The Definitive Guide to Cyclist Laundry


Seems ultra-simple, right?

Wash, rinse, repeat.

When I travel, laundry is important, but my laundry habits were highly variable depending on each situation. No wonder my skin was constantly pissed.

As it turns out, your laundry habits might be what’s causing skin “issues” when you ride. But thankfully, there are a few key habits that you can start to alleviate a whole lot of on-bike problems with minimal fuss.

  1. Turn your shorts inside out when you wash them! This should be self-explanatory but often gets forgotten. When your chamois isn’t facing out, a lot of gross-ness can get left behind in one wash and rinse cycle. If your shorts are super muddy, rinse them first to get the mud mostly off the outside, but always wash so the chamois gets the most attention.
  2. Use hot water, or at least warm water! Let’s kill bacteria and dissolve more of that grime, please.
  3. Consider sensitive skin detergent. I like an unscented, dye-free sensitive skin detergent, personally. Some people don’t need it, but I find cheaper detergents tend to make my skin break out. When you’re wearing lycra and sweating and have just shaved your legs, it’s already a recipe for disaster. Don’t make it worse by adding in perfumed detergent that may still be in your shorts.
  4. Speaking of that, double rinse. I love the double rinse cycle. Gets everything a little cleaner and gets rid of any extra soap. Again, not the most energy efficient, but if you truly have skin issues, this is a big one.
  5. Use the dryer. Some people really hate using the dryer on their shorts (see #6 for an alternative) but if you’re OK with it (and I personally am), using the dryer is the best way to make sure all of the bacteria that’s hanging out in your gross shorts is eradicated.
  6. Go green and hang dry, but make sure you do it where sunlight hits your shorts. In writing Saddle, Sore, I learned that UV rays can kill bacteria, so hang outside or in a window when possible. Drying in a cold, dark area takes forever and gives bacteria that survived the wash cycle the perfect chance to breed before your next ride.


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