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How to Avoid the Stink When Riding to Work


  • You smell after riding because of sweat, exhaust fume, and lack of hygiene
  • Minimize smell by using deodorant, changing eating habits, and using the right gear
  • Clean the motorcycle and riding gear regularly
  • Take care of the riding accessories

You’ve had a great ride on your motorcycle to work, but now you’re in the office and realize that you reek of exhaust and sweat. What are you going to do?

Are you one of those people who think that riding your bike to work is the best way to commute? Well, I am too, but it’s not without its problems.

One of the worst is when you get to work and realize that you smell terrible from the ride. It happens to everyone at least once, but it doesn’t have to. You can avoid that problem if you’re willing to put in a little extra effort before setting off on your ride.

I will explain how anyone can keep themselves smelling fresh after a motorcycle ride in this article.

Why Do You Smell After a Motorcycle Trip?

It’s common for motorcyclists to arrive at work and wonder why they smell so bad. Many factors can cause body odor, including sweating, exhaust fumes, heat, bacteria, hormones, and stress.

After a motorcycle ride, you may smell like gasoline and oil because the exhaust from your bike leaves an oily residue on everything it touches. This includes your clothing, skin, and hair. The odor becomes unpleasant after being combined with sweat and other body fluids.

The condition could worsen in the summer when the temperatures and humidity are high. You sweat more, and the sweat contains oil to feed your skin bacteria. These bacteria produce the scents we perceive as “body odor.”

RELATED: Summer Riding: How to Stay Healthy in Extreme Heat

How to Prevent Smelling Bad After a Motorcycle Ride

Riding to work is a great way to save money and avoid traffic. In fact, if you live in a city, riding your bike to work will probably get you there much faster than taking the train or other public transport.

But there is one downside: you might wind up smelling like an un-flossed dog’s mouth by the time your day is done. If you’re a motorcycle rider, you’re likely used to gasoline, oil, and exhaust stink. But your colleagues may not feel the same.

Here are some tips for avoiding “bike funk” while riding to work:

Start your ride fresh

Deodorize as much as possible before you go. Some people know this trick, and others don’t.

Buy unscented deodorant and a bottle of cologne. Put the cologne on before you put the deodorant on, and voila! You smell like a million bucks without even trying. It’s cheap, easy, and effective.

use deodorant before riding
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Avoid eating garlic

The food you eat affects your body odor. Garlic is notorious for causing foul body odor. If you can’t avoid eating it, try to eat it sparingly so it doesn’t have a strong smell.

Other food items you’d want to cut back on are onions, cabbage, broccoli, and spices with strong smells. In general, the smell of food with sulfur lingers in your breath and body.

Wear breathable clothing

Choose pieces with good airflow that won’t trap sweat against your skin. Your skin needs room to breathe, so make sure your outfit has lots of vents.

Heavy clothing traps sweat and oils between the fabric and your skin, creating an overwhelming smell.

Remember that black clothing absorbs heat, so lighter colors are better for staying cool during hot weather rides.

Use cooling gear

Invest in cooling gear like a cooling vest or riding gear with good airflow (like mesh).

These products will help regulate your temperature and prevent overheating during long rides in hot weather like summertime heat waves.

Drink plenty of water

Hydrate. It’s a great way to manage sweat. Sweat is natural but can get stinky when it isn’t managed properly. Drinking water throughout the day helps flush out toxins and bacteria, making sweat less smelly than it usually does. So hydrate often.

drink water
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Keep an extra set of clothes

Bring another clothing set to you to work, if possible. Many people carry a small backpack to ride to work, which makes this easy.

How Can You Minimize the Smell on Your Motorcycle?

There’s no point if you smell fresh, but your motorcycle stinks like a garbage truck.

Make sure your motorcycle is clean. It’s applicable for any vehicle you drive, especially a bike. Wipe down the seat and handlebars with a damp cloth after every ride to remove sweat, grime, and other nasty stuff.

You can also use an anti-bacterial cleaning product on your grips, footrests, and tank cover, as these areas are particularly susceptible to bacteria buildup.

