Stinky Bike Clothes? Here’s a Solution

With the heat wave wracking much of our country now, my bike rides end with my bike clothes dripping. I’m a sweaty guy anyway, but lately it’s been ridonkulous. Not only is the sweat a problem, but the stink from the sweaty clothes permeates the rest of the stuff in our hamper.

Usually, my wife and I will pile our dirties on top of the washing machine after a ride. It’s not uncommon to do three different loads of just cycling gear during the week. At least that keeps them away from the rest of our stuff.

Still, they reek. I finally decided to find out what can be done to mitigate the odiferous offensiveness. The answer: Hydrogen Peroxide.

This common household product is credited with a variety of different uses, some that have credence, others that lack it. However, as a bleach and an antiseptic, it does have properties that would seem to make it a good odor fighter. We bought a couple of bottles

Long story short — it works. My wife adds a third of a cup of H2O2 to our bike clothes wash load. After the first two weeks of this, she made this observation:

“The bike clothes smell a lot better. I wish we’d started using that hydrogen peroxide a lot earlier.”

It does work well. My two most-worn jerseys don’t carry that “permafunk” anymore. However, I noticed that my oldest jersey — a four-year old cheapie from Nashbar — still had a slight aroma when I put it on the other day for a short neighborhood ride. It could be the jersey’s age, or maybe the fiber content. Anyway, it still needs some corrective action.

One caution: hydrogen peroxide is a bleach. Most websites I’ve seen that talk about the benefits of HP suggest using it on whites in the wash to make them come out whiter, without resorting to chlorine-based bleach.

But with biking clothes, we haven’t had a problem. The jersey colors are still vibrant, with no trace of fading.

It looks like we’re in for a long, hot summer. I just bought another big bottle of hydrogen peroxide when I made our grocery store run today.


  1. says

    I’ve got a special basket in our laundry room reserved for what Pam calls my “stinkies”. That keeps them out of the normal wash and our closet.

    We’ve been adding a splash of ammonia to each wash load to fight the odor. It helps also that we usually run my stuff through a pre-wash cycle on the “extra dirty” setting.

  2. deedee says

    a cheaper solution: white vinegar. <$4 for 1.5 gallons at the costco. a good slug in the wash cycle will de-stink your stinky bike gear. i promise.


  3. says

    For years I have added a 1/4 cup of Pinesol when washing loads of laundry that are either extra grimy or have the potential to get/be stinky: bath towels, husband’s dirty clothes when working in the yard, and now all my cycling clothes. Works like a charm!

  4. Don says

    I guess everyone has a different method. Here is what works for me: After a ride I hang my bike clothes in the garage to let them dry and air out. I wash them in cold water with a fine fabric detergent, now I am using Woolite Complete. I rinse them twice because the washing instructions on much of my bike gear says to do so because scent from the detergent can stick to the material. I then line dry everything.

  5. RamonH says

    +1 on Don’s suggestion to hang bike clothes. I hang my jersey, helmet and gloves. By doing this, the air dries the jersey and helmet and they don’t smell anymore. I could probably wear the jersey a couple of times doing this. Now the gloves, those are different story :(

  6. says

    I take mine into the shower with me, put some shampoo on them and stomp on them like grapes. I started doing this while commuting to work and often think of my mother washing our clothes in the tub with a washboard.

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