Kits are expensive, and you’ll want to make sure they last as well as look and smell good. But one of the most destructive things to the technical fabric used in cycling kits is improper laundering. You should always read the care instructions on your clothing but here are some basic washing tips to limit wear, fight odors and keep your kit looking sharp.
1. Hose it down/ pre-rinse
If you’ve just finished a cross race, muddy mountain bike ride or just a filthy wet road ride and you’re covered in grime, hose your kit down along with your bike, shoes and socks. When you take off the dirty items, be sure to face the dirty side out and untangle your socks and knee or arm warmers. Give it a good hose down before washing it.
2. If you’re not washing your kit immediately, hang it up
Whether your ride was wet or dry, don’t come home and just toss your kit in the hamper where they’ll remain sweaty and balled up until laundry day. Stains and odor-causing bacteria love to fester in moist, dirty laundry. So, even if you won’t wash it right away, air it out. Hang it up outside or in your laundry room until you have a chance to wash it. With that said, the sooner you wash it, the better.
3. Avoid smelly kit, wash after every use
This one is a debated topic. Some say that the more you wash your garments, the faster they’ll wear out and therefore if you went for only a short ride, you should be able to wear the kit again.
Even if your sweat has evaporated by the time you get home, bacteria is still going to be present. Wearing that kit again could bring forth that awful old sweat smell.
Additionally, dirty chamois can lead to chafing and saddle sores. So do yourself and your riding mates a favour and wash before wearing. Or, at the every least, sniff your kit before you leave the house.
4. Velcro is evil
Nothing will destroy technical fabrics faster than Velcro! The sticky side will fray and ruin just about anything it touches. Keep them separate or better yet, handwash anything with Velcro individually.
5. Zip up jerseys and turn bibs inside out
Zippers can get tangled up, caught in the washing machine or damage other clothing. Simply zip up anything with a zipper to avoid damage.
Bottoms with chamois should be turned inside out for a good clean.
6. A note about detergents and softeners
Either use detergent specifically made for technical, high performance materials or keep it as simple as possible: no parfumes, no dyes, no bleach, no softeners.
To keep white white: Soak before washing. And try using white vinegar or oxyclean.
Do not use fabric softener as it strips the apparel of any treatment of the fabric like water repellent, windproofness and wicking.
7. Cold, gentle cycle
Wash your kit only with other technical fabrics and use the gentle cycle with a cold wash and rinse.
8. Avoid the dryer
Heat can cause shrinkage, damage materials and ‘bake in’ odors. Best to avoid the dryer altogether and hang your kit to dry. Technical fabric dries quickly so you won’t be waiting long.
If you must use a dryer, be sure to set it to low heat and do not any dryer sheets.