Kit FAQs: remove bike grease from clothes, wash cycling shorts + more! Back to top
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How to remove bike grease from clothes
(+ 12 other essential kit care FAQs!)

Have you ever found bike grease smeared all over your best cycling kit and spent ages (unsuccessfully) trying to remove it?

Or pondered whether it’s okay to wash your cycling shorts in the machine?

Our kit partners Stolen Goat, and cycle-kit-repairers-extraordinaire Clothes Doctor, have recently launched a new sports wash (more on that here).

To mark that exciting event, we asked them to share their expert kit care tips with us. We sent them a list of all the kit questions we've often wondered about - and they sent us back the answers.

One important point to note: while their answers should be useful for all cycling kit, as you'll appreciate Stolen Goat can't vouch for all brands and not all kit is made the same, so it's worth double-checking the instructions for your own kit if you are in any doubt.

Read on to find out how to remove bike grease from your cycling clothes, how best to wash your cycling shorts, and lots more!

sponsored by stolen goat logo

1. How to remove bike grease from clothes?

Removing bike grease/oil stains from your clothes is tricky (sorry!).


The key thing is to do your best to tackle it as soon as possible after it happens. Once oil and grease has dried it’s much harder to remove.


Flush the stain with cool water to try and push out as much of the stain as possible. Let the water run from the back of the stain. If the stain is fresh, rubbing gently with liquid detergent/dishwasher liquid and warm water straight away, may be enough to get the stain out.


If it’s not working, try this trick – mix some bicarbonate of soda to a paste with warm water and leave it to dry on the stain. This will help draw the grease out before washing as normal.


Try all these with patience, before you attack any stain with your bike degreaser….!


And a final thought - hang to dry rather than using the tumble dryer (you shouldn’t really be using the dryer anyway (more on this below!) and it can set in the stain).

2. How to wash cycling shorts (and other cycling kit)?

In an ideal world, as with any item of clothing that you want to look great for as long as possible, bike shorts (and cycling kit generally) would always be very delicately and lovingly hand washed.


But let’s be honest. The reality is that hand washing can be impractical and unrealistic.


So we say putting your cycling kit through a normal wash IS okay, as long as you stick to the following rules:

  • Use a 30 degree cycle (40 is probably ok too if you’re brave!)
  • Use a liquid detergent, preferably a sports detergent, designed especially for synthetic and performance fabric. Definitely avoid anything with stain removers or bleach in.
  • Do not ever, EVER use fabric softener (see below for more info).
  • Don’t wash kit with anything containing any abrasive/hard materials eg. poppers/clasps, and most importantly, no velcro – so what ever you do, don’t be tempted to get back from a ride and chuck every single muddy item into the same wash. For example, some overshoes/gloves have velcro on – don’t put them in! Also don’t be tempted to wash your kit with normal clothes - a heavy pair of jeans over a series of washes can cause considerable damage to a jersey.
  • Zip up any jerseys/jackets and turn them inside out – this simply means that the outside of the jersey is more protected, and zip teeth are less likely to cause any abrasion on other garments.
  • Check your pockets! Gels wrappers, half eaten bars, CO2 and canisters do nothing to enhance the washing of your kit!

3. What’s the best detergent for cycling clothes?

Obviously, we would recommend Stolen Goat’s own collaboration
sports wash
. Developed especially for synthetic fabrics, it’s effective,
vegan and smells great with natural fragrances. It's also totally free
from palm-oil.


Otherwise, we recommend looking for liquid detergents rather than
powder and definitely avoid any that contain bleach. Ultimately performance fabrics require care to stay at their best.


The best detergent for cycling clothes, a collaboration between The Clothes Doctor and Stolen Goat

Eco Wash for Sportswear by Stolen Goat and Clothes Doctor

4. Is it okay to use fabric softener with cycling kit?

No! Fabric softener is cycling kit’s second worst enemy (after velcro!).


Fabric softener can inhibit the moisture wicking properties of fabric, as well as the water-repellent properties and breathability of the fabric. So it’s not a good idea to use it on any garment which needs these qualities to function at its best – i.e. pretty much any cycling clothing!


