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02-08-2021 | Marcel van Herten

How to clean your cycling clothes on the road

You know the drill. You're on the road with your bike. Whether it's a family vacation, a trip with your cycling buddies or that gran fondo you've been looking forward to all season. Of course you want to shine and pop on that iconic climb in your finest outfit. But after a day of working yourself into a sweat, it's often noticeable by the salt on your shirt and/or pants. The idea "it can last another day" (the so-called men's wash) is often not appreciated by family, travel companions and cycling buddies..

CycloWorld collected 5 basic tips & tricks (T&T) and a few handy things to keep you fresh on your bike during your vacation, bike packing adventure, stage race or gran fondo.

T&T #1 | The Washing Machine

Washers on campsites are often clunky, old appliances. So do a test wash with your beach towel or some less delicate garments before you throw in your best kit.

Check carefully that the temperature matches the care label on your clothes. Different elastic materials are sensitive to high temperatures. Better to wash them a little too cold. If your campsite or hotel doesn't have a washing machine, just Google for a local launderette (lavarie in French, lavanderia in Italian) or a supermarket or petrol station which often have modern washing machines (especially in Belgium and France). If you have your own tent, trailer or caravan, there are many small and affordable mini-washers on the market (price 50 to 100€) that will perfectly clean a set of cycling clothes.

T&T #2 | The shower method

An old and proven method and, in the context of "making work-with-work", nicely efficient. Taking your cycling clothes into the shower. Don't bring detergent, the shampoo will do just as well or even better. Don't exaggerate in order to avoid that you spend too much time rinsing. And if you're on a cycling trip and sleep in hotels, a new fragrance every day - also fun!

T&T #3 | The old-fashioned handiwork

The sink of the hotel room or at the campsite is the place for the old-fashioned hand work. Bit of liquid detergent from the tube (or shampoo, see T&T #2) and rinse away. If you don't have a wash/rinser at your disposal: you can also wash and soak clothes in a (waterproof!) pannier or drybag.

T&T #4 | The Hair Dryer

An indispensable attribute during your cycling adventure is the hair dryer. Obviously to make sure that after your ride you'll look completely dressed again, but also to dry all kinds of clothing, from shoes to arm and leg warmers. Most hotels have a hair dryer in the bathroom and otherwise a small travel hair dryer will do just as well. Tip: take a elastic band with you to fix the hair dryer on your still wet clothes. Pay attention! Although most hairdryers stop automatically when they get too hot, there is a risk of smouldering, scorching and burning, so take care (especially when drying shoes).

T&T #5 | Use & Lose

Maybe not the most sustainable option: take one or more old kits that are ripe for scrapping anyway. Wear them once and get rid of them! Everyone has at least one pair bibs, jersey or socks that is actually done. Take them with you on vacation. If you choose the use & lose option: make sure you dispose of them properly.

A few more practical things:

  • Always turn your cycling clothes inside out; this is the best way to wash out all salt and sweat residue. This is also a good way to clean the chamois, which is a breeding ground for bacteria. If your clothing is dirty with sand and/or mud, first rinse it, then spin it.
  • Can't wash it directly? Make sure you let your cycling clothes dry and air them out. Most musty smells disappear after some fresh air.
  • Dry your cycling clothes on the clothes-line. Make sure they are NOT hanging in direct sunlight, this is less good for the fabric.
  • If you are on vacation with the tent, store your clothes in a plastic bag or crate. This will prevent wet clothes during a heavy downpour.
  • Want to play it safe at T&T #1? Stick a small-scale oven thermometer on the inside of the washing machine window with some tape. That way you can be sure the temperature is right.

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