Commuting 101 : Don’t Have a Shower?

One large complaint or worry for beginner bike commuters is the lack of showering, or showing up sweaty to work. This is a valid worry and shouldn’t be overlooked as your employer, co-worker or client may not appreciate the “biker look.”

Top tips if you don’t have a shower at work

Photo Credit : Fritz
Photo Credit : Fritz
  • Wear wicking clothing. I actually avoid wearing padded shorts in the morning as it creates a “funk” that you can’t avoid. If my commute is shorter in distance, I find a comfortable saddle and wear a stretchy, breathable pair of shorts. Either a jersey, or tech-t on top, comfortable shoes or maybe my cycling shoes for longer distances.
  • Action Wipes. No joke, go buy them. I’m not paid or bribed to say this (I have to say that by law,) but Action Wipes are in all my saddle bags and in my desk at work. A quick “pocket shower” with Action Wipes and re-installation of deodorant and I’m fresh!
  • Bring extra clothes. Don’t worry about working up a sweat as you can use your Action Wipes to clean up and then put on all new clean clothes. Also, I am saying put on a whole new outfit from top to bottom. Putting on clean clothes and dirty socks doesn’t give you the same “fresh” feeling.
  • If you may need it, keep a spare at work. This means everything you can’t do without. Not just clothes, but also extra tubes, lube, and tools.
  • If all else fails, start stinking in very important meetings and maybe they will install a shower at your workplace.

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30 thoughts on “Commuting 101 : Don’t Have a Shower?”

  1. Chris Parker says:

    If you have a one-stall bathroom available to you, there’s a lot you can do . . . keep soap a washcloth and small towel at work and wash your face and whip off your shirt and get your underarms. When needed.

  2. Johnny says:

    Action Wipes are spendy… i like baby wipes from Costco. One $20 box and you’re set for the next 3 lifetimes (unless you have kids, of course).

  3. Marc says:

    I take the “change of clothes” option at my workplace, because with the increased humidity of summer, it makes more sense than to ride with a t-shirt and swim trunks than with pants. This means cramming it all into my backpack, which now has to weigh 30 pounds, but I’ve made the best speed on my commute in months!

    As for stinkin’, I find that dunking your head under the sink tap really helps – and keeping a stick of deodorant in your bag.

  4. Tony Bullard says:

    I’m here to also say that Baby Wipes work fine for me. Much cheaper than fancy action wipes.

  5. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    After years of biking to work, I now work in a building with showers…. But I am so use to having one I still do it the old way..
    >carry all my clothes
    >All the food for the day
    >Tools, tubes and everything else

    If rain, then I ride a bike with front and rear panniers so I have room for rain gear..

    Wicking clothes – I LOVE them. This morn was about 65f, humid and a light headwind and as always, I ride hard and stay comfortable. When I get to work is when I can tell I’m sweating. I don’t rush and let my self cool down. Then spash water and wipe with a towel. When I feel clean, I then change in to work clothes.

    Riding thousands of commuter miles each year, I don’t seem to sweat that much.. Kind of like when an un-fit person walks to their car, but I do 6.5 miles (as much as 10 miles)

  6. Sean says:

    If you use a backpack or messenger bag, wash it periodically too and use Febreeze to defunk it between washes. The panel that rests against your back tends to develop a poly-pew over time.

    I second the change of everything at work. I have an armoir style cabinet in my office, which I removed the inner shelves from and inserted a compression style chin up bar into. Fits several shirts and pants on pant hangers and the file drawers underneath act as dresser drawers for shoes, socks, etc.

    A garment bag and coat hook can give you room for a couple changes of clothes too.

  7. Charlie says:

    I work at a financial services company and bike to work every day. Our office is business casual. I just bike in my work clothes but I keep a slow to moderate pace as to not sweat too much. If anything, I’ll just wash my face and reapply deodorant if needed. This whole showering and changing clothes phenomenon is very overrated in my opinion.

  8. joey says:

    Second what Charlie wrote. You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong out there. Go slow and it’s no problem.

  9. Murali says:

    My solution is to commute earlier in the morning when it is cooler, and to keep my pace down.

