In this series, I try to provide answers to questions about cycling that are often left unasked for one reason or another. Some of these questions just never occur to people, while other queries might be awkward or too embarrassing to ask. This month, the focus is on helmet-related matters!
The proper, hygienic answer to this frequently unasked question is: you should wash your helmet everytime you sweat enough to soak through its interior padding. We wash sweaty clothes before wearing them again, so why should helmets be different?
There are a few caveats to consider though. On the one hand, some helmet manufacturers treat their helmet pads with antimicrobial agents such as Polygiene to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. The application of such treatment on the padding can actually be very effective at delaying the onset of bad odor, and can slow the transformation of your helmet into a petri dish,
But on the other hand, there is no substitute for proper cleaning with soap and water. Taking the time to wash your helmet also allows you to do a close inspection for signs of wear and other warning signs that might need your attention.
Take care of your helmet, and it will take care of you(r head)!