How to clean a motorcycle helmet? The Right Way

Person Wearing Helmet

A long ride under the sun’s sweltering heat will undoubtedly leave your helmet smelling bad. In fact, it can leave a stench on your head. If you want to keep your helmet smelling fresh, you should clean it regularly. Here, we’re going to talk about that.

Removing Bad Odor From Your Helmet

Your helmet smells because you’ve been riding your bike for a long time, and it’s summer. But, if you’ve been sweating a lot (and you know you have), you might want to freshen up your gear. There are ways to make your helmet smell good again.

Removing lousy odor from your helmet is no easy feat. In fact, if not done correctly, you will find that even if you’ve already soaked and washed your helmet, the smell stays. It just takes a few simple steps to get rid of the funk.

What Cleaning Materials are Needed

Cleaning supplies are essential for cleaning and maintaining your motorcycle helmet. There are a few different cleaning materials you will need to get the job done.

  • Microfiber rags:  This type of cloth is perfect for giving the exterior of your helmet a wipedown. Best of all, it doesn’t scratch the surface of your helmet or visor. 
  • An old toothbrush: Use one with soft bristles to ensure that it doesn’t scratch the surface of your helmet. The toothbrush is useful when cleaning hard-to-reach surfaces that your rag won’t be able to reach. 
  • Baby shampoo: This will be used to clean the inside of your helmet. You can use the shampoo to soak the inner lining for a fresh smell. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is the best brand to use here; it’s not petroleum-based and very gentle to the fabric. 
  • A tub of warm water: This will be used to clean the outside of your helmet. 

Let’s start cleaning your helmet:

1. If your helmet has one, uninstall the helmet peak. This is usually found on a dual-sport visor. Leave the visor on if you have a full-face helmet. 

2. If you have Bluetooth headset for motorcycle helmet for communicators or cameras attached to your helmet, remove them. 

3. Remove the inner lining or any other removable electronics sandwiched by the helmet padding. Depending on the make and model of your helmet, you may have to start with the chin curtain, then the padding, and so on until you can remove everything inside the helmet. Take care not to harm the fabric or the plastic that holds the cushioning, if there is any.

3. Preparing to clean the shell. This step is easy. You only need to wrap the outside of the helmet with a warm damp microfiber cloth. Let it stay for 15 minutes while you start on the inside of the helmet. 

Then, take the microfiber cloth, dunk it in the warm water, and wring the water so it’s not entirely soaked. Then, wrap it around the helmet again. This dislodges any stubborn dirt or grime sticking at the helmet surface. 

Then, use the cloth to give your helmet exterior a rub down to remove the bugs that might be stuck there. After this, you can start cleaning the interior of the helmet. 

4. Clean the Helmet Padding

The section of the helmet tends to be forgotten by many riders. The smell after a long hot summer ride never really goes away. Besides the sweat, your hair also produces oil that sticks to the helmet padding, adding to the smell. 

Add some baby shampoo in a tub of warm water. Make sure the tub is deep enough. Submerge the padding in the water; massage it as if you’re washing your hair. The rubbing motion will clean the padding of any dirt, dust, sweat, or oil stuck on and in the padding. 

Some helmets come with removable covers for the cheek pads. While removing them might be tempting and easy, putting them back is quite a challenge, so it is recommended to leave them on. 

If you’re happy with the result, run the padding under clean water. Give it a good squeeze to ensure that no soapy water is left in the cheek pad. Set it aside to dry. 

Air drying is the best way to dry the padding. Do not put them in the microwave, do not use a hairdryer or any external heat that will melt the plastic and foam. 

5. Cleaning the Helmet Shell

At this point, your helmet’s been soaking in the wet fabric for 15 to 20 minutes. The stubborn dirt and grime should be dislodged, and the surface should be easier to clean.

The first step is to remove the face shield. Every helmet manufacturer has a different way of removing the visor. Still, for the most part, they are easy to uninstall. Once done, wrap it in a damp cloth and set it aside. 

Take a microfiber rag and dunk it in warm water. Give the shell a good wipedown using a generous amount of water. Focus on the nooks and crannies.  Check the shell for places where dirt might be trapped. Continue the wipedown, making sure you don’t miss any areas. 

6. Cleaning the air vents

If you haven’t cleaned your helmet in a while, there might be a tendency that there are caked-in mud, dirt, grime, or dead insects inside the vent. This is where the toothbrush comes in handy. 

Suppose there is something stuck in the vent. In that case, you can use either a vacuum compressed air, or if the vent is removable, try soaking it in warm soapy water and use the toothbrush to clean it. 

Finally, dry the vent using a clean microfiber cloth. 

7. Cleaning The Visor/Face Shield

Your face shield should now be easy to clean because it’s been soaking in the wet rag. Remember that the face shield is easily scratched, so be careful. 

In most cases, your visor is equipped with either a UV or an anti-fog coating. Check the manual to find out which. 

Use warm water and a wet cloth to clean the visor. Do not use solvents or anything that could damage the surface coating. Once you are done, set it aside. 

8. Once you’re helmet is dry, install everything back. As usual, be careful. Your helmet should be spic and span so try not to get your fingerprints. 

At this point, you now have a clean helmet that’s ready for another adventure. 


The easiest way to keep your helmet from sweating is to clean it more often. This helps dry off the helmet quickly, allowing you to resume your ride sooner.

We’ve just shown you how to quickly and easily remove that nasty and unsightly padding around your head…so why not do it a little more often?

Always make sure to keep your helmet clean and be safe out there.

Have a nice day!