Why Does My Helmet Stink?

POSTED BY Andrew Kass||

A stinky helmet is an incredibly common problem. Some people seem to never experience this probably, no matter how sweaty they get. They can just grab their helmet and go, and never experience the gross odors that can be associated with a stinky helmet. But for others of us, stinky helmets are a frequent occurrence.

Stinky Helmet

If you are wondering why your helmet stinks and if there is anything you can do about it, read on!

Bicycle helmets are worn during times of exertion, and when we exercise and move our bodies, we sweat. Our bodies are covered in pores, and this includes our scalp. Most of us have noticed that our hair is practically wet after a long ride. Helmets do little to help this, as air flow is extremely limited. This means that perspiration remains trapped between the scalp and the helmet when you are riding.

The problem continues when the ride is over. You take your helmet and gear off and proceed to take a shower. You do this for good reason: you are sweaty and stinky. In addition to cleansing your body in the shower, you toss your apparel in the washer. But all too often, your helmet is ignored. The funk that has built up during your ride dries on the interior of the helmet. Once or twice is no big deal, but each time you do this, the odor gets a bit worse.

Before long, you dread the smell that comes when you remove your helmet. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ease the odors associate with “helmet funk.”

How Can I Fix a Stinky Helmet?

To freshen a smelly helmet, start with a mild detergent (like Dawn) and a bowl or sink of warm water. You do not want to submerge your helmet as it can damage the lining. Instead, dampen a soft rag and begin working over both the interior and exterior of your helmet. Wipe down all the surfaces, beginning with the interior. Then, with a dry soft rag, dry the helmet. Don’t neglect the strap, as it often bears a lot of the foul odor.

Freshen your helmet regularly, at least once a week if you ride regularly.

If the problem continues, you have two options: you can try washing it as noted above, but instead of using detergent, use an antibacterial soap. If you continue to notice odors, there are deodorizing sprays that are meant for smelly helmets. Just remember – do not use cleaning air fresheners as they are not meant to be applied to the sensitive material of your helmet. Residues from those fresheners can dry on your helmet and sting your eyes the next time you begin to perspire.

Fear not – stinky helmet is a normal condition that is a hassle of many a cyclist. But it’s one that is easily overcome with regular cleaning.