How To Clean And Maintain Helmets
Ever been to a track and wear one of those borrowed helmets? Remember how they smell? Does your helmet smell the same? Like something out of the gruesome underbelly of Gotham city? Cleaning your helmet on a regular basis keeps it from becoming incubator of god-awful organisms, oil and sweat. And cleaning is only one of the steps that are part of your maintenance kit. Minor steps can make sure that you don’t have to part with your polystyrene mate sooner than you want.
1. Don’t dump your helmet:
After the ride, don’t just abandon your savior. We don’t expect you to cuddle with your helmet or anything. All you need to do is keep it some place open and airy where it would dry naturally. Shutting it in a closed space will not allow time for the sweat to dry completely from the inner liner. This mold that grows on such surfaces makes for an icky resting ground for your head!
2. Don’t shove your gloves inside the helmet:
Riding is a dirty job as it is. The riding gear collects all kinds of debris and bodily fluids on to it. Squashing such gloves into already sweaty interiors of the helmet makes it more vulnerable to foreign substances. Considering the amount of time your face spends close to such stuff, think whether you want to risk it.
5. A tumble doesn’t breakth a helmet:
Just because your lid took a fall doesn’t mean you will have to get it replaced. Brands like Arai and Bell do a free helmet inspection to see if your helmet still meets the safety standards laid down upon manufacturing.
3. Don’t sling the helmet around:
It is all too cool to just swing along the helmet by its chinbar and walk over to chitchat with your homies and what-not. But those few moments of unsuited coolness are actually costing you the integrity of your chinbar. Also the casual nudging of helmet on lampposts or desks along the way eats away the strength of the inner shell. Carry your helmet in a helmet bag which can be easily bought online.
4. Change your helmet periodically:
Your helmet may look squeaky clean on the outside after, say, 5 years. Don’t let that fool you. Most helmets need to be changed after 5 years, even DOT approved ones. The liner of the helmet is made of Styrofoam like substance that compresses over time. At impact, there are empty micropockets in this material to which the solid retreats to absorb the energy. However, post compression, the impact absorption reduces exponentially. Besides, who wants to show up with the same lid for more than 5 years in a row?
Following these pointers and praying that your helmet won’t emit copious amounts of stinky fumes is not going to do the job. Clean the helmet inside-out at least couple of times a year based on how filthy you feel it is. Do not let your compulsive cleaning disorder get the better of you either. Excessive water can compress the inner liner pretty fast and form micro abrasions on the outer surface. Here’s how the helmet spring cleaning works:
1. Strip it down:
You heard right. Remove anything and everything that is detachable from the helmet. Refer to the guide or if it found its way to the dustbin, call up the customer support for the brand and ask for help. Don’t be too harsh with the stripping. If you feel uneasy about giving some part a mighty pull, it would be better not to. In most of the helmets, the visor, breath box and inner liners will come off. Spread out the parts in one place over towels.
2. Outer surface cleaning:
The more chic helmets come with enviable graphics that hold a special place in your house of glamour. So make sure you treat them with love. Abrasive cleaners are a big no no. Use a microfiber cloth and some baby shampoo to clean the outer surface. Wash off the soap completely with lukewarm water. The vents can be cleaned with a soft toothbrush or cotton earbuds. There are scratch removers available in the market to remove minor defects. Major gouges will remain the eyesore that they are. Visors are extremely fragile and get scratched/damaged easily. Try to clean them with fingers as much as possible.
3. Removable padding:
If the cheek pads and the comfort liner are removable on account of Velcro or pop buttons then put the whole lot into your washing machine on a delicate cycle. Do not put them in the drier or you might as well order a new helmet. Let them dry naturally in an airy place.
4. Non-removable padding and interiors:
Some helmets unfortunately come with non-removable comfort liners. Find a sink or tub big enough hold the helmet and fill it with lukewarm water. Soak the helmet in the water and scrub off the initial grime with your hands. Add some pH neutral baby shampoo like Johnson’s to a tub of clean water and soak the helmet. Gently rub the sweat and oil out of the inner layer with your hands. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove soap suds completely. Any residual soap is bound to cause irritation or dandruff later. Air-dry the bad boy naturally. Soak out the droplets of water on any surface with earbuds.
Lubricate any moving parts like visor snaps or detachable chinbar snaps.
6. Re-assemble and polish:
Attach the removed accessories carefully. Ensure that crucial parts like visor are carefully attached. Seek help from the manual for re-assembly. A polish suggested by the manufacturer can be used to polish the surface of the helmet to a shiny new avatar.
Grandma’s minor tricks like these will make sure her baby boy or girl keeps a shiny lid on their pretty head.