The helmet is the most important piece of riding gear. It’s designed to last between five and seven years, before the outer shell gets too brittle and the expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner loses its ability to absorb impacts. Here’s how to keep your motorcycle helmet in top condition and make it last as long as possible.
If it’s been dropped or knocked, it may be cracked. If the exterior is scuffed, check the EPS behind it hasn’t collapsed. There’s not point working on a helmet that’s too badly damaged to wear.
Soak any dried-on filth or flies with wet kitchen paper-towels, then wash with a soft, clean sponge. Don’t use any solvent-based cleaner or degreasers. Dish-washing liquid is fine as long as you rinse it off well to remove any detergent.
Use cotton buds to get into vents. If you have flip-front helmet, consider using a silicone lubricant on the mechanism. Take the visor off and clean behind it and around the seal.
Rinse the shell with clean water, let it dry and then polish it. If you’ve missed any damage, you’ll spot it at this stage. Otherwise, you’ll polish out any small scratches and leave a tougher finish that will help protect it.
Visors get dirty on both sides, so need to be removed for proper cleaning. Soak any dirt or bugs off the outside, then clean it with lukewarm, mildly soapy water – and rinse thoroughly. Don’t dry it with a cloth. If it gets streaky, rinse again under a warm tap. If there’s a Pinlock insert, rinsing that thoroughly with clean water will help keep it working well.
While the visor is off the helmet, clean the rubber seal and treat it with a silicone lubricant to keep it supple. Drop-down sun visors can be removed and cleaned with warm water too.
If the motorcycle helmet has a removable liner, take it out carefully. Put it in a net bag, then run it through the washing machine on a delicate cycle. Alternatively, wash it by hand in mild detergent. Always rinse it thoroughly and let it air-dry slowly. It the liner is really dirty, though, consider replacing it with a fresh one.
If the liner is fixed, you could use a helmet-lining refresher spray – or even air-freshener or odor-eliminating product. But you’re probably better washing it gently with a mild detergent then showering it to rinse it out.
By the way, your motorcycle helmet came with an instruction manual. Read it, it will tell you how it works and how to care for it….