How to Clean Cycling Clothes


Cyclists are caring more and more about their appearance on the saddle. There are men who won’t be seen riding without having had a bit of a beard trim beforehand, and women who would never entertain the idea of putting a helmet on top of anything less than perfectly styled hair.

Beautiful Cyclist

However, clothing is often overlooked, and it’s not uncommon to see cyclists wearing muddy jackets, ripped trousers, and reflective strips that are so dirty that they no longer reflect a thing! So what are the best cleaning tips for keeping stylish cycling clothes looking good?

How to Clean Merino Wool

If you’re a cyclist who doesn’t have a merino wool top in your wardrobe, then it’s time to get one. Merino wool is an absolutely essential piece of cycling clothing, with its unique abilities to help regulate your body temperature. Strong merino wool offers unbeatable warmth in the winter, while ultra-fine wool absorbs moisture from sweat, helping to keep you cool in the summer. Unfortunately, wool has a bit of a reputation for being challenging to clean, but it’s really not difficult. Wool can be machine washed at 30°C or less using a mild laundry detergent, but it should not be tumble dried due to the risk of shrinking. Neither should it be hung from a clothesline as the weight of the water could stretch the top. To dry merino wool, lay it flat on some absorbent towels, and reshape while it’s still a little damp.

Baggy Jumper

How to Clean Waterproof Clothing

There’s a common misconception that waterproof jackets and trousers cannot be washed, but they can! Outdoor clothing brand Berghaus states that waterproof clothing can safely be machine washed at 30°C or less using a good quality laundry detergent – either powdered or liquid. The only thing you’ll need to watch out for is that you remember not to add any fabric softener, which can reduce the effectiveness of the durable water repellent. Over time, the waterproof coating may start to diminish, especially with frequent washing, but it’s easy to re-coat your clothing with a DWR chemical treatment to add extra protection – as you can see in the video below.

Dealing with Hoops & Loops

Hoops and loops are a vital aspect of any good trousers or shorts worn for cycling, but they can be a bit of a nightmare when it comes to keeping those trousers clean and in one piece! The problem with hoops and loops is simple – they can become caught on the internal workings of the washing machine, resulting in snagging, tearing, or ripping of the material. Fortunately, most hoops and loops are adjustable, and the risks of washing can be reduced by securing these hoops and loops tightly before popping in the machine. Some however, aren’t adjustable, or aren’t adjustable enough. In these circumstances, consider purchasing a laundry bag. Laundry bags are made from lightweight mesh or netting, and allow water and detergent to do their job while protecting your clothes from the drum. An empty pillowcase works equally as well, if you’re looking for ways to save money.

Why go through all the effort of purchasing stylish cycling clothes, perfecting your appearance, and then throwing on a cycling outfit that’s covered in dirty mud and unsightly sweat stains? Although cycling clothes and materials aren’t the most straightforward of garments to wash at home, it’s not difficult to do so – all it takes is a little extra care and attention to keep those clothes looking great.

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