This has been quite a mystery for me for several years, and I have tried multiple products along the way, but still once I’m sweating then my cycling clothes stink.
Some of the things that I was trying (scented detergent, oxy-clean, fabric softeners, drier sheets) always seemed to be only temporary masks and the ammonium odor used to come back. Usually what I notice the most is my gloves when I wiped sweat from my brow.
Cause: Ammonium odor usually means that you are burning muscle, which is caused by a lack of glycogen (sugar) to use as fuel. This often happens when you are riding at intense heart rate for extended period of time – like a fast group.
What we have found is that if you wash your cycling gear with hot water – Double Rinse them and do NOT use any fragrant products & NO clothes softeners. They are merely a temporary mask & as soon as you start sweating again, the softeners attract the scent molecules and attach to them. This causes the odor to stick around longer.
Any other helpful tips, just throw in a comment below, Thanks!!
When I first started riding, I was like any other newbie. I just rode my bike. As I rode and trained with Hans & Todd Kaib, one day after a ride it came up that something smelled foul. I think Hans got an Oscar for his round-a-bout performance of finding the culprit, Yes, my helmet.
“Don’t you wash that?” Here I had ridden across America the previous summer and never washed my helmet. “No, how do you do that?”
They really didn’t have a good answer for that one – spray it with cleaner?
But I can’t leave you hanging here. This is one area where it is not good to HTFU. The reason: When you sweat in your helmet soon enough it is going to get nasty in there. The bigger issue is that each time you sweat, it drips down your head. The danger is if that sweat happens to get into your eyes and even worse, if your eye(s) gets infected.
My father had eye-sight problems to the point he could no longer drive – although this was un-related to cycling Doctors had narrowed it down to something in his environment that had gotten the virus into his eye either while tending to chicken houses or scuba diving. Although in some ways it effected me for the better – I was hands-on while he talked me through projects around the house, I learned how to drive early, and later I had more acceptance for others that have various disabilities. I also tend to be more cautious than most people about my eye-sight. Rarely will you ever see me cycling without sunglasses. Friends pick on me about having enough sunglasses in my car for 4 passengers.
What I ended up doing is at the beginning or end of each month, I would carry my helmet with me into the shower, then throughly wash the helmet with Anti-baterial liquid soap. I think this is a great time for anti-baterial soap. You want to kill those germs! Then rinse it until all the soap has been washed away.
Washing your pads are a great way to prevent your sweat from getting too nasty – however, while cycling some things that I do or have seen used are:
1) wearing a headband
2) placing a pad inside the helmet – the answer to that question is ‘yes’. Chris swore by this method.
3) take a typical chapstick and draw an upside down ‘V’ that follows just above your eyebrows – the wax will push most of the sweat along the top of it, away from your eyes.
So, you should wash monthly and change your pads yearly – safety first!