Cycling jerseys and bib shorts absorb a tremendous amount of sweat over their lifetimes, and even with regular laundering all that sweat can eventually lead to an unpleasant odor that remains in the fabric. Keeping your cycling clothing looking and smelling great isn’t difficult, but it does require a little more effort than simply emptying the contents of your smelly clothes hamper into the washer once per week. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks over the years that have helped to keep my cycling apparel smelling clean and fresh, and I’d like to pass that information on in this morning’s blog…
The ideal method is to remove your cycling clothing immediately after a ride and launder it straight away. For 99% of us that’s not practical from a time or economic standpoint, so this article will focus on a more realistic once per week laundry day.
1) The first line of defense against odor is to remove your cycling clothing as soon as possible after a ride, and then hang your kit up to dry out. If you toss your wet, smelly clothes into a dark hamper and let them fester until laundry day, you are definitely going to have odor issues. Allowing the fabric to dry out before putting it in the hamper really helps (and it doesn’t take long).
2) Never, ever wear a dirty kit. That’s just nasty, and you will smell. No one wants to behind someone in a paceline that stinks of day-old sweat. Just don’t do it.
3) When it’s time to wash your cycling clothing, I recommend that you wash only your cycling apparel in that load. Almost all cycling clothing has the same general wash instructions:
– Cold wash / cold rinse
– Gentle cycle
– Never use fabric softener
– Turn your bib shorts inside out
– Zip up your jersey zippers
– Velcro straps should be placed together
Front load washers tend to be more gentle that top loaders, and will extend the life of your cycling clothing. I have a front loader, and I’ve found that the “Gentle” cycle doesn’t quite get the job done. I use the “Normal” cycle, and have had very good results with that.
4) For laundry detergent we all have our own favorite, and whatever you prefer is probably fine. Personally I use Penguin Sport Wash, and it’s the best stuff around (and I’ve tried just about everything). I highly recommend it.
5) Okay, so now for the “secret” odor-fighting tip that many people don’t know about: distilled white vinegar. Vinegar is very inexpensive, and it really works (don’t worry, your clothes will not smell like vinegar). I simply add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle (I put it in the fabric softener dispenser), and that’s all there is to it. Do not add the vinegar to the wash cycle: vinegar is an acid and it will neutralize the laundry detergent, which is a base.
6) If your cycling clothes already have a “baked in” odor, you may want to soak them in a mixture of warm water and distilled white vinegar overnight. Then, launder as described above. If your stuff still smells after all of that, do your fellow cyclists a favor and burn them.
7) Finally, you’ll want to hang dry all of your cycling clothing. Dryers will not only ruin most sport fabrics, they will sort of bake in any odor that is present.
I hope these tips help. Happy, odor-free riding!