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Managing the Summer Sweat Problem

There’s nothing quite like heading out on a bike ride on a crisp winter day – beautiful scenery, an invigorating ride and, most importantly, you’re as fresh when you arrive home as you were when you left! In summer, it’s a different story! Most of us struggle to manage the dreaded β€˜summer sweat problem’, and it can make riding during those sticky, humid months more of a chore than an adventure.

So, how can we reduce sweating on the bike, and ensure our clothes stay clean and fresh?

Sweaty Back Cycling

Washing & Drying Cycle Clothing

Of course, the best way to banish the stains and smells is to wash, dry, and care for your clothes well, but when it comes to cycle clothing we do need to be careful and give the garments a little extra care and attention. Fabric conditioners, for example, are a great way to make your clothes smell fresh, but they shouldn’t be used on quick-dry clothing as it can affect the fabric’s ability to absorb moisture. You should also pay close attention to laundry symbols to make sure you’re not doing anything to damage the clothing.

  • Washing Temperature Laundry Symbols

Before popping your cycle clothes in the wash, check what temperature the manufacturer recommends washing at. While most everyday cottons can withstand relatively high temperatures of between 40 and 60 degrees, some types of cycle clothing – waterproof gear, for example – should ideally be washed at lower temperatures. Mountain Warehouse recommend that their waterproof garments are washed at 30 degrees to protect the chemical coating. The label on your clothing should clearly show what temperature the item can be washed at – look for a number followed by β€˜c’ for Celsius, or the degree symbol (β€˜Β°’). Don’t worry if you need to wash at lower temperatures than you’re used to – most laundry detergents today are made to work well at 30 degrees, even powders!

  • Tumble Drying Laundry Symbols

Symbols relating to tumble drying are depicted as a square with a circle inside – it looks a bit like a simplistic drawing of a real tumble dryer. Checking for these symbols is vital, as some of the most common types of cycling clothes are made from materials that shouldn’t be tumble dried – merino wool, for example. Merino wool absorbs sweat, but tends to have lasting, lingering smells. Fortunately, it’s simple to wash, but as it’s a wool blend it can shrink in the dryer which affects your back coverage when you’re out on the bike. The tumble dryer symbol will feature a cross through it if the clothing cannot be dried. Instead, dry the clothing naturally outdoors – the sun may even be strong enough to provide a bit of a natural bleaching effect to remove any stubborn sweat stains.

Drying Shoes

Minimising the Sweat Problem

On the rare days that the great British weather peaks at a balmy 20 degrees Celsius (21 if we’re lucky!), it can be mission impossible to completely prevent yourself from sweating during your bike ride. However, there are ways to help minimise that annoying summer sweat problem, even in high heats. Remember to wear lightweight, breathable fabrics that are designed to draw moisture away from the skin – your cycle clothes might end up a bit smelly, but the important part is that you’ll remain pretty dry and odour-free. Cottons, ultra-fine merino wools, and polypropylene clothing are ideal for the summer, and some are even odour and stain resistant, too.

With these tips, you won’t have to worry about dealing with dirty kit – and who knows, summer might even become your favourite season for cycling!

How do you avoid profuse sweating when cycling in the summer months? Comment below.

Pete Reynolds


1. πŸͺ–Fend ONE Folding Helmet
A folding helmet that actually looks good.

2. πŸ§₯Helly Hansen Hooded Rain Jacket
Stay dry in style.

3. 🧴Muc-Off Ultimate Bicycle Cleaning Kit
Keep your bike feeling brand new.

4. πŸ‘–DUER-All Weather Jeans
Waterproof cycling jeans. Seriously.

5. πŸŽ’Rapha Reflective Backpack
A beautiful backpack that you can't miss.

Pete Reynolds

Pete is the co-founder and editor of Discerning Cyclist. He commutes by bike daily from his home to his co-working space. Originally from Wirral, UK, Pete now lives in Spain. When visiting a new city, Pete loves nothing more than to explore it on two wheels. See Pete's Muck Rack profile

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