How to Clean Leather Boxing Gloves

Owning a pair of leather boxing gloves comes with many benefits. You protect your hands from injury and hurt during training and sparring sessions. You protect your opponent (and by extension, your opponent’s gloves protect you) in a competitive bout.

With your boxing gloves playing such an important role in wellbeing and safety, I firmly believe that you should invest a little time and effort in understanding how you can effectively care for your trusted equipment. Thankfully, this is relatively simple and accessible, and this article can be broken down into the following steps. 

  1. Clean Exteriors of your Boxing Gloves
  2. Clean Interiors of your Boxing Gloves
  3. Condition your Boxing Gloves
  4. Safely Store your Boxing Gloves

Effective care can elongate your gloves’ lifespan by months, if not years. If nothing else, your leather boxing gloves might hold special memories for you, and if you ever want to keep them for display after use, you would still want them to look as presentable as possible.

We also have a holistic guide to the basics of cleaning leather gloves and how you can clean specific glove types.

1. Clean your Boxing Glove Exteriors

This step is especially important if you were involved in a sparring session or a competitive bout. Chances are (and hopefully if you were in a scoring match) your gloves would have made contact with your counterpart’s body and your glove exteriors would have been exposed to sweat and possibly blood.

Cleaning Your Leather Boxing Gloves After Sparring or Bouting 

If you are finding yourself in this situation, I highly recommend you to create a gentle cleaning solution of mild soap and room temperature water. Dip a clean cloth into your soap solution, wringe your cloth so that you are not overexposing your leather boxing gloves to moisture and wipe down the entire external surface area of your glove, paying special attention to any areas that might have heavier stains.

I would not recommend using only water for this step as your leather boxing gloves likely have bodily fluids coated on them. Not only will a gentle soap solution be more effective in killing the bacteria, it also helps remove impurities that can counteract the natural PH level of your boxing gloves, leading to unwanted cracking and stiffening over time.

If your boxing gloves are very heavily stained, you can consider using a disinfecting wipe instead of a mild soap solution. I do not recommend for you to use anything alcohol based as a go-to option as that can be damaging for leather in the long term, however on the balance of things, bacteria from blood and sweat can be more harmful in the long run and in sparing application, a mild alcohol solution can be the lesser of the evils.

After you have rubbed down the exterior of your gloves, use a second, fully dry cloth, to remove any moisture that remains on your boxing gloves. Before we get to storing your gloves, we want to ensure that your gloves are not unnecessarily moist or wet.

Cleaning Your Leather Boxing Gloves After Non-Contact Training

Whilst you can still follow the steps as above, chances are general leather wipes are sufficient for your purposes here. If you have been air boxing or simply training with a punching bag, your gloves’ exposure to harmful agents would be greatly mitigated.

Whilst you can still follow the steps as above, chances are general leather wipes are sufficient for your purposes here. If you have been air boxing or simply training with a punching bag, your gloves’ exposure to harmful agents would be greatly mitigated.

Run your leather wipes across the surface areas of your gloves. If leather wipes are not readily available to you,  I would recommend simply using a cloth dipped in room temperature water to wipe down your gloves. Once you have gone through this step, use a second, dry cloth, to fully dry the outside of your leather boxing gloves.

In either circumstance, make sure that you cover all areas of your boxing gloves in the cleaning process. Commonly missed areas include the inside of  thumb attachment area and the wrist cuff 

2. Clean Your Boxing Glove Interiors

From my experience, this is usually the step that is most commonly overlooked, or mismanaged. You are not able to turn a boxing glove inside out and simply replicate your cleaning process from the step above. Your glove interiors are also the likeliest to be exposed to your sweat, regardless if you were involved in contact or non contact activity.

Our cleaning process here should be targeted at achieving two things. a) Killing the bacteria from your sweat and b) Getting your glove interiors as dry as possible.

Effective interior cleaning of your gloves will go a long way in minimising ‘bubbling’ of your boxing gloves. ‘Bubbling’ is what happens when harmful impurities get into the padding of your gloves (remember, leather is permeable after all) and break down the structure of your protective padding.

Disinfect Interior of Leather Boxing Gloves

You can use a disinfectant spray for this step. Place the nozzle into the glove opening to ensure that none of your spray pumps end up on the exterior of your gloves. 

If you do not have a disinfectant spray available, feel free to make your own solution by having a white vinegar and water (50-50 mix) cleaning solution. Apply this solution to the interiors of your glove through a spray bottle.

Remove Excess Moisture From Interior of Leather Boxing Gloves

Whilst storing your gloves in ideal scenarios will help in this regard, we should look to expedite the process of drying the interiors of your gloves. As natural airflow is restricted into your gloves’ interiors, I recommend inserting a dryer sheet into your gloves.

If you do not have access to dryer sheets, scrunched newspapers can be an (albeit, a rather inferior) alternative to help with removal of excess moisture from your glove interiors.

Do not introduce any unnatural heat sources to hasten the drying process of your gloves’ interiors. If you would like to promote airflow into your damp glove interiors, you can consider using a hairdryer if and only if your hairdryer has a fully cool air setting. You can also leave your gloves by an open window but take care to not have your gloves under elongated direct sunlight exposure.

3. Condition Your Boxing Gloves

Now that we have addressed both the exterior and interiors of your gloves, we want to condition them so that we are able to maintain the sheen and softness of your leather boxing gloves.

Apply a thin layer of leather conditioner on your boxing gloves with a microfibre cloth. Use your microfiber cloth to evenly spread the application of conditioner across the external surface area of your boxing gloves. Leave your boxing gloves to sit for 3-5 minutes, and then use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe off any excess conditioner that might still reside.

You now have a pair of clean leather boxing gloves that you can prepare for safe storage.

4. Store Your Boxing Gloves

We want to ensure that you are storing your boxing gloves in a cool, dry environment. We also want to ensure that we are maximising airflow into the interiors of your gloves to prevent any potential mildew forming, which can damage your hands.

To minimise the formation of mildew and unwanted smells in your leather boxing gloves, I recommend considering leveraging on deodorising agents whilst your gloves are being stored. These agents can be charcoal or cedar wood based.

I would also recommend that you undo your glove laces or velcro straps to promote air circulation into your glove interiors.

Best Practices Around Boxing Glove Care

Here’s a list detailing some of the best practises when it comes to cleaning leather boxing gloves.

  • Do not keep gloves in gym bag after use – This is probably the biggest mistake that you can make. Every step outlined in this article is geared towards a) disinfecting your gloves to kill off bacteria formation and b) minimising exposure to wet and damp conditions. Keeping your soiled boxing gloves in your gym bag for any prolonged time goes against everything we are trying to achieve.
  • Use hand wraps – Hand wraps are a fantastic accessory that minimises the exposure of your glove interiors to your sweat. 
  • Not soaking your gloves in water – whilst you might be tempted to after a particularly grueling session, following the steps as outlined in this article will go a long way in ensuring that you are not further damaging your gloves through the cleaning process.

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