    I commute in my work clothes, which would trap a lot of heat, but I generate very little by going 12-15 mph.

  10. Israel says:

    I concur with those who just keep an easy pace on the way to work. If I have energy, I kick it up a notch on the way home. I also am usually a three season bicycle commuter, which means I bike from winter to spring and give it a rest for the summer. If bicycling commuting becomes such a chore, then it’s hard to do and will fall by the wayside–keep it simple. Allow a little extra time and you’ll have a pleasant ride and arrive refreshed, not a mess.

  11. Share the Road in Ohio says:

    As upper management I needs to look (and smell good every day) so I do not ride in my work clothes. I roll my daily change of clothes before putting in travel bag or backpack. Helps avoid wrinkles. Putting smelly clothes on is counterproductive. Also use Shower to Shower Absorbent or Baby Body Powder on your neck and chest (or wherever else needed)after washing up or using the wipes. Your body perspires in more places than just under the arms. Use powder to feel dry, fresh and comfortable throughout the day. I also have full shaving kit in my drawer. And I also pick up the pace on the way home.

  12. […] Commuting 101 : Don't Have a Shower? | Commute by Bike […]

  13. Kevin Love says:

    I’m with those who don’t bike so fast that they work up a muck sweat. Going to work is not a race. In NL, bicycle commute mode share is 37% and the percentage of employers that provide showers is approximately zero.

  14. Marc says:

    Unfortunately, I sweat if I walk a block, and it’s not from lack of exercise – I’ve been bike commuting for over a year! My body just sweats more than most.

    I do like the suggestion of talcum powder – I might add that to my kit!

  15. jamesmallon says:

    I have different clothing and bathing options for different times of year, many listed above. However, here’s one that is a bit intimate and highly effective for ripeness not limited to cycling: use your razor and clippers where needed below the neck… Hair traps scent; lack of hair, less so.

  16. Columbus Commuter says:

    On hot and humid mornings, I slow down a bit. I have showered before I leave so even if I work up a little sweat, I consider it clean sweat. As others have said I also keep clean clothes in the office and wear shorts and T-shirts, etc on the ride. A splash of water on face, hair comb, maybe a little deodorant and presto-chango I enter the nine to five work force. I have been bike commuting for six years, 12 mos. a year and I love it.

  17. jessie d says:

    I wouldn’t ride as frequently if i didn’t have a shower. not because i’m vain, but because I work at a ski resort and have to ride straight UPHILL for the last 4 miles. I never sweat so much! And I’m not allowed to wear hats at work (unless its my lame ‘uniform’ ball cap), so helmet hair needs to be addressed. Fortunately my office is a hotel room, so i have my own private full bathroom!
    Oh how i miss my 1 mile commute I did on my cruiser bike!

  18. Johnny says:

    Unless you’re commuting year round, 30 miles per day in PDX. In that case it’s not really feasible. For the <5 mile flat summer commute i guess that would work fine. You're right about the Lance Armstrong affect though. Too many people get caught up in competitive commuting. Idiots the lot of 'em if you ask me. Take it easy and enjoy the ride I say.

  19. John says:

    I have been commuting to work by cycling and/or running for a few years. I’m in Austin Texas and it gets HOT here, even in the morning. Sometimes I arrive so drenched in sweat, I can wring out my clothes (yes, they’re tech fabrics – which DO help). I never worry about it, though, because the following steps work extremely well:

    1. I take a shower right before I leave home. BO doesn’t come from sweat, it comes from bacteria on your skin. Start clean and you have the problem half way solved.
    2. When I get to work I allow for 15 minutes of cool down next to my desk fan. (Cut this step out and you end up getting your work clothes sweaty.)
    3. I keep soap and deodorant at work. I take a quick sponge bath at the bathroom sink with the washcloth I packed in my panniers.
    4. I carry work clothes in my panniers, if I cycled, or in my backpack if I ran it. I change and then I’m good to go for the day. If this didn’t work, believe me, my coworkers would let me know!

    My wash up and change only takes about 10 minutes.

    I use my commute to train for duathlons and trail races, so I push the pace and often arrive pretty sweaty and sometimes covered in mud.

