Quick...when was the last time you washed your helmet? Not the bugencrusted exterior, but the inside: the soft inner liner that cuddles up against your sweaty, greasy noggin' every minute you're aboard your bike.
Don't be embarrassed. Most folks only think about a proper helmet-washing when they get a whiff of the nasty odor wafting from within, usually right after a spirited run down some twisty road on a hot summer afternoon. Getting the picture here?
So, what's the proper method to wash one's helmet? We asked a couple of helmet industry insiders, and their answers are a lot simpler than you might imagine. Arai recommends immersing your lid completely in soapy water, shampoo being a good bet as it's mild yet good at dissolving the dirt and oils that collect on the comfort liner. Shoei espouses a similar method, though it specifically recommends Woolite. Most of Arai's and Shoei's current helmets have removable liners, which make cleaning a much easier affair as they can simply be removed and dunked. Helmets with non-removable liners must be completely immersed. A word of warning: Although Arai and Shoei use adhesives that aren't affected by water, other helmets may not be so designed. Check with the manufacturer if you're unsure.
Warm, soapy water is an ideal mixture for cleaning your helmet's exterior and shield, too. Use a soft, non-abrasive towel or rag to gently remove dirt and bugs, and a soft brush or Q-tip to remove any pesky insects that dove kamikaze-style into a vent or crevice.
Remember that a thorough rinsing and drying-which can take as long as three days in a well-ventilated area-is key to a happy helmet. Don't use heat, which can damage the EPS liner. Dry your helmet after a hot and sweaty ride, too; few things are worse than yanking a lid off your sweaty head and putting it in a dark, damp place for the evening- though the surprise you'll get the next morning will likely keep you from doing it again.