If you do use softener, what you’ll end up with is a fabric that feels, looks and acts very differently to how it was intended. For example the reduced moisture wicking function means that it won’t absorb water and wick moisture from the skin properly.


Another effect we have seen occasionally is some stretch (loss of elasticity) in a fabric, leading to slightly baggy bits on your bib shorts, or looseness on the leg grippers.


5. Any tips for how to wash cycling clothes when away on holiday?

Sometimes washing cycling clothes while away from home becomes necessary. After all, re-wearing a pair of bib shorts is really not advisable, as you’re often covering a lot of miles, and bacteria in the chamois will contribute to the development of saddle sores.


Even if you’re lucky enough to have copious amounts of kit with you, leaving worn kit to fester for a week until you return isn’t advisable!


If you decide to use the hotel’s laundry, make sure you fill out the form in detail and make sure they follow the instructions above!


Alternatively, you may need to resort to hand-washing. Use liquid detergent or sports wash, and make sure you spend time cleaning the chamois well.


At the very least worn kit should be aired before being packed into the suitcase!


Laundromats are an option for washing your cycling kit while on holiday

Don't leave your kit festering while you're on your cycling holiday!

6. Any tips for drying my cycling clothes?

Air drying your kit is always best if you possibly can – our kit is super fast drying, so unless you need it again within a few hours, there’s really no need to tumble dry it.


Avoid drying your kit over radiators. This can be an incredibly intense and high heat which could affect the integrity of the fabric.


Make sure bib shorts/tights are hung inside out. The pad is the part that will take the longest to dry, so you want to maximise the air that can get to this part.

7. Can you tumble dry cycling kit?

As mentioned above, our kit is super fast drying and it’s always best to air dry it. That said, if you really must tumble dry, do so at a low heat (and inside out to protect the outside from abrasion.)


Other than for our cycling caps (see below), we haven’t found that tumble drying at a low heat causes the fabric to be affected in any way, but each time you tumble dry you’re essentially adding more wear to the garment, so it makes sense to do it as little as possible.


One item you should always avoid tumble drying is a cycling cap – the heat will melt the plastic peak causing it to lose shape pretty quickly.


You may also find that garments with reflective piping will be
damaged by heat either in washing machines or tumble-dryers. Best
to avoid if you can.


Man looking into a tumble dryer

Finding photos for this kind of article is tricky - but the look of cheesy confusion on this guy's face made us laugh. Hope it makes you smile too!

8. How do I keep white jerseys (and base layers) white?

Things you can do

Washing your white jerseys and base layers separately from the rest of your laundry is a really simple way of keeping them white. Mixing colours in the machine may cause whites to turn grey or dull, as the colour may run from other garments.


Also remember to avoid overfilling your washing machine. Overloading can prevent our cycling kit from cleaning properly. This is because the garments need to be able to freely move to clean efficiently and for the detergent to interact with clothes during the washing cycle.


Finish by drying whites outdoors as the sun will help brighten garments as well as helping to remove stains.


We’d also recommend checking your whites before drying them and re-washing if necessary. Once the stains are dried in they’re much harder to remove.


If you’re willing to go the extra mile, regularly cleaning your washing machine will help as there may be some residual colour which can lead to discolouration.


Also try using cotton garment bags to protect garments when they aren’t being worn.


Products to use

There are two tricks that work here.


1. The first is adding bicarbonate of soda to your wash.


Using bicarbonate of soda makes the water softer, enhancing the intensity of your liquid detergent. This is well known to give much sharper whites!


2. The second is to try using white vinegar.


It contains acetic acid which gently cuts through any residues and dirt which gives the result of brightening colours, including white. Do make sure you choose distilled white vinegar. It contains no tannins (natural plant dyes) that can stain clothes and it is less expensive.


Both bicarbonate soda and white vinegar are also very kind to your washing machine as they protect it against limescale - which in turn is going to mean a better wash for your kit!


Products to avoid

What you should always avoid is any products that have ‘whighter than white’ as a slogan – they are very likely to contain bleach, which is a definite no for washing cycling kit.


