Riding helmets are the most important piece of equipment that a rider possesses and is often the most neglected. We spend money and time cleaning and polishing our saddles and boots, but how much time and care do we spend on our riding helmet? I know I have been guilty of carefully cleaning and polishing my horse’s bit after a ride and then just toss my sweaty dirty helmet in the gear bag without a second thought.
Regular cleaning of our riding helmets is important to keep them free from fungus and bacteria and smelling nice and fresh. Keeping your helmet clean and dry will also help to make sure it is safe and strong, as moisture, fungus, and bacteria can start to break down the materials used to make your helmet causing them to become brittle and more fragile. I think we can all agree that a strong safe helmet that does not smell is important.
Tips to improve the life of your helmet:
- Always store your helmet in a cool dry place away from light. Humidity and extreme heat and cold can cause helmets to become weak.
- Helmets should always be clean and completely dry before they are stored to prevent bacterial and fungal growth.
- If you store your helmet in a helmet bag, make sure it is regularly cleaned as well.
- Inspect chin straps before riding and replace your helmet if they become worn or frayed.
- Always replace helmets every 5 years or after suffering from trauma.
- Do not drop your helmet.
How often should I clean my helmet?
Always give your helmet a good clean whenever it gets visibly soiled. Spray your helmet with a helmet deodoriser or sanitiser after every use and allow to dry before storing or wearing again. If you ride daily or multiple times a week, your helmet should have a good clean once a week and allowed to air dry before using again. Even if your helmet is not visibly soiled, things like sweat and sunscreen and makeup and hair products can build up in the lining and create a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. If you only ride occasionally, your helmet should have a good clean once every couple of months and a spot clean after every use.
How to clean your helmet:
- If your helmet is wet or muddy, allow it to dry in a cool dark place first for easier cleaning.
- Brush off dirt with a soft lint free cloth or clothes brush.
- The outside of helmets that are not covered in velvet can be cleaned with mild soap and warm water using a sponge or lint free cloth.
- Velvet covered helmets can be gently brushed clean with a soft cloths brush or sponge or lint brush or lint free cloth.
- Use a commercial helmet cleaner for the inside of the helmet if it does not have a removable liner.
- Do not use harsh cleaners or disinfectants that contain alcohol or acid-based chemicals on helmets as that can degrade the glue holding it together.
- Wash removeable liners by hand in lukewarm soapy water or place them in a washing bag used to wash delicates and machine wash on a gentle cycle. Do not wring or put the liner in a clothes dryer. Allow them to air dry completely before putting them back in your helmet.
- If your helmet has hard to reach grooves and holes, you can use a can of compressed air to help blow out any dust or debris stuck inside. Cotton buds and soft toothbrushes are also handy for those hard-to-reach places.
Written by Neely Hopkins