Do You Wash Your Bike Shorts After Every Ride?
A man riding a bike in black shorts.

Whether you are a newbie cyclist looking for a piece of information on how to properly take care of your new bike shorts, or an experienced biker who already owns a lot of cycling gear, chances are that you will be interested in an answer to this question – Do you wash your bike shorts after every ride?

It might gross you out, but not everyone washes their bike shorts after every ride. Some people tend to wear the same bike shorts a couple of times in a row. However, we recommend that you wash your shorts after every ride, to avoid the bacteria build-up, that can lead to saddle sores and infections.

In this article, we will show you different ways how you can wash and properly care for your bike shorts and other cycling gear. If you are hungry for more cycling-related posts, why not check if trek bikes can get wet and how to deal with bad weather?

Do you wash your bike shorts after every ride?

There are two types of people. Those who wash their bike shorts after every ride and those who don’t. There are also sensible arguments coming from both sides. However, in our article today we will mainly focus on why we think that washing your bike shorts after every ride is usually a more sensible idea.

The main concern that cyclists usually have is that if they wash their favorite bike shorts and other cycling gear too often, the gear will lose its new look and feel and eventually wear out. This is a legitimate concern, but our guide on how to correctly wash your bike shorts and other cycling gear will give you peace of mind.

How to wash bike shorts with chamois?

There are different ways how you can go about washing your bike shorts with chamois. In this section, we will cover them one by one. Whatever you do, make sure to follow the washing instructions on your bike shorts’ tag. While we are on the subject of washing and cleaning, if you are into climbing, you may want to check out our link on how to clean quickdraws and other climbing gear.

Hand washing

If you really want to prolong the life span of your bike shorts, there’s nothing better than hand washing. It is the best way to care for your clothes and it significantly reduces water consumption. If you are into snowboarding, make sure to check out if you can wash snowboard boot liners.

However, there will be times when hand washing your bike shorts after an exhausting ride will be the last thing on your mind. In that case, it’s absolutely fine to throw your bike shorts in the washing machine unless they are specifically labeled hand-wash. When it comes to hand washing your bike shorts, follow the next three steps:

  1. Soak your bike shorts – You can choose to soak your shorts in a sink, bucket, bowl, or some container. Make sure that the water is cold. Pour in some mild detergent or soap without any harsh agent, softener, or chlorine to create a soapy solution. Let your bike shorts soak for optimum 15 minutes.
  2. Never mix different colors – Make sure you always turn your bike shorts inside out. This way the pad will get cleaned thoroughly. Keep in mind that the red color from the chamois can color your light-colored garments if you soak your bike shorts for long.
  3. Rinse – You can rinse your bike shorts under running water. It can be a running tap or a shower. Make sure to rinse the shorts thoroughly.

Machine washing

Machine washing will shorten the life expectancy of your bike shorts in comparison to hand washing. However, if you do it properly and if you follow the next pre-washing steps, your bike shorts will be as good as new, even after many washing cycles:

  • Read the washing instructions – Since bike shorts are usually made of lycra or spandex which are sensitive to certain detergent components, you should be careful when it comes to which cleaning agent you use.
  • Separate light color clothes from dark color clothes – It is an essential washing rule, but it’s worth mentioning here as well.
  • Turn your bike shorts inside out – This step applies to both hand and machine washing. This way you will clean the most important parts of your shorts well while saving the graphics and logos from fading.
  • Use a wash bag – A wash bag will keep your bike shorts safe and protect them from zippers, a velcro strap, or the metal drum of your washing machine.
  • Use a delicate setting on your washing machine – this setting drops the water temperature, has two rinse cycles, spins your clothes at around 400 rpm, and lasts around half an hour.

A man wearing black bike shorts

Can you wear bike shorts twice?

Bike shorts can often deceive you into thinking that they are clean after a ride. They usually dry quickly and can be odorless after a ride. If the bike shorts are black, they may seem like they haven’t been worn at all. Don’t let any of this fool you. Learn how many bike shorts you need so that you can change them after every ride.

Sweat and bacteria build up after your ride so wearing the same bike shorts twice isn’t hygienic and can lead to saddle sores and other uncomfortable conditions. To make your bike shorts last longer, you should learn how to take care of them properly and that is exactly what we will teach you how to do in our next section.

How do you take care of bike shorts?

Dry your bike shorts

Since we’ve already covered the washing part, here we’ll mention the importance of drying your bike shorts. Drying is an important part of taking proper care of your bike shorts. When you use a delicate setting your bike shorts will come out slightly wet, so you will need to squeeze out the excess water.

The best way to dry your bike shorts is to air dry them, indoors or outdoors. If you do it outdoors, make sure you turn the bike shorts inside out before you hang them. That way the colors won’t fade in the sun. The bike shorts will dry quickly, so don’t expose them to direct sunlight for too long.

Use gentle detergents

Harsh chemicals in laundry detergents can damage your bike shorts. You can learn what chemicals to avoid when buying a detergent here. Harsh chemicals can weaken the elastic, especially around the waistband and thigh bands. In addition to this, it can cause skin irritation.

We would also recommend that you don’t use fabric softeners. Even though it can make your bike shorts smell better, it can negatively affect the moisture-wicking technology. Speaking of moisture-wicking technology, if you are into rock climbing, you might be interested to learn whether dry-treated ropes are more durable.

How often should I wash my cycling jersey?

When it comes to washing cycling jerseys, the same rule that applies to bike shorts applies here as well. You should wash your cycling jerseys after every ride. Never leave your cycling jersey or shorts in the hamper for days without washing them. Your cycling gear will start to severely stink if you leave it damp and stinky in a pile of other clothes.

How do I get the smell out of my cycling jersey?

If your cycling jersey has a particularly funky odor and you know it’s synthetic, you may want to switch to light or warm merino wool jerseys. Other than that, you can try some of the following tips to help you get rid of the stink.

  • Borax – a lot of people claim that it makes cleaning cycling clothing more effective. You can add it to the pre-soak or wash cycle.
  • Baking soda – it mostly deodorizes the stink, instead of removing it.
  • Vinegar – it usually does wonders for removing the stink as long as you don’t use too much of it.
  • Soak your clothing in cold water – you should do this right after the ride and add a bit of laundry detergent. Rinse it and air dry it.

How often should I wash my cycling gloves?

The best way to ensure the longevity of your cycling gloves is to wash them according to the manufacturer’s directions. Keep in mind that there are different types of cycling gloves and some of them shouldn’t be washed too often.

If your hands sweat a lot, you can hand wash your gloves after every ride. Soak them in cold to lukewarm water, add a mild detergent and let them air dry. While we are on the subject of cycling gloves, check out our blog to learn whether it’s a good idea to use gym gloves for cycling.

To sum up

Most of your cycling gear, including your bike shorts, should be washed after every ride. To ensure that no damage is done to the material, follow our tips on how to wash your cycling gear. Remember that clean cycling gear equals good health and a comfortable ride.

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