How To Wash Cycling Clothes Without Damaging Them

Washing your cycling attire properly can extend the life of them so you can spend more money on your bike, plus cycling clothes are expensive so you probably want them to last a long time. However, there is some debate about the best way to wash cycling clothes and not a lot of information on the best ways to wash them.

Many of the labels on cycling clothes will tell you that you should hand wash the items and not dry or iron them, but is that really the best use of time when you could be out on the road? There are some advantages and disadvantages of the different ways to wash cycling clothes, so do what works best for you.

Advantages of Hand Washing

Hand washing uses less water and can save you money on energy costs. You don’t need to collect similar clothes to fill up your machine and you can get away with owning fewer cycling clothes, since you can wash them daily or whenever you need them. Hand washing is gentler on your clothes and your clothes can be cleaner because you know to focus on the dirty areas.

Advantages of Machine Washing

If you have a lot of cycling clothes to get clean, a big load will get washed much faster in the machine. You can save a lot of time by throwing your clothes into the machine, instead of hand washing. There are still different cycle options on newer machines, so you can still give your clothes a delicate washing. Some machines even have a hand wash option. You don’t need to put in any physical effort when using the machine, as opposed to hand washing.

Choosing whether or not to hand wash or machine wash may depend on how dirty your clothes are, your available time, your comfort level, and the final results. Many times after riding on muddy trails, it may make more sense to wash cycling clothes in the machine. If you are using a machine, make sure to follow these tips to still get a gentle wash out of clothes and extend their life.

Step-by-Step Bike Clothes Washing

Separate Clothes and Colors: Separating colors is probably true of all your clothes, but it’s important for your cycling clothes. Washing dark clothes with light will make your light clothes dingy. When using the machine, wash with similar clothes. Don’t add wool or leather with strong colors to the machine if you don’t have enough cycling clothes to fill up the cycle.

Turn Clothes Inside Out and Zip Up: Make sure to zip up any shorts or jerseys. If zippers are left undone, they can tear up other clothes that are in the machine. If pockets are zipped up, it can also prevent whatever is in your pockets from coming out and destroying any other clothes in the cycle. As a precautionary measure while you are zipping up your clothes, check your pockets. Turning clothes inside out will also help protect some of the colors, as well as any graphics and logos that are on the jerseys. If you notice your clothes are exceptionally dirty after a muddy ride, soak them in some warm water for a few hours to make sure they will get extra clean and the mud doesn’t transfer to any other clothes in the wash. You could be surprised to see just how dirty the water is afterward.

Special Care for Bike Shorts: Your bike shorts are probably some of the most important cycling clothing options you have and you want to make sure they keep you comfortable for many rides to come. Turn the biking shorts inside out in order to protect the padding. Avoid putting them in the dryer, since this can be bad for the texture of the padding. Don’t forget to zip up any zippers.

Use the Delicate Cycle: The delicate cycle will be much gentler on your clothes and is usually a shorter cycle time, so you can save water and energy while you wash your clothes. Some people prefer to wash jerseys and socks in the washing machine and hand wash bike shorts, but bike shorts can be washed in the machine as long as you use the delicate cycle.

Hang Dry: The dryer is dangerous for high performance fabrics, so don’t dry your cycling clothes. Also don’t iron them, which you probably don’t want to waste time doing anyway. Heat is not good for cycling clothes. Squeeze the water out or shake them and then hang them to dry. If you are hand washing, remove any extra water by placing the garment on a towel.

Pick the Right Detergent: The wrong detergent can ruin your cycling clothes. After repeated washes with the wrong detergent, you will definitely notice a difference. There are detergents that designed for sports clothes and other detergents can ruin your padding. Cyclists recommend Sports Suds Detergent and Penguin Apparel Care Sport Wash. Too much detergent can clog up the high performance fabric that your cycling clothes are made from, and they won’t do as good of a job at wicking away any moisture. Make sure to not add any fabric softener to the load. Since you aren’t going to be drying your clothes, you won’t have to worry about staying away from dryer sheets.

Keep the Water Cool: Don’t use hot water to wash your clothes. Instead, use cool or lukewarm water. If you still see soap after the rinse cycle, you are probably using too much detergent and you can rinse your cloths again in some cool water. Make sure there is no residue left behind. An extra rinse cycle may be useful if you are noticing a lot of residue.

Some Things Need to Be Hand Washed: While it’s a debate about whether or not some of the items can be washed in the machine, make sure gloves and cycling caps get hand washed. Many gloves, depending on the materials used, can become stiff or hard when put in the wash. This is also the same for cycling caps. The wash can break them and then they are useless, so take the extra time for these items.

Wash Only When Needed: It may seem gross, but many cyclists don’t wash clothes after each ride. Washing them after each ride can be a lot of work. It’s a good idea to hang them to dry after a training and wash them after a particularly sweat ride or when they are dirty. The more times clothes go through the washing machine, the faster they will wear out. If clothes get muddy, rinse them before stains set in, especially if you aren’t going to wash for a few days.

Shawna Newman

Shawna currently lives in Las Vegas where she gets in lots of great hiking at Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park. When she has time, she visits National Parks in a quest to visit each one in the U.S. Shawna’s favorite outdoors activity is hiking and her favorite National Park (so far) is Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.