How to refresh your motorcycle helmet

Freshening up your helmet is easy and makes it much more pleasant

Shoei helmet with cleaning product sprayed on

by Jim Blackstock |

It doesn’t take long for a helmet to get sweaty and start to hum a little. Even the shortest hot-weather runs can lead to a sweaty head and on longer trips, multiple stints in the helmet can create unpleasant aromas and make the most important bit of your riding kit an unwelcoming place to be.

But freshening it up is not a difficult process. It takes an hour or two, plus drying time for some of the components, so over a weekend, you can easily bring your lid back up to fresh, new spec ready for the next round of commuting or long multi-day tours.

Here’s how to bring your smelly lid back to life.

Step 1:

Use wet kitchen towel to soak off insect debris
©Photo: Bauer Media

Just about the hardest thing to get off a helmet is roadkill; dried-on insect remains are notoriously difficult. The ideal start point is to lay a water-soaked kitchen roll over the helmet and leave the moisture to soak into the remains of the bugs

Step 2:

Gently remove the grime with the wet kitchen towel
©Photo: Bauer Media

After a while (you will have to judge that yourself – anywhere from a few minutes to longer, depending on how long the bugs have been on there), use the still-damp kitchen roll to gently wipe the worst of the remains off

Step 3:

Wiping the visor with a clean soft cloth
©Photo: Bauer Media

Then use a soft, damp cloth to carefully remove the rest of the moisture and let it dry. It isn’t clean yet but the worst of the debris is off

Step 4:

Applying motorcycle helmet cleaner
©Photo: Bauer Media

Now use a proprietary helmet cleaner to clean the shell of the helmet. These are designed for the job and won’t harm the material. Spray it onto the helmet’s shell directly

Step 5:

Cleaning a helmet with a microfibre cloth
©Photo: Bauer Media

Use a clean microfibre cloth to firstly remove the road film and dirt and, once gone, reverse the cloth or use another to polish the shell clean

Step 6:

Applying cleaner to the helmet visor
©Photo: Bauer Media

Most products will also clean the visor. Do this after the shell, as overspray from the shell can get on the visor. Again, spray directly onto the visor, wipe off the dirt, then...

Step 7:

Polishing a helmet visor with a microfibre cloth
©Photo: Bauer Media

...finally polish the product off the visor for a sparkling finish

Step 8:

Helmet after outside has been cleaned
©Photo: Bauer Media

And that’s the outside of the helmet done

Step 9:

Remove the helmet visor to clean the inside
©Photo: Bauer Media

Before turning to the interior, remove the visor so you can clean the inside. On this Shoei, the catch slides down to release the ends of the visor

Step 10:

When released, the visor catches twist slightly and release, so the visor itself can be removed

Step 11:

Rest visor on soft surface to clean the interior
©Photo: Bauer Media

With the visor resting on a soft surface, clean the inside of the Pinlock insert with a soft cloth. You don’t need any products – just a soft cloth

Step 12:

Ready to work on motorcycle helmet interior
©Photo: Bauer Media

Now it’s time to turn to the interior

Step 13:

Tea towel used to create helmet stand
©Photo: Bauer Media

If you don’t have a proper helmet stand to hold it securely while you work on it, you can use a rolled-up towel to protect it and hold it steady

Step 14:

Removing helmet interior
©Photo: Bauer Media

Start by removing the chin curtain if it is removable, like this one. Pull the rearmost tabs out from between the outer shell and the lining

Step 15:

Removing motorcycle helmet chin curtain
©Photo: Bauer Media

The remove the complete chin curtain. Like this helmet, you may need to release it from under the rubber lip around the bottom edge of the shell

Step 16:

Applying antibacterial helmet spray
©Photo: Bauer Media

If you cleaned the helmet recently, then you may decide that a quick blast with an anti-bacterial freshening spray onto the inside of the comfort lining is enough. If so, spray it on and let it dry

Step 17:

Removing the helmet interior padding
©Photo: Bauer Media

If, however, you are doing a full clean and freshen, then you need to remove the interior. Start by releasing the cheek pads. On this helmet, three poppers are holding the side of the helmet

Step 18:

Helmet interior padding removal
©Photo: Bauer Media

Having released the three poppers, you can gently remove the chin-strap from the pads (they may pass through a hole or a cut-out, like here)

Step 19:

A red tab usually means a quick-release system
©Photo: Bauer Media

The red straps indicate this helmet has quick-release cheek pads, to make it easier to safely remove in the event of an accident. With the centre poppers released, pull the front of the cheek pad away from the helmet

Step 20:

Unclipping the rear of a helmet cheek pad
©Photo: Bauer Media

Do the same at the rear and the cheek pad should come out completely

Step 21:

Removing main helmet liner
©Photo: Bauer Media

Now the mainliner. This will generally be secured by poppers at the rear against the EPS impact-absorbing liner. Release both poppers

Step 22:

release liner clips at the top of visor opening
©Photo: Bauer Media

The liner will be secured to the front of the shell as well, at the top of the visor aperture. Release the clips from here as well, then remove the lining completely

Step 23:

Motorcycle helmet with liner removed
©Photo: Bauer Media

What you should now be left with is the main shell of the helmet with the EPS liner in place with the comfort lining and the two check-pads removed from the helmet

Step 24:

Laundry detergent in a sink
©Photo: Bauer Media

Now add a little laundry detergent to a sink, to clean the lining and cheek pads

Step 25:

Add warm but not hot water
©Photo: Bauer Media

Run-in warm – but not hot – water to dissolve the detergent. Don’t make the mixture too strong – it isn’t washing mud-stained rugby kit, after all

Step 26:

Washing helmet lining in warm, soapy water
©Photo: Bauer Media

Wash each piece in the warm soapy water. Don’t be too aggressive with the material and the foam – just enough to thoroughly wash it

Step 27:

Rinse in cold water
©Photo: Bauer Media

Once you’re happy each part is clean, rinse them with cold water

Step 28:

Leave to dry at room temperature
©Photo: Bauer Media

After squeezing out excess water (again be careful with the plastic fittings and cover material), lay them out somewhere to dry at room temperature. Don’t use hair dryers or put them on radiators – just at room temperature

Step 29:

Give the drop-down sun visor a clean if you have one
©Photo: Bauer Media

The penultimate task, before reassembling the helmet (which in the finest tradition, is the reverse of removal) is to give the drop-down sun visor, if present, a wipe with a dry cloth

Step 30:

Reassembled, refreshed helmet is good as new
©Photo: Bauer Media

With the helmet reassembled, the last job is to treat the visor with a water repellent and you’re good to go

Related products:

What to read next:

Best summer motorcycle gloves

Best motorcycle tyre warmers

MCN's favourite helmets

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us