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How to Wash Boxing Gloves

Boxing is a great way to stay fit, but due to the intensity of the sport, it takes nothing more than a few rounds in the ring or on a punch bag to really “dirty up” your gloves.

All that sweat, bacteria, dirt, and even blood can build up and leave your gloves smelling pretty undesirable. Not only this, but they can look faded and stained, too. 

However, if you’re new to boxing, you may be wondering how to wash your gloves. To be frank, if you want your gloves to last, you really shouldn’t chuck them in the machine, as this won’t actually thoroughly clean them, and they’ll wear down a lot quicker. 

You need to wash your gloves by hand, and if you’re not sure quite how to do this, keep reading, as we’ll take you through the process and ensure you know all of the Dos and Don’ts…

Cleaning your gloves

Leave them out to air

Most of us get into the habit of tossing our boxing gloves into our gym bag after a training session, however, because of the lack of airflow inside the bag, it’s a prime opportunity for bacteria to harbor. 

When you’re wearing your gloves, the bacteria from your hands is transferred into the gloves, and that bacteria feeds off of your sweat, which is what triggers those bad odors. That’s why it’s essential to air your gloves out as soon as possible after wearing them. 

Wipe them down

If you’re training at home, you can do this step straight away, else you should do it immediately after you remove your gloves from your bag.

Take a cloth or towel and wrap this around your hand, then stick your hand into the glove and move it around inside to soak up any excess sweat. Repeat this process on the other glove. 

Clean the insides

Once you’ve absorbed as much moisture as possible, you then need to clean the insides of the gloves.

To do this, we recommend a vinegar mixture (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar) to clean and sanitize. Use a half-and-half vinegar and water mixture and transfer this into a spray bottle, you can then spritz the inside of each glove several times.

 If you want to add antibacterial and antifungal action to the mix, you can do this by adding five to 10 drops of tea tree oil to the vinegar and water solution, which has a fresh, distinct smell that not only keeps bacteria at bay but will also kill any unpleasant odors. 

Clean the outside of the gloves

Once you’ve cleaned the inside of your gloves, spray your vinegar and water solution onto the outside of the gloves, too.

Apply enough to coat each glove with a light mist, and then wipe the gloves down with a clean towel or cloth to remove dirt, sweat, and any excess cleaning solution.

Condition the gloves

If your boxing gloves are made from leather, it’s a good idea to condition the gloves after you’ve sanitized them as cleaning the gloves can dry them out. For this, use a leather conditioner of your choice, or alternatively, a few drops of lemon essential oil should do the trick.

 Apply a small amount of the conditioner or oil to the outside of your gloves, and then slowly buff this into the surface using a lint-free cloth. You can then wipe down the gloves with a towel to absorb any excess product. 

Dry the gloves

Once you’ve cleaned and sanitized your gloves, you can then dry them out. The best way to do this is to hang them up to air dry, ensuring that the wrist strap is loosened as much as possible to let a maximum amount of air in.

To speed up the process, you can add some newspaper inside the gloves to absorb moisture, or alternatively use a blow dryer. Whatever you do, don’t leave them out to dry in the sun - this will simply damage the leather. 

Deodorize your gloves

If your gloves aren’t smelling as fresh as you’d like after the above steps, you should now deodorize them. There are multiple ways to do this, and it’s possible to get deodorizing sprays that are specially designed for sports and gym equipment, such as Vapor Fresh

However, there are also several ways to deodorize your gloves with things you may already have in the house. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and can be used to neutralize bad smells. Simply sprinkle a few pinches into each glove, and leave it for a few hours. When the time’s up, you can tap the gloves to get rid of the baking soda. 

Alternatively, you can place wood chips inside your gloves, and these will not only freshen them up but will also absorb excess moisture and bacteria. 

Essential oils are another great way to improve the smell of your gloves, and scents such as Lemongrass or Eucalyptus are particularly effective. 

Things to avoid

  • Washing your gloves in the washing machine. This will damage them and decrease their durability. You also want to avoid washing them in soapy water. 
  • Fabric “fresheners” or deodorizers like Fabreze. These will only temporarily mask bad odors, rather than eliminating them or neutralizing them. 
  • Leaving your gloves in your bag for long periods. Only carry your gloves in your bag to and from training - do not leave them sat inside the bag until your next session. Hang your gloves up and allow them to air out to prevent bad odors from developing. 
  • Leaving your gloves in the sun - this will damage the exterior of the gloves and dry out the leather.

How often to clean your boxing gloves

You should clean your boxing gloves as frequently as you need to, depending on how often you train. In between training sessions, always leave gloves out to air dry.

You can also reduce the need to clean your gloves by using an antibacterial spray or deodorizer on them after every use. Just ensure that any products you use won’t irritate your skin or damage the material of the gloves. 

Rayford Baxter
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