When was the last time you washed your bike helmet, your bike shoes, and your running shoes? If you have been wearing them, and haven’t done so in the past few months, they probably stink. If you can’t smell it, ask someone else to, then look at their face…the truth comes without words being spoken.
HELMET: Are the straps white with salt deposits, and are the little pads slippery from sunscreen and hair product, and is the outside stained with grime? I rinse my Rudy Project Helmet after almost every ride. It is 7 years old and looks brand new still.
TO WASH: Turn on your kitchen sink and let the water run luke warm. Run the water on the helmet, the pads and the strap. Then take about a tablespoon of shampoo, dish soap, liquid hand soap, or liquid laundry detergent, and rub it between your hands and finger and then apply it to all the surfaces that absorb water. Rinse it thoroughly, shake it to get excess water out, and put it in the sun to dry. Wipe the outside with a cotton towel. Stay away from stronger detergents, as any residual that is not rinsed will run into your eyes when you sweat in it again.
RUNNING SHOES: I train with socks in training shoes and race without socks for anything Olympic distance or shorter. I always wear socks in longer races. A lot of my training is on the beach and if the tide is high, my shoes get wet, very wet with salt water (live is tough in La Jolla, CA). So I wash them a lot.
TO WASH: Machine wash them in cold water with some laundry detergent. I wash 4 or 5 pair at a time. When they are done in the spin cycle, immediately put them in the sun or dry-room to dry. Believe it or not most quality running shoes can withstand about 20-30 washes. The last, midsole and outsole these days glued so well, that they can withstand this sort of care. For most of us that is about a wash every couple of weeks before it is time to replace the shoes anyway.
BIKE SHOES: I still don’t understand people who always ride without socks. To do so every now and then to simulate a race, is okay, but not all the time. I learned that bike shoes are a lot more resilient if you wear socks. I have a pair of SIDI Triathlon shoes that I have rinsed and washed with, believe it or not, regular shampoo over 50 times and they are still in good condition.
TO WASH: Best is to use the sink again, room temp water, and mild detergent and an old toothbrush. Shampoo works too. Wet the shoes, clean as needed, towel dry as much as possible, then set in the sun just long enough to dry. If the shoes have leather, saddle soap works well to preserve the softness.
The cleaning tips above will not only keep your gear smelling and looking better, they will also reduce the likelihood of acne, cysts, and other forms of dermatitis, infection in the eyes and ears, as well as promote healthier feet, toes, and toe nails.
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In health and happiness, Emilio De Soto II