Riding gear, like clothes, need cleaning, though hardly as often.
Cleaning motorcycle gear keeps them fresh and actually helps prolong their use because dirt and sweat tend to break down fabric. Besides, clean gear looks better and like any garment free of odors and stains feels better to wear.
How you care for your riding gear depends on what gear needs cleaning. Some of this stuff you can throw in the wash, others need hand cleaning or even dry cleaning. You can never go wrong by reading labels. From jackets to shoes always check the label for best washing practices but we'll give our two cents on the matter and hopefully offer some additional advice if you have limited means or no label exists to tell you best care practices.
Proper Care of Motorcycle Gear
Clean the outside of your helmet with a clean cloth and you can even use a cleaner/polish like Maxima SC1 or Motul Shine & Go for a slick look. Wash the helmet liner by hand or in the washer, though we recommend by hand. Once removed from the helmet use a helmet cleaner to clean and deodorize the inside.
Caring for your riding jacket depends on the fabric. We know of no machine wash leather jackets. (Actually we know of no machine washable leather though it probably exists.) Jackets usually require dry cleaning but unless you profusely sweat or get drenched in muddy water you can get away with a leather spray or conditioner that cleans and (usually) waterproofs the jackets. If you get caught in the rain or somehow get it wet, air dry works best though some you can put in the dryer, probably on low.
But as we say, check the label first before handing over to the dryer. Depending on the leather and/or any pre-treatment by the manufacturer you can probably implement these suggestions to care for your leather riding gear:
- Do not rub with abrasives or brushes
- Use a neutral detergent/cleaner made for leather
- Finish with a conditioning agent
- Air dry
Textile and mesh jackets usually work well in the wash but to be safe use a gentle cycle. Also, double check for leather components before washing as some brands incorporate leather accents or reinforcements. You can typically put these garments in the dryer on a low heat setting too. Just ensure you remove all armor and anything in the pockets.
You can also wash Gore-Tex jackets in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with reduced spinning but not with other heavily soiled items or other washing additives like fabric softener. Air dry works best but a warm, but if necessary you can use a gentle dryer cycle. Again, read the label for exact care instructions for your specific garment.
If you remain old school and wear a denim jacket, those like jeans get tossed in the wash. Air dry works best unless you want to spend five minutes re-stretching your denim jacket back to fit.
Pretty much see above under "Riding Jacket" as the same applies to leather pants, textile pants or riding jeans.
Motorcycle gloves probably get the least amount of love when it comes to care and cleaning. Most riders burn through gloves a lot faster than other gear and washing can make a once perfectly comfortable set of gloves feel a bit off. But, you can certainly hand wash them and air dry or if not leather and you want to toss them in the wash, that works as well.
Motorcycle Boots and Shoes
How often do you wash your regular shoes? Apply the same thinking to your motorcycle shoes or boots.
Boots and shoes for riding almost seem synonymous but vast differences exist because you have shoes that look like and function as shoes with reinforced footwear and ankle protection for riding and usually made from leather, suede, a type of microfiber or combination of both.
Boots on the other hand range from the classic style dress boot to an all-encompassing riding boot with strap buckles and all sorts of reinforcements for the feet, heel and ankles. The classic style boot is usually a straight-up leather boot with added reinforcements and the riding boot generally consists of a combination of leather, plastic, nylon and other fabrics for strength, durability and breathability.
Don't bother with washing riding shoes unless you encounter some serious dirt on your ride. Spot clean leather shoes and boots and use a conditioner or other treatment for sun and weather protection.
Don't place riding boots in the washer - you just may ruin the washer - instead, if well-soiled, hose down, use a mild detergent on the outside if necessary and turn upside down to dry. Most have a removable arch support pad which you can hand wash, if necessary and air dry. You can also get a boot dryer some riders like using after every ride so moisture doesn't accumulate or for those wet days when getting caught in a rain storm or encountering puddles.
To sum up, use common sense when it comes to caring for and washing your motorcycle riding gear and always check labels before taking the easy way out and tossing into the washing machine.