9. How do I remove mud stains from my cycling kit?

Since fresh/wet stains are much easier to remove than dried ones, we recommend washing garments as soon as possible after wearing. Keep the kit damp if possible by placing it in a bag or hosing it down, until you are able to wash it.


Try pre-soaking heavily covered kit (or your most precious kit) with liquid detergent before putting it in the washing machine, to remove most of the mud.


Great tip here: when pre-soaking or washing muddy kit in the machine, always use warm or cool water, never hot. This can actually set stains in.


For really stubborn stains, it may take a little bit more care and attention. Soak in bicarbonate of soda and warm water for about half an hour and gently (very gently) rub the affected areas with bicarbonate of soda directly, either with your fingers, or a smooth cloth – no brushes/rough cloths to be used though!


In the main wash, add some bicarbonate of soda. It cuts through dirt and grease amazingly well, and coupled with the detergent, will make a real difference.


To ensure maximum efficiency, don’t overfill the machine. Try the large load setting if you’ve got one to help maximise cleaning power.

10. How to wash stinky clothes (e.g. well-worn summer jerseys)?

If a normal wash isn’t quite cutting through the BO issue, you may need to spend a little more time rejuvenating your kit.


Here, bicarbonate of soda is once again your friend!


Mix it with warm water to form a paste and rub it gently into the underarms before washing.


If it’s really bad, leave the paste to dry for a couple of hours so that it has maximum time to work its magic.


After that, simply wash as normal (following the rules!)


Similarly, you could try the distilled white vinegar trick or our new Eco Wash for Sportswear. Either soak your kit in white vinegar/Eco Wash and warm water prior to washing or simply add it to the wash.


how to wash cycling shorts in a washing machine overflowing with bubbles

Does this kind of thing actually happen?! 

11. Do I need to do anything to look after the waterproofing in the orkaan/climb and conquer kit?

This one is specific to the Stolen Goat Orkaan collection and our Climb & Conquer jackets which are made from waterproof fabrics with water repellency built in during the manufacturing process.


The beauty of this approach is that washing doesn’t affect their integrity, and you don’t need to re-proof them by washing/spraying.


Should your Orkaan show signs of losing water resistance, the good news is that you should be able to get it back to "new" without any extravagant process to worry about. Since the water-resistance is built into the fabric rather than an external coating, you can simply reactivate it with heat. Put it through a tumble dryer (on a low heat setting at around 60 degrees if you have it) and the heat will do the trick.


The simplest way is probably to put it in next time you wash it, rather than doing a separate attempt, but either should work.

12. Any tips for washing overshoes?

Either hand wash these in warm water, with a small about of laundry detergent, or simply chuck them in with the rest of your kit (providing they have no velcro on them!).


If they are particularly mucky, it is worth rinising them by hand first to get most of the mud out and finish them in the machine.

13. What do I do if a fault develops with my Stolen Goat kit?

Whilst you can do all these things to prolong the life of your kit for as long as possible, everyday wear and tear, repeated washing and mishaps may take their toll on your beloved kit over the years.


But relax, at Stolen Goat, we’ve got you covered!


We want you to have the freedom to choose beautiful kit that matches your personality and gets you out on the roads and trails safe in the knowledge that you are buying a quality product that will last for many happy miles.


Thanks to our partnership with Clothes Doctor, ALL of our clothing is covered by our lifetime guarantee. We want every bit of kit we produce to last as long as it possibly can – it’s sustainable, it’s achievable and it is what you deserve. You can read all about our lifetime guarantee here.


Stolen goat cycling kit being repaired by Clothes Doctor under lifetime guarantee

Tri suit being skilfully repaired by the team at Clothes Doctor

What next?!

A big thank you to Stolen Goat and Clothes Doctor for their tips! If you've got any more questions for them, feel free to comment below. Likewise, if you've got any tips for keeping your kit looking fantastic, share them below.

Want to know a bit more about Eco Wash for Sportswear? Check it out here.

Stolen Goat sports wash for cycling kit


Read on!

For more info on Stolen Goat's kit and our in-depth reviews, click here.

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