Laurent Jalabert aboard a 1999 Giant TCR. Image: Giant.


How To: Caring For Your Cycling Kit

Many of us spend many hundreds of dollars on cycling kit, but there’s not a lot written about caring for it. Not until now, as Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner explains.

I believe it’s as important to look good on the bike as it is to keep your bike in perfect condition.

Being the proud owner of literally hundreds of items of cycling kit, people often ask me about caring for and cleaning kit.

Yes, there are several tricks and tips that will help keep you looking clean and fresh—hopefully you’ll find them helpful.


First on the list is shoes. There is nothing better than crisp fresh white shoes, but, invariably, they don’t stay that way long and once they get wet and dirty. Nope—they soon look old and tired.

While I don’t have the 11 secret herbs and spices for KFC, I will give you the secret recipe to keeping ‘Hollywood’s’ shoes always looking amazingly clean.

I’ve washed all my shoes—Shimano, Mavic, Giant, Rapha & Sidi—and all have come up looking brand new. In between washes I use baby wipes or a warm damp cloth to wipe them down as required.

ABOVE: It costs a small fortune to purchase and is well worth looking after! In this article Lee offers his tips on caring for jerseys, knicks, shoes, socks and more.

First thing to do is remove the innersoles—you don’t need to wash these unless they really stink. Step two is to spray the shoes with a pre-wash treatment like Sard Wonder Soap – give them a good soaking and let them sit for a couple of minutes.

Next, sprinkle NappySan over them and let it sit for five minutes. Then give them a light buff and scrub with a towel.

Then simply spray them and sprinkle NappySan again like in step one. Now put them in a lingerie bag and wrap a couple of towels around them and put them in the washing machine. Set the washing machine to a ‘delicates’ wash cycle with a maximum temperature of 30 degrees. One thing to note: I have only ever tried this with a front-loading washing machine.

Once finished, stand them upright on a windowsill to dry. You now have as-new-looking shoes! A final tip: Only wash your shoes when you really need to—washing them every week will reduce their lifespan.


Helmets are easy to clean with a rag and warm, soapy water. If your helmet is filthy-dirty, just wear it in shower and let the warm water run all over it.

A lot of helmets come with spare pads. Make sure you keep them, as I have misplaced mine many times. Over time the helmet pads wear down and become particularly smelly. When this is the case, whip out the new pads and breathe new life into your helmet. A lot of helmet manufacturers also sell the pads separately.

Washing Cycling Kit

ABOVE: Kit for days! Wash day at Lee Turner’s place is a very serious affair. Note the colour co-ordinated pegs!

As far as kit goes, I wash my kit on either a ‘delicates’ or the ‘Automatic Plus’ cycle. Make sure all your zips are closed, as you don’t want rough edge tossing around in the machine against your precious lycra. I always wash at around 30 to 40 degrees.

I don’t ever use fabric softener, as this ruins your kit. I never put it in the dryer either—while I have friends who do, I avoid it, as it’s not ideal for your precious lycra. All lycra colours can go in together; you don’t need to separate darks from lights—nothing will run. Just make sure other laundry items from the basket don’t sneak in.

Don’t put too much washing powder or liquid in the machine, because there is nothing worse than “soapy bum”. That’s the phenomena where it starts to rain, and your bibs get wet and soapy bubbles start forming around your bum…and get bigger. It is quite embarrassing, but is more prone to happen from top loader washing machines.

Warmers, Gloves & Gillettes

I only wash my arm and leg warmers when they are really dirty, as these don’t need to be washed after each ride. Same goes for gloves: these can go a while in between washes, and I only wash them if they’re really on the nose. Wash rain jackets sparingly and only if they smell of sweat, because each time to wash a rain jacket it makes it that little bit less effective.

Bike Washing

As for washing your bike—everyone has written articles on that. My 5 cents worth is, if it’s dry, I’ll just use baby wipes to wipe it down. If it’s wet or the bikes just generally dirty, I’ll use a car wash product from Bunnings and wash it with that.

I degrease my chain when it’s dirty, but keep stuffing it up and drying out my wheel bearings, so I leave this to the bike shop. I’ll stick to being the kit expert and leave the bike to the real experts—the local bike shop.

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