While you might not have considered it, it’s pretty important to keep your motorcycle helmet as clean as possible, for your own comfort if nothing else. That’s why it’s always a good idea to clean the inside of your helmet in particular; if you wear it for too long without cleaning it, it’ll start getting really funky and stinky on the inside.
This makes sense, of course, considering the fact that the inside of your helmet is often in prolonged contact with your skin. This causes sweat and skin oils to transfer to your helmet’s interior lining, which can make your helmet pretty unpleasant to wear after enough time has passed.
Cleaning your helmet exterior is less important for your personal comfort and more important if you just want your helmet to look nice. Over time, you’ll likely find that dead bugs, road dirt, and other ‘stuff’ will start building up on your helmet, and the longer you leave it on, the harder it will be to remove it later.
Cleaning both the outside and inside of your helmet will also help to keep it in good, safe condition for longer. Today, we’ll be talking all about the cleaning process for the outside and inside of your motorcycle helmet, and we’ll also go over how to properly store your helmet when you’re not using it.
First, let’s go over how to clean the outside of your helmet. Depending on how dirty your helmet is, you might want to consider doing either a quick wipe-down or a real deep cleaning. We’ll explain how to do both.
Quick Wipe Down for Your Motorcycle Helmet
As you can probably expect, wiping down a motorcycle helmet is pretty easy and doesn’t take very long. If you can, this is something you should do after every time you wear your helmet for a period of time like after a long ride or a dusty one.
Quick wipe downs will make the bigger motorcycle helmet cleaning sessions quicker.
If there are any bits that are really stuck to the outside of your helmet, you can start by loosening the grime by taking a damp paper towel or soft cloth and draping it over the helmet.
Clean, plain water is all you need for this most of the time, especially for a quick wipe down.
You just let the damp cloth sit in place for about 10 minutes. Then take another clean, dry, soft cloth to wipe off all the gunk when it loosens up.
You can use a cleaning product, but I tend to stick to full on products when I’m doing a bigger clean.
Quick tip here: Special plastic cleaners are an option, and you can usually use clean and polish the shell with wax EXCEPT on the any ventilation sliders or helmets with a matte finish.
For those exceptions, you’ll just want to use a mild detergent for those exceptions. Some use baby shampoo as a gentle soap.
In most cases, though, you don’t need anything other than just water to wipe down a motorcycle helmet.
Be extra careful wiping the helmet visor. The visor is more likely to scratch and would impact your vision, so a non-abrasive cloth like a microfiber cloth is definitely a good idea here.
Deep Cleaning Your Motorcycle Helmet Shell
Now, let’s get into how to do a deep clean of your motorcycle helmet’s exterior.
What You Need to Clean Your Helmet
You will want to gather the following to get started cleaning your helmet.
- Microfiber rags
- A toothbrush with soft bristles
- A motorcycle helmet cleaning product (more down below)
- A source of compressed air
- Cotton swab
- Lukewarm water
What Cleaner Should You Use to Clean the Motorcycle Helmet Shell?
This was touched on above, but there are many types of plastics. Some are more likely to absorb things that soak the surface than others.
You need to avoid cleaners that are acidic or “alkali-based corrosive cleaning agents”. I’m not a chemist, but what stuck out to me is to NOT use a cleaner like a window cleaner.
In addition, the finish of your helmet comes into play. For example, you can use a wax on helmets that DO NOT have a matte finish.
In general, the safest cleaner to clean your motorcycle helmet is water with or without a mild soap.
Remove Electronic Components
Once you’ve gathered what you need, start by removing all of the electronic accessories attached to the helmet, if there are any. These include any microphones, Bluetooth communicators, or antennas that you might have installed on your helmet along the way. Electronics don’t like water!
Remove the Visor (aka Shield)
Then you’ll want to remove the visor if you are able. If your shield isn’t able to be removed, that’s fine. Your neutral cleaner is ok for those pieces. It is just easier to clean with everything out of your way.
How to Remove the Motorcycle Helmet Liner
Next, you should remove your helmet’s interior lining, if you can. This will make it easier to clean the helmet as a whole.
Most helmets have removable liners, but if you can’t remove the interior lining, then don’t worry about it. Just skip the next section & just bear in mind that this will probably result in longer drying times for the lining.
