Helmet Storage & Care
When you’re not riding, keep your helmet in a temperature-controlled environment, such as inside your home or tack room. Never use your car as helmet storage, because extreme heat and extreme cold are detrimental to the integrity of the helmet’s shock-absorbing ability. Even some barn locations are not optimal places for helmet storage, as fluctuating temperatures can be detrimental to the materials that comprise the helmet.
If your helmet gets damp inside from perspiration or outside from precipitation, allow it to air dry naturally rather than placing it near an artificial heat source. Helmet care can be aided by various cleaners that are available to keep your helmet fresh; see the “Helmet Care: Cleaning and Deodorizing” section of this article for more information. Store your helmet between uses in a fabric helmet or hat bag, that keeps it clean and protected.
Replace your helmet after a fall in which it touches the ground, even if it appears undamaged. Helmets are constructed to withstand 1 impact and therefore the energy of an impact may be absorbed through partial destruction of the helmet. You may not be able to see interior damage that occurred through trauma. Many helmet manufacturers have crash helmet replacement policies that offer you a reduction in cost for a new helmet depending on the age of yours at the time of the incident. Refer to the warranty information that accompanies your particular helmet to determine whether a crash replacement policy exists.
At a minimum, you should also replace your helmet when it turns five years old. Over time, aging helmet materials may degrade from body heat and use, and therefore may not provide the same level of protection as a new helmet would, even with proper helmet care. Additionally, helmet manufacturers are always researching technological improvements that may increase the protective qualities of their helmets— you don’t want to miss out on these advances!
Also, if the fit of your helmet becomes loose for any reason, the helmet should be replaced with one that fits properly. Refer to the article Measuring for a Helmet for help in determining proper fit.
Tip: Avoid spraying the exterior of your helmet with insect repellent or spraying your head with repellent before putting on your helmet. Chemicals in repellents have proven to be detrimental to the integrity of the helmet safety materials.
Helmet Care: Cleaning and Deodorizing
Regular helmet care is necessary and weekly cleaning is advisable to reduce accumulated perspiration and grease from your hair, which can create unwanted odors inside your helmet. There are several products to choose from to keep your helmet fresh. You can also check the warranty information that accompanies any helmet for acceptable cleaners, but never use household cleaners to freshen your helmet. Their harsh chemicals may destroy the effectiveness of the safety materials in the helmet. Similarly, never clean your helmet by running it through a dishwasher cycle.
Your hair may affect the fit of your helmet. If you have long or thick hair that you wear under your helmet, the length of your hair or the way you tie it up may change the way your helmet sits on your head. Try on new helmets with your hair in the style you ride in. If you wear your hair under your helmet, attempt to make your hair as flat to your head as possible when wearing your helmet; many people prefer to use two hair nets to obtain a sufficiently flat, snug fit. The first hair net is tied into the ponytail, and the second hair net holds the ponytail flat to the head.
Tip: If you twist your ponytail before putting on your helmet, you may create unwanted airspace in the interior of your helmet when in fact you want the helmet to encase your head snugly all around. If you change your hair length, be sure to recheck your helmet fit.