A good helmet is one of the most important items in your collection of riding gear. Due to its close-fitting nature, a helmet needs cleaning and maintenance over time.
To get the official run-down on how to care for your helmet, we asked the good folks at HJC Helmets to chime in on the procedures they recommend for helmet maintenance. Of course, almost all of these steps apply to helmets made by any manufacturer, but if you have specific questions about your helmet of preference, contact the manufacturer.
Only use approved methods to clean the helmet. Using other unapproved chemicals or methods may damage the helmet graphics, shell or lining. A damaged helmet may increase risk of serious injury or death in a collision.
—Helmets with Glossy Finish
All HJC helmets are finished with an automotive-type base coat/clear coat finish so they should be cleaned with Powersports-oriented products. Pro Honda’s Hondagloss and Honda Glare Professional Polish are two good examples. Rubbing compounds can be used for deep cleaning to remove many scratches and scuffs. Follow the product's instructions diligently. Over-polishing with rubbing compounds can cause light abrasions that may dull the finish of your helmet. Stickers and decals will leave adhesive residue when removed. To remove the adhesive residue, use alcohol swabs. Be certain to immediately wipe away the excess liquid and clean the area with soap and water once the adhesive residue is removed. Do not use excessive rubbing pressure while attempting to remove the adhesive residue. Instead, use multiple light treatments.
—Helmets with Non-Glossy Finish
For flat-finish (non-glossy) helmets, HJC recommends using warm water and mild soap. Use multiple treatments for heavier dirt. Do not use excessive pressure or rubbing compounds while cleaning the surface as a "glossy" effect could be created, ruining the flat-finish appearance.
Most helmet manufacturers recommend changing a helmet every 3 to 5 years as the accumulation of sweat, humidity and dirt can deteriorate the fabric and stitching. To wash removable pads, HJC recommends regular machine washing and air-drying. For non-removable interiors, use bacteria- and mildew-reducing products such as "Helmet Fresh."
Dirt and debris can find its way into the venting of your helmet. Compressed air cans used for cleaning computer keyboards may be used to blow the debris from the ventilation system. It is recommended that you remove any removable pads before performing this process.
—Do Not Modify Your Helmet
Most helmets sold in the U.S. are designed to meet Snell or DOT testing standards. Modifying your helmet may increase your risk of serious injury or death in a collision. Do not modify your helmet. Modifications include the following:
• Drilling holes
• Cutting shell, liner, or strap
• Modifying the retention system, including adding a chin cup
• Removing parts
• Attaching accessories not manufactured by the helmet manufacturer
If you have any questions about modifications, contact the manufacturer.
—Storing Your Helmet Correctly
An improperly stored helmet can become damaged and may increase your risk of serious injury or death in a collision. You should:
• Store helmet in a cool and dry place
• Keep helmet away from pets and other animals
• Keep helmet away from heat in excess of 122ºF and do not set on or near hot surfaces.
By following these simple steps, you’ll keep your helmet fresh and ready to go for miles and miles down the road.