Textile riding gear is one of the most affordable forms of body protection for riders, looking after your body in the event of an off. But how do you return the favour? Today we’re looking into the subject of looking after your textiles.

With the cooler weather, my leathers have been hung up, but I’ve noticed my favourite set of waterproof textiles is getting a bit grubby… okay, so a LOT grubby. Textiles are great for wet weather, but they also take a real thrashing from the elements, bugs, mud, and all manner of everything else you’re likely to encounter on the roads (especially when you get stuck behind a stock truck – yuck!) So how do you keep your textiles clean without damaging them? After all, you wear them to protect you, and if they’re not in tip top shape what use are they?


Before you even fill the tub with water, you’re going to want to remove everything from your jacket. This means popping out all the armour, removing the lining (if it has one), and checking the pockets for any loose change or other items that you might not want to get wet.


While some riders are more than happy to entrust their gear to the washing machine gods, I’m not that trusting of technology and prefer the safety of washing my gear by hand. This means you’ll need either a large bucket or a bathtub for washing your textiles by hand. While it is a lot more hands-on (duh!) you’ll find you can achieve a better result by washing by hand than the machine can achieve. You can also ensure that delicate parts are looked after and not subjected to too much abrasion.

You’ll want to fill your tub/bucket with warm water – not hot. The warm water will help to loosen up any deposits or bug carcasses that have made your gear home. For a basic clean you can bust out a soft brush and go for gold, but if you want to do it properly you’ll want to get your hands on a specialist cleaning product. Most manufacturers will have their own specially formulated wash product, but most do the same job. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer or your local bike shop for your specific application.


Adding a bit of fabric softener into your wash might seem like a good idea. Who doesn’t like soft fabrics on their skin? When it comes to your riding gear though fabric softener is a big no-no. Due to the chemicals involved, fabric softener will do more harm than good, especially if your gear contains special waterproof membranes. Leave it out to ensure your gear still works as it should at the end of the wash.


Make sure when it comes to the actual wash you don’t attack it like a bull at a gate. Take your time and go softly. Textiles are often made of multiple weaves of varying fabric types, so it pays to tread light lightly when it comes to scrubbing them up. Use a soft bristled brush or a sponge to gently work out all the road gunk from the fabric.


Now you’ve removed all the gunk from your gear you’ll want to rinse off any product that may be hiding in between the gaps. This will not only ensure that you don’t have anything stuck on it to cause leaks, it’ll also ensure you don’t suffer any reactions to the cleaner if it comes into contact with your skin. The last thing you’ll want is an itchy rash out on the bike!


Now your gear is clean you want to get it dry. Don’t be tempted to chuck your textiles into the dryer on high to dry it quickly, though, as too much heat will damage the textile fabric. Find a shady spot out of the sun and hang your gear up on a hanger. If you want to speed the process set up a household fan up directed at your gear to push a bit of wind through it. It’ll take a while so don’t have a ride planned for immediately after you’ve given your gear a wash.


To ensure your textiles keep you dry should a rogue shower hit you out on the road, you might want to apply a waterproof spray to them. Just like the cleaner, you’ll find most manufacturers have their own product they recommend. 


Now the fabric of your gear is all sorted, don’t forget to chuck the armour back in. There’s not much point in going to all the effort to then forget to put the important armour (the stuff that stops your bones from breaking) back in to your nice clean jacket or trou’.


When it comes to your gear, you want to make sure its best looked after. If you’re in doubt in any way on how to best care for your specific textile jacket or trousers, always read the information sheet that came with them for the manufacturer recommended procedure.


If you don’t have a bathtub (which with the way houses are built these days is a real possibility), you can use your washing machine to get your gear clean. While we obviously prefer the hand wash method, if you have to use the machine, there’s a couple of quick tips to make sure it does the job properly.

1. Make sure all your armour is out of your gear before you put it into the machine.
2. Wash on a warm water setting, not hot to ensure the grime can be worked out and the fabric won’t get heat damaged. You’ll also want to use liquid detergent instead of powder, as washing powder can work its way into the weave of the textiles and cause leaks and more.
3. Put it on a delicate cycle – this will prevent your gear taking too much abrasion within the machine.
4. Rinse twice to make sure all the detergent has been flushed out of the jacket.
5. Air dry outside
6. Chuck your armour back in and hit the road. Job Done.