Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beginners Page # 15, Cleaning Your Shorts

 Boure shorts. No, we haven't gone commercial. It is just that I have been having trouble with my shorts fading and wearing out rapidly. And the rest of the story made me feel like a beginner again. Everything I thought I knew might have been wrong.

Within a year, my (and Christine's) shorts would fade at the seams, crotch, and Christine's last pair faded all through the back side. I have been searching for shorts that I didn't have to replace at least every year.

So, I bought a pair of Boure shorts as they have a good reputation. Within three months, my seams and around the crotch began to fade.

Boure has a great, no hassle, no time limit return policy. They state if you are ever dissatisfied, just return the product. So I did. 

Shortly, I received an email from Wade Moore of Boure Bicycling Clothing nicely asking what in the heck am I doing to my shorts?
" Are you using some sort of chamois cream or lubricant that contains petroleum product(s)?
           Did you use something like a leather treatment on your saddle?
          Has bleach been used on these shorts in the wash (perhaps in the detergent)?
        The beige part of the pad has become almost white, indicating some sort of bleaching action, which will prematurely age (harden) the elastomer in the fabric (seems to be happening)."

No, no bleach. Only Arm & Hammer Detergent with Oxi-Clean. (Wade later informed me Oxi-Clean has a bleach whitener and brightener--duh). OK. I said I would switch to dish detergent as it does not have whitener. No, don't use dish detergent, either. 

 No, no leather treatment for my saddle (stopped using my Brooks about two years ago). I didn't get a rebuttal from my using water and a rag to clean my saddle, so I guess I am doing SOMETHING right.

Of course I use Chamois Butt'r and sometimes dznuts. Doesn't everyone? That was one thing I learned early on in my riding--use a lubricant to reduce chafing.

Well, Wade had this to say about my using chamois lubricant, " I'm not sure why you are using any sort of lubricant, do you have an injury? We really don't recommend lubricants as they soak into the chamois pad and reduce it's efficiency in removing sweat while also making you hotter and wetter. Then you get softened skin, so while it masks any real issues, it increases your likelihood of having future issues."

Man, I am set back to my beginner days when I had everything to learn. Now, I have more to learn.

Wade's recommendations for taking care of shorts include:
  • Switch to a clean rinsing detergent. Wash shorts after rides using products such as Sport Wash or Planet detergent, both of which are available at the grocery store most of the time, and "Both are super clean rinsing detergents to help you get the sweat out of the chamois and let it breath." .
  • Try to wean yourself from chamois lubes of any kind except when you are injured.
While not a guarntee, Wade thinks if I make the changes in the way I clean my shorts, they should last about five years.

With my past problems of replacing shorts every year, the five year statement is quite a challenge. What I have decided to do is to follow the instructions carefully, and then run a follow up story next year to report the first year results.

 Start of the experiment. Boure sent me a new pair of shorts. Bright, even coloring, no defects. I am eager to see how they look next year.
With my shorts exchange, Wade sent me some samples of Sport-Wash to use in my cycling clothes laundry. Thank you. That was thoughtful.

A clarification: Wade responded to my request for the shorts return, answered my requests for information, and gave me suggestions as a routine customer. It was after the information and shorts exchange that I asked him if I could use his information in a blog. He agreed. I wish there were space to publish the entire exchange of correspondence, but hopefully the helpful tone came through. 

Even with Boure's liberal, no hassle exchange policy, I don't think they would look kindly to my sending back the shorts in five years proclaiming--"I did everything you suggested and my shorts still faded!!"


  1. Oh Roy! Never too old to learn, right? This was a VERY informative post. I use a "gentle washing powder" called FOREVER NEW for my delicates. Warm water soak, sometimes overnight, and things come out smelling sweet and fresh. I do notice that the colours bleed out a tad though. I will be watching for your 5 year update.

  2. I usually hand-wash my shorts and tops in Woolite and follow up with a vinegar/water rinse and they've lasted for years (yeah, I made it to 5 years ). I have always been hesitant about using creams and petroleum products on shorts. Triathletes use BodyGlide to protect their wetsuits from petroleum issues and that's what I use - even on leg grippers and waistbands. I know Boure' means well but sorry, getting tough "down there" just doesn't fly with me. BG just came out with a "Chamois" version which I just ordered online. We'll see how that goes.