How Often to Wash Cycling Clothes (Shorts, Jerseys, Bibs, Etc.)

So you’ve run out of clean cycling clothes on your bike trip, but you’ve still got more rides planned. You figure you’ll just put on a used jersey and shorts and be ok. Maybe you’ll even give them a rinse in the sink and be good to go!

After all, you don’t wash your jeans every time you wear them…so you can get a few rides out of each jersey and pair of shorts, right?  

Well, maybe not. How often should you really wash your cycling clothes? Let’s find out!

How Often You Should Wash Cycling Shorts

Cycling clothing needs to be washed every time you ride in them. Frequent washing will prevent health issues, make your rides more comfortable and keep your clothing looking (and smelling) fresh. The more often you ride, the more often you’ll need to wash your gear…or you could simply buy more jerseys and shorts!

Should You Wash Cycling Shorts After Every Ride? 

Many people ask the question: How often should you wash cycling shorts? The simple answer is you should wash your cycling shorts every time you wear them.

There are a couple very good reasons to wash your cycling shorts every time you use them. First, cycling shorts are designed to be worn without underwear. So even if you are the type to wear your jeans more than once, you probably at least change your underwear (or you should!) because this prevents irritation, chafing and infection from developing ‘down there.’

Since you don’t (or at least, you shouldn’t) wear underwear with cycling shorts, your chamois is designed to serve the same purpose as underwear, to a point. It protects your most delicate parts from moisture, heat, friction, pressure, and vibration. 

When you are riding though, all that sweat can build up in the chamois. And it needs to be changed after every use, just like your underwear. 

Second, bacteria can grow in your cycling shorts if not washed regularly. While cycling shorts are designed to wick away sweat and moisture from your skin, the truth is, they’re still pretty damp inside when you remove them.

Heat and moisture from your body create a breeding ground for bacteria and other nasty little pathogens that can give you something you don’t want to experience in your most delicate places. When you put those dirty shorts back on, the bacteria is already there, and the heat from your body can cause them to multiply even faster. 

You may be able to pull it off from time to time, but not washing your cycling shorts after every ride could eventually catch up to you in the form of unpleasantries such as saddle sores, jock itch, yeast infections, and general stink. 

How To Tell if Cycling Shorts Need to Be Washed

The easiest way to tell if your cycling shorts need washing is to smell them. They’ll probably have a sweaty, stinky body odor-type fragrance if you’ve worn them. But even if you don’t smell anything foul, you should give them a good washing if you’ve worn your shorts on a long ride. recommends washing your shorts inside out and making sure the chamois is completely dry before wearing them again. I recommend air drying to help them last longer.  

How Often You Should Wash Cycling Jerseys

Cycling jerseys should be washed after every ride to prevent odors, bacterial growth, and chafing. If you only have one cycling jersey, you’ll want to wash it after every ride. However, if you do ride more than once per week, you may want to have a jersey for each time you ride so you don’t have to do laundry every day. 

Should You Wash Cycling Jerseys After Every Ride? 

Cycling jerseys certainly don’t have the same ‘ick’ factor that already-worn cycling shorts may have. But wearing a jersey a second time can lead to chafing, acne, and general stink issues. 

One of the problems with wearing cycling jerseys more than once is that odor-causing bacteria hang out in the material of your jersey, especially when it’s damp. Then, when you put on that pre-worn jersey, you heat up that same bacteria and cause it to multiply. The more it multiplies, the harder it is to remove the smell from your jersey, even after you wash it. 

Wearing a base layer under your jersey can help prevent stinky odor buildup, but it’s still a good idea to wash your jersey every time you wear it. 

How To Tell if Cycling Jerseys Need to Be Washed

Even though you might be able to get away with wearing your cycling jersey more than once, you probably shouldn’t. So if you’ve worn it, wash it. If you can’t wash it right away, either rinse it in the shower or sink and hang it up, or turn it inside out and hang it up so it will dry quickly.

Otherwise, if your ride was really short and not-at-all sweaty, you might be able to get away with wearing it a second time. But if there is visible dirt, dampness, or any hint of odor, throw it right into the wash. 

It isn’t worth the risk of infection or embarrassing odor. 

How Often You Should Wash Cycling Bibs

Cycling bibs are simply cycling shorts with shoulder straps, so you’ll want to wash them as often as you would wash cycling shorts: after every ride. If you ride a few times a week, you’ll definitely want to have multiple pairs of bibs. This way, you don’t have to do laundry as often, and you’ll help your bibs last longer: the washer and dryer can take a toll on the fabric!

Should You Wash Cycling Bibs After Every Ride? 

You should wash your cycling bibs after every ride for the same reasons you need to wash your cycling shorts after every ride. The chamois of your shorts is a breeding ground for bacteria.

To prevent infection, take your shorts off as soon as you’re able. Then, wash them inside out and make sure they dry thoroughly before wearing them again. 

How To Tell if Cycling Bibs Need to Be Washed

If you’ve worn your cycling bibs even for a short ride, you need to wash them. If your cycling bibs have an odor, they need to be cleaned. And if they have any sort of visible dirt, make sure to wash them pronto. 

Turn your cycling bibs inside out to wash them and make sure your chamois is completely dry before you wear your bibs again. If you are worried about wearing out your expensive bibs too quickly, you can put them in a mesh laundry bag on the gentle cycle or carefully wash them by hand.  

How Often You Should Wash Cycling Gloves

Cycling gloves don’t need to be washed as frequently as the rest of your cycling kit, but they do need to be washed every three to four rides or when they are visibly dirty or smelly. 

Should You Wash Cycling Gloves After Every Ride? 

You probably don’t need to wash your cycling gloves every time you ride. Your cycling gloves aren’t worn in as delicate an area as your cycling shorts, so you don’t have to worry about infections or bacteria quite as much. 

However, your hands can get sweaty when you ride. Your gloves and hands can also come in contact with dirt, bike grease, and tire grit. You also may wear them while eating on the bike, so it’s best to at least rinse them off if they’re covered in crumbs or energy gels.

How To Tell if Cycling Gloves Need to Be Washed

Cycling gloves develop a unique odor when they need a good washing! And if you are eating on the bike, you won’t want to have those stinky gloves anywhere near your food. So as soon as your gloves start to smell, you’ll need to wash them. You’ll also want to wash them if they look dirty. And if you don’t tend to get them very dirty, just wash them every three to four rides to be safe. 

Gloves are made from different materials than your cycling shorts or bibs, so you will probably want to hand wash them with cool water and a mild detergent.


JJ here - I've spent a lot of time on a bike, including completing the 3,000+ mile Southern Tier Route (CA to FL). I started Cycling Beast to "demystify" cycling topics, and to help people overcome roadblocks and level-up their skills.

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