Ideally, you would like to pick up a pair of well fitting leather gloves that you will not need to stretch significantly to comfortably wear. You would want your new leather gloves to have a snug and tight fit (think of a second skin layer on top of your hands). However, they should not be tight to the point of cutting off blood circulation or restricting normal ranges of motion.
If you are looking to simply break them in rather than to stretch them, please refer to our guide on how to soften your leather gloves. If your gloves are well fitted to begin with, a normal stretching process through regular wear and use will mostly suffice.
Unfortunately, there will be times where stretching your leather gloves to even get them on is a necessity. A common scenario that leads to shrinkage is water exposure in storage and heat. Gardening gloves that are moist and left in the sun might need additional stretching measures for you to use them again.
You can stretch out your leather gloves by following the 3 simple steps as outlined below.
- Apply moisture to your gloves to get them ready for stretching
- Stretch your gloves with your hands or glove stretcher through the drying process
- Condition your leather gloves
1. Apply Moisture on Leather Gloves to get them Ready for Stretching
For this step, it is recommended to look for off the shelf agents that are specialised in leather stretching. One of the best products you can consider would be a leather shoe stretcher spray. The composition of the spray will help to soften the leather fabric that will allow for easier stretching in the subsequent steps.
If your gloves’ interiors do not have a lining, turn your gloves inside out and hold the spray 10-15 cm away from the gloves. Spray the surface area of the inside-out gloves and use a microfiber cloth to ensure even distribution of the spray. If your gloves have an inner lining, skip this step.
Next, turn the gloves the right side out and apply the leather stretching solution as described for the interiors.
While you are not necessarily aiming for your gloves to be soaked by the leather stretching spray, you are looking for a heavier application layer than a simple light coating.
If you do not have leather stretching sprays and are not planning on buying some, you can consider using lukewarm water to soak the gloves. If you use water however, you might end up further shrinking the gloves if you do not carry out the subsequent steps correctly.
For water application, get a bowl of lukewarm water ( ~35 degrees celsius). Please ensure that you are able to comfortably make contact with the water with your skin without scalding yourself.
Submerge your leather gloves in the bowl of water for a period of 3-5 minutes. Remove your gloves from the bowl of water and gently squeeze them to remove excess water, taking care to not wring them.
2. Stretch your Leather Gloves
The easiest and most reliable way you can stretch and conform your leather gloves to fit your hand is by actually wearing them. You can also use a glove stretching tool. If you are still unable to wear your gloves, consider applying more stretching solution or re-soaking your gloves in lukewarm water for another cycle.
If you had soaked your gloves in water, the important thing to note is that your gloves should be stretching through the drying process. Therefore, a glove stretching tool will likely not be sufficient alone. Most glove stretching tools focus and specialise in stretching the glove fingers.
If you leave your gloves to dry sitting alone, your leather gloves might not maintain the stretched form or worse (if stored incorrectly while drying), further shrink. The most important thing to watch out for here is to not leave your leather gloves sitting in exposure of direct sunlight or unnatural heat.
It is recommended for you to keep your gloves on for the entirety of the time that it is drying. If this is uncomfortable due to excess of moisture either from water or your leather stretching solution, it is recommended to first wear a pair of latex / plastic gloves to insulate your hands.
If the option is available to you, you can consider wearing your gloves as you ride a bike to accelerate the drying process with wind.
If wearing the gloves through the drying process is not feasible, consider stuffing the interiors of your glove with a material such as newspaper to maintain an expanded form. This can be a good option to take if the main part of your glove you are trying to stretch is the wrist opening.
Once your gloves are completely dry, you can remove them and proceed to the next step.
3. Condition your Leather Gloves
Apply leather conditioner on your glove and use a microfibre cloth to evenly spread your application. Use gentle, circular motions and coat the entire surface area of your glove.
This step is especially important if you had soaked your gloves in water previously. We want to ensure that your gloves retain as much natural oils and moisture to prevent your leather gloves from turning brittle or hard. Leather conditioner will mitigate the effects of excess water exposure and maintain the comfort and shelf life of your gloves for the long run.
If you had used leather stretching products earlier in the process, please ensure that your gloves are first wiped with a dry microfiber cloth to remove any excess solution before conditioning your gloves.
Post conditioning, store your leather gloves in a cool dry environment and if you are going through a long period without using your gloves, it is recommended to still put on your gloves every 3-5 days to maintain your gloves’ shape and size.
Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief & Writer At Leatherskill
I’m a leather enthusiast turned artisan. Apart from crafting leather products, I’m passionate about writing in-depth guides and reviews on all things leather!