swipe the rain away with your hand, especially when gloved – this is guaranteed to scratch your visor.
To clean a visor that does not have an anti-fog coating, use warm water and a touch of dishwashing liquid. I use my bare hands under the warm water to rub off bugs, then give it a thorough rinse and dry it off with a clean towel.

A visor that has an anti-fog coating can be washed with water and soap on the outside, but should only be cleaned with a microfibre cloth on the inside. This coating is easily damaged, and must not get wet.

While the visor is off, have a look at the mounting screws and tighten them if necessary, but not too tight, because they’re made of plastic. And finally, when you store your helmet, always leave the visor open a bit to let the
interior breathe.

Technical articles are written purely as reference only and your motorcycle may require different procedures. You should be mechanically inclined to carry out your own maintenance and we recommend you contact your mechanic prior to performing any type of work on your bike.


Copyright ©2002-2024 Motorcycle Mojo | Privacy Policy | Built by Gooder Marketing