Your MX gear is designed to keep you protected whenever you’re riding, but when it comes to race day, you’ll want to look good too. It pays to keep your MX gear looking as good as possible to protect your investment, but it’s not as simple as throwing everything into the washing machine and pressing the power button. Instead, you’ll need to know how to care for performance riding layers, body armour and braces, plus leather boots and your MX helmet.
There are a few simple rules you’ll need to observe to make the job simpler. For example, don’t just bundle up your sweaty jersey, trousers and gloves and shove them into the bottom of a bag. Use a proper laundry bag to let the sweat wick away before you can get them clean. For your hard shell gear, try and hose away the worst of the mud as soon as possible and then wash all the parts that you can in the washing machine - you can usually take out your cloth helmet liner and throw that in as well.
Cleaning your MX riding layers
Modern performance gear is usually pretty easy to care for, and you don’t need to do much more than follow the instructions on the care label. However, if you use high performance gear with leather inserts, then you’ll need to be extra careful not to damage it or you’ll shorten its lifespan - and that means no oxygenated detergents or pre-soakers. Instead, shake or brush off big chunks of mud before throwing your gear in to wash.
It’s a good idea to clean your gear as soon as possible after a ride, rather than leaving it to fester for a week. Turn your jersey inside out and fasten your trousers and gloves, before washing according to the care label, making sure you don’t add any bleach. Most modern performance fabrics will dry pretty quickly, but never expose them to sunlight or put them in the tumble dryer. It goes without saying that you won’t need to iron your riding, gear as you’d probably melt it!
Finally, rub some leather conditioner into the knee inserts to keep the leather supple, before hanging your pants and jersey on a padded coat hanger and storing in a cool, dry, dark wardrobe until the next time you need them. Never wrap your gear in plastic or other non-porous material, as this will encourage mould to grow on the leather.
Freshen up your helmet
We’ve already mentioned that you can machine wash the cloth liner of your helmet. You can also wash the foam padding by hand in soapy water, before leaving to air dry - don’t attempt to tumble dry foam rubber or you’ll deform it and your helmet will be useless.
Now give your helmet a good clean inside and out with a mild detergent and a cloth, or use a proprietary helmet cleaning spray. Don’t have a removable liner? Then you’ll need to dunk the entire helmet in a bath of soapy water to get rid of any sweat and odour.
Finish with a coat of wax if you like the just out of the showroom look, or if you want to help your helmet repel dirt and water on your next ride. Don’t forget to give your helmet carrying case or bag a thorough clean too, as this simple bit of maintenance can prevent your helmet getting scratched while in transit.
Goggles and protective gear
Now let’s move on to the outer shell of your MX kit. Cleaning goggles is an easy win, so let’s start there - simply pop out the lenses and wash in warm soapy water, while giving the frame and strap a good wipe over. Let everything air dry thoroughly.
The construction of your other protective gear will determine how it should be cleaned. Harder plastic pieces can easily be hosed down and left to air dry, while softer braces and shoulder supports made from fabric will either go in the washing machine or can be rinsed through by hand according to the washing directions. Avoid spin drying these pieces of equipment, as that may weaken the construction.
Down to the boots
Your boots take a real pasting when you ride, since they’re the part of you that are most in contact with your bike and all that mud. If your boots are really caked, then turn a pressure washer on them - if you don’t have one yourself, then either borrow one or use the one at your nearest car wash. Start by turning your boots upside down and soaking at a lower pressure to let the water start softening up the mud, before blasting with a higher pressure to clean off most of the mud, particularly on the soles.
Now you’ll need to apply a good degreaser to break down any chain lube or oil that might have got on your boots. Leave to work for 10 minutes, then blast again. Now scrub your boots all over with soapy water to get rid of any stains or marks before, you’ve guessed it, a final hose down with the pressure washer. Be really precise at this stage and try to dislodge every single grain of mud which might be hiding in the soles or under the buckles. The closer you spray, the cleaner your boots will get, but be careful not to damage any delicate areas.
Finally, place your boots in the shade to dry, opening up any buckles and removing the inner liner which you can hand wash in gentle detergent. It’s also a good idea to give your boots and any other leather gear a once over with leather conditioner every now and again to keep it supple and nourished. In that way, your boots will always look great and feel good when you ride.