  20. Mila says:

    Any suggestions from girls about hair sweat? I can get mostly clean with wipes, but as mentioned above, hair traps sweat!


  21. Shetha says:

    If I go slow on my 12.5 mi commute, I’d have to turn around and go back as soon as I got to work! I am lucky to have enough flexibility to leave after my childcare drop off, so I don’t squander what little time I have to go so far. I’m not Lance. I’ve just got a short time to go a long way, that’s all. To clean up I use a washcloth, soap, and water. I keep a spare stash of clothes at work, and sometimes carry clothes in my backpack. I have used the “olay” facial wipes before but they’re pretty spendy.

  22. Tom Bowden says:

    I don’t use cloth towels anymore. I have a synthetic chamois swim towel that rolls up in a plastic tube about the size of a big can of iced tea. It is incredibly effective and I wash it out in the shower each morning before using it to dry off. Occasionally it goes into the washing machine. If you wanted to, you could easily have two or three and cycle them so that one is always super clean and fresh. I haven’t tried sport wipes but I bet that the combination would be quite effective too. Possibly using a swim towel moistened by witch hazel to clean up, and then another with water, which is wrung out and then used to dry off would be a workable sustainable solution.

  23. Maranda says:

    I’ve heard that dry shampoo works well for absorbing the sweat and oil. Might be worth a try. If you’re actively commuting and have no way to rinse off I’d say keep you hair on the shorter side.

  24. vjulie says:

    Everyone knows how uncomfortable it is going into work a bit sweaty, especially in the summer. To add to what Maranda said about dry shampoo, you can also sprinkle baby powder on your roots and comb it through to absorb the sweat and oil. With money tight it is hard to get a gym membership with just shower access, though it seems like it is the best option (especially if there is one close to your work!) However, through my employer I began to save money on my commute to work and with the money I save, I put towards a gym membership! It all works out in the end. You should check it out at Best of luck!

  25. monlckhrt says:

    I always carry dry shampoo with me, it’s the best quick-fix I’ve found.

  26. Dandapanda says:

    All good advice. My office does not have single/private bathrooms, but the has station next to us does. I can clean up pretty well in there and grab a powerade before work. Look for places very near your work that may help. If there is a gym maybe you could get a full shower and some quick weight training every once and a while.

  27. Urban commuter says:

    I don’t even care. I’m a professional in an office, and I roll into work in bike shorts and and shirt (if too hot, no shirt). I just have a change of clothes sitting in my office and send them to the cleaner near work. If I stink, tough nuts. I’m paid for my skills and knowledge, not for my smell. I put on pit-stick, and nobody has ever complained. This category of concern is reserved for people who are looking for an excuse to use their car.

  28. Two-Wheeled Librarian says:

    I’m paid for my skills and knowledge, not for my smell.

    Right on! Though as a librarian in an urban public library, many of the people I deal with on a day to day basis carry quite a bit of funk with them 😉 Everything’s relative, I suppose.

    Baby powder and an extra stick of deodorant in the bag – a light and helpful kit.

    Ride to work in a tshirt (cotton; public servants got no $$$ for fancy sports materials) and the black military pants I wear every day (yeah, I’m like Batman and have 5 identical pair… think what you want). Change into fresh button-up shirt and undershirt at work (carried in backpack, poly blend to control wrinkles).

    Has worked just fine for a decade.

  29. zoe says:

    Another good body wipe product is Paper Shower. It has a huge really wet body wipe that does a great job at getting your fresh and is teamed with a dry towelette to really complete the job

  30. Jen says:

    Just that most of you are men. Would be great hear from ladies because I think we’re held to a higher standard. I’m gonna sweat, f up my hair big time, then “sink bathe”, clean and dry my face to put on make up. Then I hope I brought my whole outfit. If a dress or skirt maybe I needed pantyhose. How am I going to keep all different outfits at work as a woman? Do I forego fashion and just only wear basic trouser pants and find more basic tops. I don’t fit into button downs the way men do so I need other styles. I want to ride to work, but still be a woman. How??!! 😣

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