Clean the Exterior of Your Motorcycle Helmet
When your helmet is all ready to be cleaned, start by laying a damp cloth over it, as you would if you were just giving it a quick wipe.
If you want to make sure that all the crud on the outside of the helmet is softened and dislodged, you can just leave the wet cloth on the helmet and move onto cleaning the interior lining in the meantime. Just come back to this step when the liner is drying.
Do a quick wipe down to dust off the loose bits on the helmet & prevent scratching.
If you’re having trouble removing dirt already from any of your helmet’s nooks and crannies, this is where your toothbrush comes in.
If there’s anything stuck in your helmet’s vents or channels, compressed air can help remove it, too. One of those cans or your garage air compressor. Just be careful as you don’t want to damage the helmet with too much pressure!
Another option for the nooks and crannies is to use a cotton swab like the around visor mechanisms and vents – particularly if the toothbrush didn’t quite clean the way you hoped, too.
Now, to clean the face shield. Most motorcycle face shields these days are treated with some kind of anti-UV coating and using a cleaning product on the face shield can strip this coating off.
For this reason, this is the spot that you should only ever use warm water when cleaning your helmet’s face shield.
Once I’ve cleaned the face shield, I’ll also refresh anti-fog coating on my visor, but follow the instructions of what you use. Take extra care with that visor!
Cleaning the Inside of Your Helmet
There are a couple of ways you can clean the inside of your helmet, depending on if the interior lining is removable or not. Let’s take a look at both of these ways.
If your interior lining, cheek pads & such can be removed, the best way to clean it is to put it in a mesh garment bag and then wash it in your washing machine using the delicate cycle using a very mild detergent like Woolite (that you may already have at home).
Again, anything you use should be gentle, including the laundry detergent you use.
When the lining is done washing, take it out of the machine right away and let it air dry.
If you want it to dry a little faster, I like to point a fan at it. This will keep it from smelling sour & speed up the time to when you can use it. Get to ride faster!
Do not dry your helmet lining in the dryer or with a hairdryer; the heat generated by both of these appliances can melt the glue that holds the lining together & you may break down the foam padding faster.
If you can’t remove the lining of your helmet, or you can only remove some parts of it, start by taking off whatever you can. Then, grab a bucket of warm, soapy water, and start scrubbing the interior of the helmet liner.
To keep things simple, just work on one section of the lining at a time.
Next, you’ll want to get the soap out of the lining. To do so, get a fresh bowl of clean, warm water, and scrub out all the sections of the helmet again. Don’t worry about really soaking the helmet during this step; it will dry eventually, and the important thing is to make sure that all the soap is removed.
To dry your helmet, get some dry cloths or towels and press them against the lining until no more excess water comes out. It will probably still be a bit damp at this point, so leave your helmet in front of a fan to finish drying.
The fan is super important to me if I’m hand washing a liner that can’t be removed because a super wet helmet liner takes longer to dry overall, and I don’t want to run the risk of it smelling badly if it takes too long to dry!
How to Store Your Motorcycle Helmet
Storing your helmet in the right place can help it last longer as well. If you store your helmet improperly, you might end up damaging the padding or scratching it. If you want your helmet to remain comfortable and good-looking, take care of it!
Some good places to store a motorcycle helmet include a helmet bag, a helmet rack, and a storage cabinet, among others. If you want portable storage options, a helmet bag is probably your best bet. However, something like a storage cabinet might offer you more security.
No matter what, just don’t store a helmet in direct sunlight. The heat & rays run the risk of making the helmet components wear down and NOT PROTECT YOU PROPERLY.
You should also take care to avoid storing your helmet in the following places:
- Don’t store your helmet on something relatively skinny, like a nail in the wall or your bike’s handlebars, as this can compress the padding in weird ways and potentially damage it.
- Don’t store your helmet near a heat source, as this can damage the glue in the lining.
- Don’t store your helmet upside down, as this can easily scratch it.
- Don’t store your helmet on the ground or anywhere where animals can potentially get into it.
Keep Your Helmet Clean
You can always keep your helmet cleaner by storing it well. Read here for ways to store your motorcycle helmet to keep it safe & clean.
Did you know motorcycle helmets can ‘go bad’? That’s relative when compared to milk, but they do become less effective if neglected, kicked around, or just through aging. Read here for how to know when to replace your motorcycle helmet.