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