Picture the scene. You've just shelled out a good percentage of your monthly salary on some awesome quality and oh so stylish cycling gear. You want to protect your investment. So what do you do? Well you try not to fall off for a start, but assuming you don't fall off, the next thing to concentrate on is taking care of the clothing during washing. And so, on to the tips!
1. Be gentle
Let's face it, rolling around inside the washing machine with your jeans and t-shirts on a hot wash is no fun. Pleeease wash your cycling gear separately from your normal clothes using a gentle, cooler wash cycle. Lycra can and will lose it's elasticity if washed to hot. Check your gear for any specific washing instructions.
2. Zip 'em up and stick 'em in a bag
It's a good idea to zip up your Jerseys and put your bib shorts into mesh laundry bags (lingerie bags) to help protect them. We know this may feel weird for those not used to lingerie bag washing but for those people (you know who you are...) we have coined the helpful alternative phrase - cycling gear washing bag™ instead :)
Joking aside, bib shorts can be a delicious treat for a hungry washing machine, don't let yours get eaten.
Jersey zips can damage the Jersey itself or other delicate clothes if they are left flailing around like an 90's raver. Please zip them up or give them their own lingerie, sorry cycling gear washing bag™ to keep them safely away from other clothes.
3. Velcro, the enemy within
Who would have thought that such a miracle of modern fastenings could hide such a dark secret? Well look at it under a magnifying glass and you'll see why. Hundreds of tiny little hooks are just waiting for the chance to attack your delicate jersey! Either hand wash gear with Velcro fastenings such as gloves, or place it in it's own cycling gear washing bag™
4. Be cool
Use cool or even cold water and try the 'delicates' setting.
Apart from being better for the planet, using cold water is easier on the clothes and the 'delicates' setting will gently stroke and massage your clothes clean instead of thrashing them clean using scalding hot water heated by the fires of hell... Seriously though, a lower spin speed and a gentler washing motion won't damage your Lycra shorts or mesh panelled gear.
5. Pre-wash and extra rinse
This can help rid the clothing of dodgy smelling bacteria that can build up over a few rides if you sweat as much as you should. Yes, we know it never happens to you :) ...but just in case it does. Keep a look out for sport detergents which are designed to forcefully but humanely send smell-causing germs to bacteria heaven. Rubbing the detergent into particularly fragrant areas can speed the passage of bacteria to the pearly gates.
6. Don't be soft
Fabric softeners or heavily perfumed detergents can inhibit the effect of wicking fabrics and waterproof coatings. Avoid them if you can.
7. Bibs & shorts
If anything needs a regular trip to the washing machine, it's shorts and bibs. Keeping those bad boys (and girls) free from bacteria will help prevent those thankfully rare sores and infections associated with chafing around your sexy bits. That was not a humourous sentence ;) If you cycle a lot and don't have access to 24/7 washing and drying services, then multiple pairs of cycling bibs or shorts are essential. Turn them inside out when you wash them for the ultimate cleanse.
8. Air dry if possible
Tumble dryers are not known as Satan's cheese graters for nothing. It can be a bit of a risk drying your cycle gear in one of these. If you can, just let nature do the work, hang them on a drying rack, they'll be dry in no time. Trust us. If you're in a real hurry to get back on your bike and your dryer is guaranteed demon-free, then make sure you set it on a low heat setting.
9. Warmers, vests and accessories
Only wash these when you really need to, they don't need as much washing as other bits of clothing as they don't come in to contact with as much sweat as shorts or jerseys. Washing them only now and again will help them keep their shape and elasticity longer. If you're a cyclocross/gravel or MTB rider, ignore what we just said.
10. Don't wash for the fun of it
Tempting though it may be to cancel a date because you'd rather have some laughs alone by the washing machine, we'd advise only washing cycling clothes when you need to. Only wash things that you know you have sweated in. For example it's quite possible that arm and leg warmers aren't super wet after an average ride and can stand being worn a few times before washing.
I do two other things that reduce the need for frequent washing. Primo, I probably have more gear than I need, especially bib shorts, but that means they get some air for a few days before I wear them again, and air is bad for bacteria. Secundo, I have a shower (or a swim if the fjord is warm enough) before every ride, taking special care to get my «sexy parts» clean before putting my shorts on.
Thank you very much for the advice. We always use wash bags and they are really very useful to avoid friction and snags on your jerseys and bibs. Good article!
Hi! Thank you for the humorous insight to cycle gear sanitation! Forwarded it to the whole family and thank you for your wonderful winter products. They’ve served us well throughout the Belgian winter.
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