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.
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
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
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
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
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
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...
...finally polish the product off the visor for a sparkling finish
And that’s the outside of the helmet done
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
When released, the visor catches twist slightly and release, so the visor itself can be removed
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
Now it’s time to turn to the interior
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
Do the same at the rear and the cheek pad should come out completely
Now the mainliner. This will generally be secured by poppers at the rear against the EPS impact-absorbing liner. Release both poppers
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
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
Now add a little laundry detergent to a sink, to clean the lining and cheek pads
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
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
Once you’re happy each part is clean, rinse them with cold water
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
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
With the helmet reassembled, the last job is to treat the visor with a water repellent and you’re good to go