Keeping your gear clean really only accomplishes one thing: keeping you healthy. The skin in certain locations is subject to too much mechanical abuse, setting yourself up for a painful saddle sore (I've been lucky to escape these so far).
Here are some tips for care of your garments and other items:
- Gentle cycle, multiple rinse, no bleach, I use warm water but that's just me
- I use whatever regular laundry detergent happens to be handy
- Never, ever machine dry. Always air-dry
- I found some hangers that have little slots in the shoulder for dress straps (they actually belong to the missus) which are great for my bibs
- Make sure to put all the velcro hook and loop patches together, otherwise you'll wind up with six jerseys stuck to one pair of gloves somehow...
- I wash everything: gloves, jersey, bibs, jackets, skull cap, croakie, socks, shoe covers, etc.
Additionally, spray the insides of your shoes with an OTC anti-fungal treatement immmediately after every ride. This will accomplish two things: you will be less likely to get athlete's foot, and your shoes won't develop a musty aroma.
This is especailly important if you ride in the rain, as we're wont to do here in the PNW. for that reason, I also have replaceable insoles in all my bike shoes. If they do develop a funk, I can toss the insole and hopefully cut down on the growth.
How often should your gear be washed? You get back from a ride, toss everything in the dirty clothes hamper. BUT, if you just got back from a ride in the rain, set everything out to air-dry and then toss it in the dirty clothes hamper.