How to wash cycling clothing
Taking care of cycling clothes is usually limited to just washing them. However, some special and more expensive fabrics need additional special care. These include waterproof yet breathable fabrics such as eVent and Gore-Tex. We explained the special care and other actions that need to be taken with them when we wrote about the moomoo Regen jacket. This time we will focus on the main elements of cycling clothes like bib shorts, jerseys, and leg/arm warmers, and provide some tips about how to wash them. Correct washing guarantees the durability of the clothing.
The first wash
Did you know that after buying your new cycling clothes, you shouldn’t rush to practice or to a race, but wash them first instead? Functional fabrics and cycling clothes are exposed to many chemicals and colorants during their production. With cheaper cycling clothes, there is a chance that the textiles originate from uncertified factories where there is insufficient control over the chemicals and technology used.
The fabrics of moomoo are produced by six manufacturers in Italy. We have been to see the production of all our fabric partners by ourselves. We can confirm that their technology and use of materials and water is excellent and economical, but these fabrics are nevertheless exposed to chemicals and colorants.
Another matter is the perspiration that occurs from doing sports. It is the main agent in the meeting of clothes and skin. Sweat functions as a powerful solvent to other chemicals and colorants used in production, at the same time improving the skin’s susceptibility and permeability in relation to them (Wollina et al. 2006: 1–16). Washing or rinsing clothes before wearing them is therefore very important to maintaining the gentle balance of the skin’s microflora.
During the substantial, multi-stage processing, the fabric shrinks and its properties change slightly. It is also necessary to wash clothes to restore the fabric’s initial physical properties (including softness). It is enough to use a short, cold wash cycle, and you should use a washing powder, not a liquid detergent. If the fabric has protective layers (a laminated membrane, antibacterial processing, antistatic processing, etc.), powder detergents tend to maintain them better than liquid ones.
In order to avoid the spread of unpleasant smells and bacteria, it is recommended to wash cycling clothes after every use. If they are not very sweaty and do not smell bad and you don’t want to start a half-empty washing machine, make sure to hang the clothes to dry. To do that, turn the clothes inside out so that the side that was in contact with skin and sweat dries first.
However, sweaty or dirty clothes should not just be left to dry, because build-up of sweat damages the fabric. If the clothes are very dirty, soak them after wearing. Otherwise, stains such as mud may become embedded in a light fabric so strongly that it will be impossible to get them out later.
Best practice for machine washing cycling clothes
- Before washing, check that you didn’t leave gel packets, keys or anything else in the pockets. All heavy or sharp objects left in the pockets will damage the fabric.
- Zip up all zippers because loose zipper details will erode the fabric.
- Turn clothes inside out. This will significantly increase the lifespan of heat transfer or screen-printed elements, such as reflectors or logos.
- Wash cycling clothes separately from other laundry. After several washes, heavier and stronger fabrics (like denim) will start to wear out fragile cycling clothes faster than normal.
- To make sure that clothes are free of detergent, you may use an extra rinse cycle. Detergent residue is bad for both the fabric fibers as well as your skin’s microflora.
- Don’t use bleach or fabric softeners. Bleach is bad for the moisture-conducting properties of polyester, and fabric softener may destroy the membrane of a waterproof and breathable fabric.
- Dry cycling clothes on a hanger (except waterproof and breathable fabrics; read more in the blog post about the waterproof Regen jacket). Don’t use the drier because it will shorten the fabric’s lifespan.
Don’t use a high temperature for washing
Many cyclists have a bad habit of washing their clothes at a very high temperature (such as 80°C), to make them cleaner. This is not only a misunderstanding, it also significantly shortens the lifespan of cycling clothes.
The results of the study by Heinzel et al. (2010) show that domestic detergents are efficient at eliminating viruses and bacteria even at 30°C. This is the recommended washing temperature for most cycling clothes, and it is more than enough to stop the spread of bacteria.
In addition, many of moomoo’s fabrics and pads are bacteriostatic. It stops the growth of bacteria and slows down their reproduction. At the same time, this property of fabric helps to maintain bacterial colonies on the skin which are necessary for its normal functioning.
Very dirty cycling clothes
Soak very dirty clothes in cool water before washing. You can add some soap or even shower gel to the water. For a road cyclist’s clothes, soaking for half an hour to an hour will be enough. Later, use a normal cycle with a pre-wash cycle.
If you cycle off-road or in the case of mud stains, clothes should first be cleaned of hard dirt. This is easy to do with running water from a shower or a garden hose and gently washing them by hand. After that, leave the clothes to dry, even for the whole night if you need to. Off-road cyclists should seriously consider hand washing instead of machine washing. If you choose to stay with the more comfortable option, rinse twice when machine washing.
What else to look for
There are cyclists who wash cycling shoes along with cycling clothes. This should definitely by avoided. The plastic parts of the shoes, Velcro and sharp parts damage fabric fibres. Because of the Velcro, cycling gloves should also be kept separate from the rest of the laundry, or fasten the Velcro before washing.
Use a normal detergent or one that’s specifically meant for sports clothes. We recommend avoiding the use of strong detergents. If possible, choose the gentle cycle.
We recommend washing dark clothes and light clothes separately. However, since cycling clothes today tend to be very colourful, it may be difficult to follow this tip.
Everything you have read here is valid for most cycling clothes and definitely for moomoo’s cycling clothes. Nevertheless, you should look at the label inside every garment, which will provide you with specific instructions and possible differences. Based on this information, your lovely cycling clothes will stay beautiful and functional for a long time.
Written by Martti Sala
Drawings by Kristel Krutta
Heinzel, M., Kyas, A., Weide, M., Bockmuehl, D. Evaluation of the virucidal performance of domestic laundry procedures – International journal of hygiene and environmental health, 2010, 213(5): 334-7.
Wollina, U., Abdel-Naser, M. B., Verma, S. Skin Physiology and Textiles – Consideration of Basic Interactions – Biofunctional Textiles and the Skin, 2006, Vol. 33, pp. 1-16.