How to Care for Your Riding Helmet

Girl wearing black riding helmet.
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After you've chosen a riding helmet that looks great and keeps you safe, you'll want to keep it clean and well maintained. Here's how to look after the inside and outside of your new riding helmet.

Cleaning the Exterior of your Riding Helmet

Helmets aren’t difficult to care for. Schooling helmets usually have shells of smooth plastic that dust can be wiped with a damp cloth or a microfiber cloth. It’s important not to use any solvents on your helmet that could break down any of the materials or glues. If you don’t like the way your helmet looks, try a stretchy helmet cover to add some color and style. When the shine has gone from your helmet, it could mean the material is breaking down and it’s time for a new helmet. Most manufacturers recommend replacing helmets about every five years.

Cleaning a Velvet Helmet

A velvet or velveteen helmet may need cleaning if it becomes dusty or wet. Brush up the pile on velvet with a very soft brush once the helmet is dry. Use the soft brush on your vacuum cleaner to pull dust out of velvet. Clean stains with a damp cloth, dabbing lightly so you don’t pull the fabric too much. If you use your velvet riding helmet every day, consider using a helmet cover to keep it clean.

Some manufacturers recommend washing your helmet inside and out, with mild soap and water.

Cleaning the Interior of Your Helmet

We once accidentally left my daughter’s riding helmet in the tack box after a horse show. It had been a really hot day and the helmet had been put away damp. After a few days of "fermenting," the helmet was unfit to wear. It smelled terrible. If your helmet has suffered a similar fate it is possible to deodorize it. First, we tried spraying household deodorizing. The result was a stinky helmet/antiseptic scent. We found that letting it dry out in the fresh air, and then leaving a bag of deodorizing rock called zeolite sitting in it for a few days did the trick. Leaving deodorizing rock, which you can probably find at a nearby hardware store, or baking soda in your helmet carrier can help maintain the fresh smell.

You can purchase helmet deodorizer. Some find it’s effective with regular use. Another way to avoid dirty liners is to use products like Barn Beanies, Sticky Wick-Its liners, Cool Medic Liners, or other similar helmet liners.

Lots of online sources suggest that a good way to clean your helmet is to run it through a dishwasher cycle. We would not recommend this. While many manufacturers recommend that you can wash your helmet with mild soap and water, helmets were not made to hold up to large amounts of harsh soap and hot water rinsing through for any length of time. Your helmet is largely made of foams, plastics, and fabrics held together with adhesives. You don’t want to do anything that might weaken any of those materials. Likewise, don’t leave your helmet sitting in the direct sunlight, like car windshields or others places where it might be exposed to extreme heat.

Storing Your Helmet

To store your helmet, a helmet bag or case can prevent bumps and scratches. Sit your helmet top down when setting it down for a few moments. This prevents the brim from getting bent. For longer-term storage, a helmet rack keeps your helmet safe, aired out and in shape.