Use specific products to keep germs at bay. Parents know you should never attempt to eat in a car without baby wipes handy—and the same principle applies here.

A bottle of WD-40 or Armor All will disinfect all those hard-to-reach places where germs love to hide out: under the seat, around bolts and screws, in crevices on your handlebars, and footrests.

Armor All Interior Cleaner Spray Bottle

  • Clean and enhance paint color
  • Protects from UV rays
  • Prevents cracking and fading
  • Increases the lifespan of vinyl and rubber

If these areas are cleaned regularly enough, there won’t be any bacteria to stink up your ride.

How Can You Prevent Helmet Odor?

Motorcycle helmets can stink after a ride due to the sweat and other smells trapped inside. The sweat and oil on the head combined with the bacteria from your skin create an unpleasant odor.

If the stench is too pungent after every ride, try these tips:

  • Wash the helmet regularly if the interior padding is removable.
  • Make sure your helmet has good ventilation.
  • Wear a moisture-wicking liner under the helmet.
  • Use an anti-bacterial spray for the interior and the shell after every cleaning.
  • Apply anti-odor products inside the helmet but be careful about choosing the right product. You don’t want to pick up some funky new aroma because of it.
cleaning motorcycle helmet
Clean the helmet regularly.

How to Take Care of Your Riding Accessories to Prevent Odor

Accessories like goggles, boots, and riding gloves can all create smells if not taken care of.

Here are some tips to help you take good care of your motorcycle riding accessories so that you don’t have to deal with offensive smells.

Clean your motorcycle accessories after every ride.

Dirt, oil, and gas can build up on your motorcycle riding gear over time, creating smells that other riders will find unpleasant. Wash all of your equipment regularly to keep it smelling fresh and clean.

Keep helmets clean and dry.

The inside of a helmet should be kept free of dirt, sweat, and rainwater so that odors don’t form. Wipe the inside with a cloth or brush after each ride to help remove any debris buildup.

Store your motorcycle riding gear in a clean, dry place.

Your accessories will last longer if they are stored in a clean, organized space free of dust and other allergens. Be sure to keep every item separately.


There you have it. Here are a few simple tips and tricks to keep on and around your bike so you don’t arrive at your office smelling like you’ve spent the morning leisurely pedaling through a swamp. Following these tips will surely help you keep your colleagues happy.

FAQs about Avoiding the Stink When Riding to Work

How can I prevent body odor while commuting?

Prior to commuting, shower using an anti-bacterial body wash. Apply an aluminum-free antiperspirant to armpits and feet. Wear loose, breathable fabrics like cotton. Carry wet wipes to freshen up and wipe sweaty areas.

How do I remove stale sweat smell from clothes?

Wash clothes using hot water and detergent containing enzymes to break down odor molecules. Add 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar or 1/4 cup baking soda to the wash cycle. Line dry in the sunshine when possible.

How can I prevent sweat stains on my motorcycle jacket?

Wear a sweat-wicking base layer under your jacket. Apply an antiperspirant to your underarms before putting on your gear. Consider a water-resistant or waterproof jacket to help repel sweat. Clean your jacket frequently with a special detergent for wicking materials.

How do I get rid of motorcycle helmet smell?

Wash the padding in your helmet with a mild detergent and air dry. Stuff crumpled newspaper inside the helmet and leave it in direct sunlight for a few days. Spray the inside of the helmet with an antimicrobial spray or mix equal parts vinegar and water and use a towel to wipe it down.

What should I wear under my motorcycle gear?

The best base layers for riding are moisture-wicking underwear, shirts and socks made from synthetic or merino wool. Avoid cotton as it absorbs sweat and takes longer to dry. Wear thin ventilated over-the-calf socks to wick moisture away from your feet and boots.

How can I protect my riding gloves from smelling?

Wash gloves frequently using a gentle laundry detergent. Let gloves air dry completely between wears. Use antibacterial hand soap to wash your hands before putting on gloves. Consider using glove liners made from materials like silk or linen that naturally resist odor.

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