Getting the Mud Out: Best Laundry Practices

Pin It
Sven Nys takes a muddy win at Namur World Cup 2011. © Bart Hazen

Getting the mud out can be tough, especially after a race like Sven Nys had at the Namur World Cup in 2011. © Bart Hazen

Since I started racing cyclocross two years ago, I’ve gone through more kit than I’d care to admit. Kits stained with mud that, no matter how many runs through the wash that they get, the mud simply will not come out. And unless your kit is brown, mud shows up even on black kit, and just doesn’t budge once it’s been through a wash-rinse-dry cycle. After countless experiments with detergents, pre-soaking, stain removers, hot water, cold water, et cetera, I still hadn’t figured out how to get the mud out.

Turns out, it’s way more simple than I thought, and I feel almost silly writing about it. But then I remember that, as a new racer, I had no idea how to handle my laundry, so there must be others like me out there.

It’s not about the detergent you use, or the application of bleach. The best tip for keeping white kit white and black kit black is simple: hose it down, while it’s still wet. After a particularly muddy weekend mountain biking a week ago, I had a laundry bag of wet kit from my friend and I sitting in my truck. I took the bikes out to hose them off, and figured I’d spray the clothes to get the big chunks of mud off before tossing them in the washer. I started spraying, expecting to see gravel come off but not much else. It turns out, though, that simply spraying the muddy gear with a reasonably high powered sprayer actually took almost all of the mud out in seconds. Pre-soak? Forget it. Go for the pre-spray while you’re outside cleaning your bike and your washing machine (and perfectly clean jersey) will thank you.

Added bonus? See how well your rinse cycle is performing: when using the sprayer, I noticed that my jersey was bubbling when I sprayed it, a good indication that all of the soap from last time it was washed hadn’t come out in the rinse. Since soaps in clothing can act as irritants, especially in sweaty conditions, knowing about this is a huge help. A double rinse cycle later, and my shorts are suds free, and my skin is less irritated after long rides!

Pre-spray and post-spray socks. © Cyclocross Magazine

Pre-spray and post-spray socks. © Cyclocross Magazine

After you spray, you can wash how you normally would. I like OxiClean, but stay tuned for a review of Chamois Butt’r newest offering, Eurostyle Sports Wash for clothing. Want to see what happens if you don’t pre-spray to get the mud out? Below, there’s a photo of my mud-stained jersey that I just tossed into the washing machine after the ride, versus the one that I sprayed with water first. The straight-to-washing-machine jersey took three cycles, including a soak in hot water with bleach, and still didn’t come out entirely. The other jersey, which was muddier initially, came out spotless since I got most of the mud out with the hose.

Pre-spraying muddy clothes is a smart move. Otherwise, your whites may not end up quite as bright. © Cyclocross Magazine

Pre-spraying muddy clothes is a smart move. Otherwise, your whites may not end up quite as bright. © Cyclocross Magazine

What’s your trick for keeping your cycling gear clean during the season? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

Cyclocross Magazine, Issue 22, Print and digital subscriptionsHave you subscribed yet? You're missing out if not. Get all-original content and your cyclocross fix throughout the year with a subscription and Issue 23 back copy, with features on Lars van der Haar, Jonathan Page, Elle Anderson and more!
Tagged as: , ,
12 comments
albee
albee

The keeping soiled clothing wet is important, so it doesn't set as well. What always works for me is elbow grease(scrubbing/rubbing) and using dish detergent - great on mud and grease. 

tombengel
tombengel

What has worked for me for years after muddy mtb races or cx races: before washing in cold water, gentle cycle, double rinse, with woolite I rinse muddy stuff in cold water and hand scrub with Fels- Naptha stain remover bar soap made by Purex. Takes the mud right out every time.

jonathangclay
jonathangclay

SimpleGreen also does a great job of getting clay mud out of white kits. I've just added it to the washing machine and things come out looking new again.

Ryan Tenge
Ryan Tenge

I totally agree with this. And what a great article. This kind of info is very useful and great for those riders just beginning to play in the mud.

Colleen MacDonald
Colleen MacDonald

I agree that the pre-rinse spray is a must, but all is not lost if you have clay heavy mud. Our area is all clay, I'm talking dirt turns to rock in the summer clay. So you can imagine the mud we get for CX. I spray the clothes in my kitchen sink with the dish sprayer (after the weather turns too cold) and then take a bar of Fels-Naptha soap to the really stubborn spots. I actually washed my daughters kit (white, light blue and red) in a hotel sink this way one weekend and it worked great. It does take a little bit of work but the time spent is more than worth it if you are having to buy new kits because they are stained and bleached!?! I won't travel to a race away from home without a bar of the Fels-Naptha because it works so good. It also works good for getting the "pit stains" out of the base layers and any stains out of the chamois too!

craigmacintyre
craigmacintyre

You can also fill a sink and "hand wash" if you don't have a sprayer handy.  However, if the mud is clay heavy it is going to be a losing battle.  Final note, the point you make about rinsing is vital - the left over soap attracts dirt and holds it in.  Use something like Woolite and Oxyclean or a new sports wash and double rinse.  Never dry - always air dry - and hope for the best

Brad Hayes
Brad Hayes

Great article, I always want to do this, but laziness almost always delays the spraying.

SeanYeager
SeanYeager

I keep gallon Ziploc bags with me- after muddy races I put my clothes in and dump some water in to keep everything wet for the drive home. 

Marc Bertucco
Marc Bertucco

Agree 100% with this laundry tip. My bike, my self and my kit all get hosed down after the seemingly always muddy, nasty Gloucester! Thankfully, they always have a great wash station too!

Gerrie Goguen
Gerrie Goguen

Not one kit gets in my washer without being sprayed! I tell my racers to take their kits to the bike wash along with their bikes.

Stay up to date:

Search for a product, review, race or racer:

Visit these cx-loving companies:





Support CXM at no extra cost to you: