Updated Dec 3, 2016
With so many large projects rising out of motorcycle ownership, it’s no surprise when minor upkeep is left by the wayside. On any afternoon we might find ourselves changing oil, adjusting valves or mounting tires. Meanwhile, non-priorities such as helmet hygiene develop until we put them on and are roundhoused by the bacterial aroma of burnt Starbucks and Nebraskan cow pastures.
A clean motorcycle helmet is one of a few lesser considerations in pleasurable riding. Fortunately, the process of cleaning a helmet as well as it’s liner is far easier than one might expect. Minimal materials are involved and disassembly/reassembly is merely a matter of manuals and a bit of backtracking.
Safety, bacteria and general odor issues can be resolved in under ten minutes by following the steps below. Your helmet’s exterior should be cleaned more frequently as it’s subject to direct elements. Liners are perhaps best removed and washed on a quarterly schedule, depending.
Helmet Cleaning Products We’ll Be Using
I mention Honda Spray Cleaner & Polish where others might prefer Plexus. I used to buy Plexus religiously but it’s popularity has inspired resellers to raise the price. Honda Cleaner can be found for sometimes half the cost and provides identical results.
Cleaning Your Motorcycle Helmet’s Exterior
Honda Cleaner is intended for use with plastics and other sensitive parts. With their own label instructions in mind and having removed all attached recharcheables, it’s safe to apply a reasonable coat. Read your helmet manufacturer’s instructions to be sure their washing procedures don’t require non-solvent cleaners. Flat black paint, for example, tends to rub off when subjected to chemicals. Yes, I learned this the hard way (note the shine).
After spraying the entire exterior of your helmet, slowly count to ten. This allows the cleaner to loosen/dissolve any debris or insects which may have met their fate during a ride. Repeat the chant: “Carnuba wax low VOC exceeding current CARB and OTC standards” if it helps.
Using one of your two microfiber towels, wipe away the excess. One towel likely won’t be enough, so you’ll probably notice streaks. Once the excess is gone, switch to your second towel and gently wipe all remnants to a streak-free shine.
Here’s a step in the helmet cleaning process that many overlook (don’t). Carefully remove your external visor, spray it’s interior and clean it accordingly using the same towel change up as before. Reinstall and enjoy crystal clear riding.
Cleaning Your Motorcycle Helmet’s Interior
The slides above show my removal of three liner components from a Shoei Neotec modular helmet. If your helmet’s modular, open the front section. Detach the rear points of the upper liner (“hat” area) and tuck it inside somewhere out of the way. Pop out the left and right cheek pads. Next, gently unsnap the upper liner towards the helmet’s front brow and remove it.
A clean motorcycle helmet is important for safe riding. Fortunately, the process of cleaning a helmet as well as it's liner is easier than one might expect.
Now it’s time to prepare the liner materials for the washing machine. Tossing them in loosely can prove harmful. The machine tosses things around violently, so little bits end up taking the brunt. To avoid this, we bundle them together using a mesh washing bag.
Place the contained helmet liner into a washing machine with other dirty towels or laundry you may have. It’s better to wash your helmet liner with other laundry than by itself. This stops the liner from being bounced around during a spin cycle or from creating an unbalanced load.
Add an appropriate amount of non-toxic laundry detergent and proceed with a normal wash cycle. Once finished, DO NOT MACHINE DRY. Instead, space the liner materials evenly away from one another on a drying rack before reinstalling after a few hours.
There you have it! By following the above steps, you should now have a clean, clear, ride-ready motorcycle helmet (and liner) that’s free from bacterial odor. Revisiting these instructions on a quarterly or mileage basis will insure a better riding experience.
How Do You Clean Your Motorcycle Helmet?
Not all helmets are the same. Does yours require a different approach? What products do you use and what’s your process? Your input is invited. Post an article!