Using Baby Shampoo to Wash Smelly Motorcycle Helmets

Okay, so this is going to sound pretty self-deprecating. My old helmet stank. You know? The one that got liberated on the college campus two weeks ago? Yeah. It really must’ve smelled awful, because my new one WSB Beanie smells amazing. I mean, it stands to reason, we sweat when we ride and our heads simply can’t get that much ventilation, so we end up with the cranial version of swamp ass … except we wash out clothes and leave the smell to fester in our helmets. That got me thinking that a fellow could wash his helmet out pretty easily and not tear up the liner and not smell years of sweat and grime every time he plopped the lid on his head.

My ex-wife used to accuse me of not paying very good attention, so it must be true.

Anyhow, I did a random sampling of helmets this week, and 7 out of 10 of you have smelly helmets. Even you bald guys…

So what’s a rider to do? Wash the damn thing! I never thought about it before, but in the name of science, I grabbed an old helmet from the back of the garage – a full face one, if that let’s you date it, and went to work. Some of the lining snaps out, put a lot of it is pretty stuck in, so I scoured up some Johnson and Johnson Baby shampoo, figuring that it would be easier on the lining, and went to work. The cheekpieces and such that just snapped out, I put in the washing machine and ran through on a “delicate” cycle (pun intended!) and they came out great and air-dried them with the rest of the helmet when I was done.

For the rest of the helmet, I filled up a tub of warm water and added in the shampoo, then submerged the helmet in it. Squished soap around in the lining and agitated it for about five minutes – just like hair – then I rinsed it out. And rinsed it out. And rinsed it out again. (Where the Hell are all these bubbles coming from?)

Finally, I got all the shampoo residue out of the helmet and wrung out all the water that I could and then set the helmet on the back porch to dry in the sun. It actually seemed to dry faster with the lining down – no doubt because gravity was drawing some water down out of the helmet and the heat was forcing some evaporation inside the helmet which went out through the vents.

The end result? This thing smells amazing! It pretty much took all day to dry, but for those of you who are trying to “weather” another summer with a rancid beanie on and using all the same old tricks – bandanas, wraps, baldness, etc… – this is a great way to easily take care of a piece of gear we all have to have and never really notice.

Now, I need to see how many miles I can put on the new beanie before it needs to get the oil changed.

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