How to Wash and Care for Your Cycling Kit

washing cycling kit

A guide to washing your cycling shorts, bibs, and jerseys from the pros at Hincapie Sportswear.

A quality pair of bib shorts and a cycling jersey is a core part of your cycling kit, and when you find that combo that looks great and fits just right, you want it to stay that way. However, if you wash and dry your cycling apparel incorrectly you’ll find your go-to gear quickly loses its new look and disappears into the back of your closet. This doesn’t have to be the case, follow this guide to correctly wash and care for your bike shorts, bibs, and cycling jerseys.

Before washing your cycling kit

Like all activewear, your cycling kit is made from high-performance technical fabrics that are designed to wick moisture away from the body so you can stay cool when pushing your limits. Because of this, you don’t want to just toss your cycling kit in with the rest of your clothing on laundry day. The synthetic fabrics found in premium cycling clothing have microscopic pores that allow the fabric to breathe, the wrong washing detergents and softeners can clog these and impact the moisture-wicking technology of your kit. For this reason, we strongly recommend you use a mild detergent and some OxiClean for those stronger odors.

What you’ll need to correctly wash your cycling clothing

  • Zippered mesh bag
  • Dye-trapping sheet
  • Mild Detergent
  • OxiClean and OxiClean Odor Blaster

How to wash your cycling clothes

Your cycling wardrobe is an investment, follow these simple steps when washing your cycling shorts, bibs, and jerseys, so your apparel keeps that like-new look for longer.

1. Get your cycling kit ready for washing

Before you just toss your gear (bike shorts, jersey, socks, gloves, shoe covers, etc) into the washing machine, you’ll want to zip up and turn your shorts and jersey inside out, and anything with hook-and-loop closures should be placed in a zipper mesh bag. The abrasive surfaces can really damage the delicate synthetic fabrics of your apparel so it’s important to keep those items contained. Fasten the hook-and-loop closed on each piece.

2. Separate your cycling apparel from the rest of your laundry

Think of your cycling apparel in the same way you do your delicates. Your cycling kit should be washed separately from the rest of your clothes. This is especially important with the first wash as some of the sublimated dyes can come out and you don’t want to stain other garments. A dye-trapping sheet, like Shout Color Catchers, helps to absorb the excess dye in the wash.

3. Set your washing machine to cold

Avoid the temptation of washing your gear with warm water. It’s easy to think of all that sweat trapped in your clothing and think blasting it with a warm water washing cycle will help get rid of it, when in actual fact you’re damaging the integrity of the performance fabrics. With this in mind, set your washing machine to cold or tap cold when washing your cycling kit. Washing on cold will also help prevent dark and light colors from bleeding.

4. Use a mild detergent or OxiClean

Using a mild detergent is key when washing your gear. Strong chemical-based washing detergents will rapidly degrade the performance of the fabric and quickly wear out the kit. Also, avoid any cleaners with bleach or softeners as this can ruin the performance fabrics your kit is made from. When using a mild detergent you can pair it with OxiClean Odor Blasters Odor & Stain Remover Laundry Booster, this does a great job of killing the odor-causing bacteria, without damaging the integrity of the fabrics.

For clothes with heavy stains (we see you, mountain bikers!), OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover Spray can help get mud, salt, and grease stains out of clothing as well. Just spray on clothing as soon as you remove it so that it can get to work on the stain before it goes into the wash.

5. Line dry your cycling kit

Don’t turn your cycling kit into a bikini. Line dry all clothing—including socks! The heat from the dryer can break down the synthetic fibers of the fabric and reduce the life of your garments. The heat can also break down the adhesive for any reflective or heat-transfer logos and cause them to peel or fall off. And as we hinted to earlier, high heat can shrink some fabrics too!

How often should you wash your cycling kit?

It is important to wash your bike shorts, jerseys, bibs, and socks, as soon as possible after wearing them. The salt from your sweat can actually degrade the elastic fibers in the fabrics over time, so letting the clothes sit in a laundry basket or pile for more than a few days can really shorten the life of the garment. If you ride every day, plan to do a load of laundry two to three times a week to ensure the garments are getting cleaned promptly.

Finally, let’s not forget your chamois. This is one piece of cycling gear you don’t want to skip washing. As your chamois touches the skin and can hold a lot of moisture you’ll want to make sure you clean it well after every ride to avoid bacteria from growing. Skipping this step could lead to major skin irritation or saddle sores.

We know that your cycling kit is a core part of your riding gear and having a kit that looks and fits great just makes your ride that much better. If you’ve made a few mistakes washing and drying your kit, and your gear is not fitting like it once did, it might be time to start fresh with a new cycling kit and washing habits.

Hincapie cycling shorts, bibs, and jerseys are pro-tested and everyday rider approved. Check out this season’s essential cycling apparel.