Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'm Blue (Da-boo-dee-round the bum) AKA How to Clean a White Bicycle Seat

The Schwinn Jenny 7 speed is a cute looking bicycle. A large portion of this cuteness may be attributed to the crisp, white contrasting details of the saddle and grips. Unfortunately, white saddles on 'every day clothes' bicycles come with a major flaw: Everyday clothes are not as colourfast as athletics specific ones. Particularly if you ride in jeans. The Schwinn saddle was holding up well against my rear denim attack…until I bought a new pair of jeans. After one ride, the formerly still white-ish saddle of the Jenny transformed into a mouldy looking Smurf bukkake. E.g.

Think about it.
So how do you keep your white bike seat clean?! I tried cleaning it with a soapy damp cloth. I tried dish washing detergent. I tried gentle, non-destructive, non submerging methods of cleaning. No dice. Remembering my distant, childhood time in the 1980s when all sneakers (trainers/kicks/tennis shoes/what ever you kids are calling them) were made of vinyl, I recalled the existence of 'Sneaker Whitener' and wondered if it might help my poor saddle. I bought a sponge-tipped applicator of horrific smelling chemicals and went for it. (I'm not a 'patch test' kind of gal.) It stunk out a room of my house, made me cough and worst of all - did nothing to erase the mental image of Papa Smurf getting his freak on. I figured I was stuck with the mottled look and hoped that if I rubbed my denim clad butt on it enough, it might at least even out.

After moving to Tasmania - and long after I had stopped caring about the whiteness of my saddle, I was propping up the Jenny outside my local fish and chip shop when a passing stranger did a massive double-take at the state of my saddle. By this stage the blue had spread to the back of the seat around the 'S' (Fat bottom, hello.) and it really gave the visual impression of 'moistness' despite being dry. I could see them glance at my groin, attributing all sorts of yeasty horrors to my undercarriage. I wondered if perhaps it was time to revisit saddle whitening.

Since my first attempts I had fallen in love with a cleaning product called 'Magic Eraser'. Ostensibly marketed for removal of juvenile creative self expression from the walls of your lounge room, Magic Eraser is a thing of beauty and grace which I found had many unofficial applications relevant to my quest to see our bond returned when moving from Perth. (Which it was in full, the Landlady even asking if we had hired professionals, such was the sparkling condition of the house.) Magic Eraser. Learn it. Love it. This is not a sponsored message. Anyway, I decided to put its magic to the test and give the saddle another pass. As close to a patch test as I'll ever get, I started on the back around the 'S'. Immediate success. So I moved to the top. There was smearing and some drips from the eraser as the indigo dye lifted away, I ended up using a dry cloth to immediately wipe areas as they became clean.

I did this in the middle of the night, hence the awful phone pictures.

I used two small blocks of Magic Eraser, from an 8 pack.

Both blocks ended up disintegrated blue blobs from the friction.
(Aaaand we're back to the Smurfs again.)
Once I had finished two little blocks of eraser, I wiped the seat over with a plain cloth dampened with tap water (I didn't want eraser residue to linger) and left it to dry. But not before taking these last two pictures. I was impressed with the results. Though the saddle is not back to a factory whiteness, it now simply looks vaguely used rather than festering. I may try another pass in the future to see just how white I can get it. And I now no longer fear my bottom wreaking havoc on the snowy seat of the Jenny.

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