Chances are that your gear is caked in mud by the end of the day. While a thorough cleaning is necessary, you run the risk of damaging the your outfit in the process. Alternatively, you don’t want to be wearing dirty gear because you’re afraid of ruining the material. Whilst you should always adhere to the specific washing labels your gear comes with, these tend not to be detailed. Luckily, there are basic guidelines you should follow while washing your gear to ensure you get maximum cleanliness with no harm done.
Starting the process early is essential in cleaning your gear. Avoid crumpling your outfit as this allows the dirt to sink in. Instead, try to remove as much as dirt as you can before properly washing it. This can be done by hosing off the mud under a low pressure. For stubborn stains, use a soft brush with cold water and a mild detergent. Avoid using excessive force as this can deteriorate the durability of your gear.
You should be wary of using oxygenated detergent when washing your gear. While it’s useful for the extra lift it gives to stains, its active ingredients can dry out the leather knees. Over time, this will make them unsafe due to cracking and splitting. Turning your gear inside out and soaking with a mild, non-abrasive detergent is gentler than using oxygenated detergents without compromising on hygiene.
After removing as much dirt as you can, wash your gear in the machine under a cold wash and cold rinse. Some riders are tempted to pressure clean their gear or wash it under a more rigorous cycle, but this runs the risk of crumpling or fading your gear. It’s also powerful enough to push the oils out from the leather knees, compromising their flexibility. Also avoid washing your gear with bleach, as this will fade the colour.
Tumble drying your gear after it’s finished washing can ruin all the careful cleaning you’ve done to this point. Hang it to dry in a well ventilated area out of direct sunlight. This will allow the material to breathe and protect the colours from fading prematurely. After it's dry, pack away neatly and never iron it out as this can melt the fabric.