How to Wash Cycling Clothes: Essential Tips for Long-lasting Performance

Whether you're a serious cyclist or an occasional rider, taking good care of your cycling kit is essential. Proper laundering and care will help your jerseys, shorts, jackets, and other gear last longer and continue performing at their best.

In this post, we'll go over how to wash cycling clothes properly, as well as how to care for your cycling apparel and equipment.

Why Proper Washing is Important

Cycling apparel is designed for functionality using technical fabrics like polyester, nylon, and spandex. These synthetic materials wick moisture, dry quickly, and provide great stretch and compression.

However, they require more delicate care than everyday cotton clothes. Using hot water, harsh detergents, or fabric softeners can harm these fabrics, affecting sweat-wicking and breathability. Gentle washing helps maintain the technical properties, fit, color vibrancy, and durability of your cycling clothing

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Your Cycling Clothes

Follow these simple steps to keep your cycling kit looking and performing its best:

Step 1: Sorting Your Cycling Clothes

Picture showing the process of sorting cycling clothes before washing.

Wash cycling gear separately to avoid lint buildup and maintain wicking abilities. Sort items like bib shorts, jerseys, and jackets by color and fabric into mesh laundry bags and close them securely. This prevents snagging and protects the fabrics. Also, remember to turn any garments with graphics inside out to prevent fading.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Detergent

Image showing a selection of the appropriate detergent for washing cycling clothes.

When it comes to detergent, stick to gentle, perfume-free formulas designed for activewear or delicates. Harsh detergents with brighteners or fabric softeners can degrade the performance fabrics. Look for a mild, sulfate-free detergent that won’t strip the natural wicking properties. Avoid regular laundry detergents, especially those with added softeners, as they will coat the fibers in your cycling kit and diminish breathability.

Step 3: Machine Washing Tips

Image showing a washing machine used for washing cycling gear.

Always machine wash cycling clothing in cold water on a gentle or delicate cycle. The high heat and agitation of regular cycles can damage technical fabrics. Choose a short wash time - around 15-20 minutes. You can wash a full load of just cycling clothes together. However, don’t overload the drum, as items need room to move around gently. You may want to put bib straps and delicate items in a mesh bag first. Rinse with an extra cold water cycle to remove all detergent residue that could affect wicking.  

Extra Tip: Dealing with Tough Stains

Cycling clothes see a lot of wear and tear, so stains are inevitable. For mud or grease stains, let the item soak overnight in cold water with a bit of gentle detergent. For tougher oil-based stains, apply a prewash stain remover or a bit of dish soap directly on the spot, then let them soak before washing. Avoid harsh bleach or prewash sprays that could degrade performance fabrics. For stubborn stains, repeat the cold water soak as needed until the stain fades. With some patience, you can get your cycling kit looking like new.

Drying Your Cycling Clothes Correctly

Never put cycling apparel in the dryer, as high temperatures can damage fabrics, cause shrinkage, and fade prints. Always air dry cycling clothes, hanging or laying flat away from direct sunlight. If possible, dry indoors in a clean area to avoid dust and pollutants. Ensure that the seams and padding are fully dry before wearing them to prevent bacterial growth. Proper air drying preserves the quality and performance of your cycling wardrobe.

Cycling Clothes FAQ

Can I use fabric softener on my cycling clothes?

No, you should avoid using fabric softener on cycling clothes. Fabric softeners coat the fibers in the technical fabrics, which reduces their ability to wick moisture and breathe properly. This can diminish the performance of cycling apparel. The softeners also wash out the natural odor resistance in performance fabrics.

Can I put my cycling clothes in the dryer?

Don't put cycling clothes in the dryer. The tumbling and high heat of dryers can damage the technical fabrics and cause them to shrink or fade. Instead, always hang your cycling kit to air dry fully away from direct sunlight after washing.

How do I handle tough stains on my cycling clothes?

For stubborn stains, soak the clothes overnight in cold water with mild detergent and gently hand wash the clothes, focusing on the stain. For tougher stains, use a prewash stain remover or gentle dish soap on the spot before soaking, ensuring it's safe for technical fabrics. This method lifts stains without compromising fabric performance.

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