How to Care For Cycling Shorts

by lostcyclingdude

Ewww. Ok, so we need an effective way to keep our shorts clean and bacteria-free, while simultaneously getting as much life out of them. Here are more secrets from the bike shop.

When you are a college student that rides a bike ever single day -- but also only owns two (or one!) pairs of cycling shorts, you need to develop a method of keeping those shorts clean and smell-free, while also making them last as long as possible.

As always, read (and follow!) the clothing care labels on your shorts, but here are some tips that I picked up in my time as an avid road cyclist . (Yes, I did shave my legs)

These tips work for any bike shorts. Not just the hot pink ones.

Bacteria is Yuck

The biggest reason to keep your workout clothing clean is that you MUST eliminate the bacterial threat.  Bacteria and mold will not only ruin your bike shorts, but they can also infect little pores and cuts that may develop from working out.

You don't need a bacteria farm on your rear-end.  Put clean shorts at the top of your list!

Wet is Bad

Ok, so you are exhausted. You just finished a 50 mile ride (or 90 minutes of spinning), and now you need to hurry and meet your friends for a post-ride pizza.  Your legs feel like jelly and you just want to lay in the middle of the floor and not move.

These Techniques Work On About All Cycling Shorts
These Techniques Work On About All Cy...

I've been there. 

Don't put away your shorts wet. It only breeds bacteria and mildew.

If you can't clean your shorts right away, then drape them over something to dry.  And, unless you live in a bachelor pad, make sure that you hang them in a back room where they can't scare away any future girlfriends. 

Rinse Those Shorts 

The more you wash your shorts, the more you can shorten their life.  If you are an avid rider, you may want to try the rinse method to cut down on the number of washes you have to do. 

Simply hand-rinse your shorts in the sink with cool or lukewarm water.  Use a little hand soap to help get the sweat out of the pad, and then wring and hang to drip dry. 

This became a vital technique that I used during days of stage racing to make sure I always had a clean, dry pair of shorts for the next day.  Spin class cyclists and commuters can especially appreciate this as an easy way to keep the shorts clean, but not always have to wash them. 

Use Tech Fabric Soaps

After every couple of rides, I like to give my shorts a real bath in a real washing machine. One caveat: It's best to use a good soap that is designed for tech or athletic fabrics.  This helps the tech fabrics retain their special wicking abilities and keeps them working the way they should for longer.

Always use cold water.

Also, if you are washing bibs, make sure to put them in a mesh bag to keep the straps from getting tangled up around the washer rotor.  The sight of your $200 bibs wrapped around the washer rotor? Yes, I am crying too.  Don't let it happen to you. 

Avoid Heat

Whether this is the heat of your car or the heat of a dryer, avoid it.  Cycling shorts were made to air dry in peaceful environments.  

So don't leave your cycling shorts baking in your car all day. They simply weren't made for that kind of abuse.  Slip them in your briefcase and sneak them inside.  I'm sure your boss can understand. 

Looking for shorts? Check out the Beginner's Guide To Choosing Cheap Cycling Shorts

Clean shorts might not make you faster, but they do eliminate saddle sores
Clean shorts might not make you faster, but they do eliminate saddle sores
Updated: 05/20/2012, lostcyclingdude
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