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How to clean road grime off your clothes

Don’t let muddy road conditions keep you hiding inside

It’s an unseasonably warm day and a friend is nagging you to come ride outside. You’ve run out of excuses (aside from being lazy about taking your bike off the trainer). You give in and go for a ride. The ride itself is amazing, getting outside feels so good and you’re so happy you did it—until you get home and look at the back of your jersey/jacket and realize you’ve just ruined some of your expensive cycling gear.

Mud/road grime/grease stains happen, but it’s not the end of the world if they do. Every stain is slightly different, but this process should work for the standard, run-of-the-mill post-ride mess.

1. Don’t let your muddy clothes dry

Photo: Lauren Daniells

Landry is never the first thing you want to do when you get home from a ride, but dealing with your dirty kit immediately will save you more work in the future. Letting mud dry means a higher chance of it caking into your kit and staining permanently.

2. Run your clothes under warm water and add dish soap

Before putting your kit in the washing machine or hand washing it, run the dirty area under warm water. Add a few drops of dish soap onto the stained area and put your hands inside the shirt. Rub your hands together with the fabric inside them, getting the soap to foam while the friction takes out the embedded road grime. If you have a soft bristle brush, gently scrub the area, but don’t apply too much pressure, as a lot of cycling clothing is thin and delicate.

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3. Soak using a pre-wash cleaner


Most bleach-free pre-wash cleaning products are appropriate for kit materials. Check yours to make sure it doesn’t contain any bleach. If you don’t have any pre-wash cleaner a small amount of laundry detergent will do. Soak the clothes overnight and gently wring it out in the morning

4. Wash in the washing machine or hand wash

washing machine

Wash your kit the way you would normally. We recommend a gentle cycle with cold water. If you want to do a heavy wash with hot water we can’t stop you—but we recommend you follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to make sure your kit lasts as long as possible.

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5. Bonus round

Degreaser can help with chainring stains Photo: MEC.ca

Dish soap is good for road grime because it’s made to combat grease, but sometimes it’s not strong enough. If you’ve gone through this entire process and you still have stains, or if you specifically have chainring stains, it might be time to bring out the big guns. A degreaser, such as WD-40 Bike 3006 Chain Cleaner & Degreaser, can work wonders on stained clothing. Use it in the same way you would use dish soap in the earlier step.