Can You Wash Leather Gloves? – Glove Care 101

So, you’ve got a pair of leather gloves and you’re wondering, can you wash them?

Leather gloves can be washed, but it’s not as straightforward as tossing them into a washing machine.

Leather is a delicate material that requires special attention to maintain its quality and durability. So, while it’s possible to wash them, doing it the right way is crucial.

Washing them carelessly can lead to shrinking, stiffening, or even ruining the gloves entirely.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the different methods and potential mistakes and ultimately will tell you the secret to keeping your leather gloves looking fabulous without risking damage.

Can You Wash Leather Gloves Infographic

Assess the Condition

It’s important to prepare properly before you start cleaning those leather gloves.  Here’s what you’ll need and what to do:

Check for Visible Damage: Take a close look at your gloves and check for any visible signs of damage or wear and tear. This could include scratches, scuffs, tears, or loose stitching.

Identify the Leather Type: Different types of leather require different care methods, so it’s crucial to know what kind of leather your gloves are made of.

  • Full-Grain Leather: This is the highest quality and most durable leather. It requires gentle cleaning with mild soap or leather cleaner and conditioning afterward.
  • Top-Grain Leather: Slightly lower quality than full-grain but still very durable and often smoother. Similar to full-grain; use a gentle cleaner and conditioner.
  • Goatskin: Use a damp cloth with mild soap, but ensure you don’t overwet the leather. Quick, gentle wipes are best.
  • Sheepskin/Lambskin: Extremely gentle cleaning is required. Use a very diluted soap solution and a soft cloth. Avoid excess moisture.
  • Deerskin: Similar to goatskin, it needs a mild soap solution and gentle wiping. Do not soak and always air dry naturally.

Remove Surface Dirt: Use a dry, soft cloth to wipe surface dirt or dust. This helps to ensure that you’re not rubbing grit into the leather during cleaning, which can cause scratches.

Find a Clean Workspace: Set up a clean, dry workspace where you can comfortably clean your gloves. A table covered with a towel or an old newspaper works well.

Before You Dive In: Essential Precautions

Just like you’d check the weather before heading out for a picnic, it’s essential to prep properly before washing gloves to avoid mishaps. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Test Your Cleaning Solution:

Before you go all-in with your cleaning solution, it’s smart to do a quick test on a small, inconspicuous area of the glove. This way, you can make sure the cleaner won’t cause unexpected reactions. Better safe than sorry!

Patience Is Key, Don’t Rush:

Take your time and don’t rush the process. I was the queen of impatience, always trying to speed up the drying process with a hairdryer. Spoiler alert: it never ended well. Now, I embrace the slow and steady approach – much better results!

Don’t Skip Drying:

After cleaning your gloves, it’s crucial to let them dry properly before using them again. Avoid the temptation to speed up the drying process with a hairdryer or direct heat, this can cause the leather to crack or warp.

Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Leather Gloves

Washing leather gloves can be daunting, but with the right approach, you can keep them looking great and extend their life.

Let’s go through the steps together, both for hand washing and machine washing

Materials Required:

  • Mild soap (baby shampoo or gentle dish soap)
  • Lukewarm water
  • Soft cloths
  • Towels
  • Leather conditioner

1. Hand Washing Method

Mix a few drops of mild soap with lukewarm water in a basin or sink. Dampen a soft cloth with the soapy water and gently wipe the gloves, starting at the fingers and working down. Rinse the gloves thoroughly with lukewarm water to remove any soap residue.

Pat the gloves with a dry towel to remove excess moisture. Reshape them and let them air dry in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight and heat sources. I once left mine on a sunny windowsill, and they shrunk and stiffened.

Once completely dry, apply a small amount of leather conditioner to a soft cloth and rub it into the leather in a circular motion. Let it absorb to keep the leather soft. The whole process takes about 15-20 minutes.

2. Machine Washing Method (for Certain Gloves)

Before attempting to machine wash your gloves, always check the care label to ensure they are machine washable. Not all leather gloves can withstand machine washing, so it’s essential to confirm before proceeding.

Place your gloves in a mesh laundry bag to protect them during the wash cycle. Use a gentle cycle with cold water and a small amount of mild detergent. This ensures that the leather remains intact and doesn’t get damaged.

After washing, remove the gloves from the mesh bag and lay them flat on a clean towel to air dry naturally. Avoid using the dryer, as the heat can damage the leather.

Once the gloves are completely dry, apply leather conditioner to keep the leather flexible and soft.

The entire process takes about 30-45 minutes.

I’ve found that hand washing is usually the safest option for leather gloves, especially if they’re delicate or have intricate details.

Source: Guyanneh YT Channel

What to Avoid When Washing Leather Gloves

Washing leather gloves requires careful attention to detail to ensure they stay in great shape. Here are some key things to avoid during the cleaning process to prevent damage:

  • Harsh Cleaners:

When washing your leather gloves, harsh cleaners are a big no-no. I once made the mistake of using a powerful household cleaner on my gloves, thinking it would tackle tough stains better. It ended up leaving them dull and lifeless.

  • Hot Water:

While warm water is typically used for cleaning, hot water should be avoided when washing leather gloves. Excessive heat can cause the leather to shrink, become misshapen, or even crack. I always double-check the water temperature before diving in.
  • Rough Handling:

Leather may be tough, but it’s also surprisingly sensitive. Avoid rough handling or aggressive scrubbing when cleaning your gloves, as this can damage the delicate leather fibers and leave you with sad, worn-out gloves.
  • Skipping Conditioning:

After cleaning your gloves, don’t forget to show them some love with a good leather conditioner. I neglected to condition my gloves once, and they ended up feeling dry and stiff. 


How Frequently Should You Wash Leather Gloves?

When it comes to leather gloves, less is often more. Washing them too frequently can strip away the natural oils:

If you wear your leather gloves daily, especially in situations where they’re exposed to dirt, sweat, or other elements, you’ll likely need to wash them more frequently.

I wear my favorite pair of leather gloves almost every day during the cooler months, so I wash them every couple of weeks to keep them fresh and clean.

Pay attention to the condition of your gloves – if they start to look visibly dirty or stained, it’s probably time for a wash.

Additionally, if you notice any odors or buildup of sweat or oils, that’s another indicator that they could benefit from a cleaning.

During winter, when gloves are in heavy rotation to keep your hands warm, they may require more frequent cleaning due to exposure to snow, salt, and moisture.

In contrast, during summer when gloves are less frequently worn, they may not need to be washed as often.

Ultimately, how often you wash your leather gloves is a personal preference. Some people prefer to wash them after every few wears to keep them looking new, while others may opt for a more relaxed approach.

Listen to your instincts and wash your gloves as needed based on their condition and your comfort level.

Source: Vermont Glove YT Channel


And there you have it – the ultimate guide to washing your leather gloves!

We’ve covered everything from assessing their condition to choosing the right cleaning method and avoiding common mistakes along the way. So, what’s the big takeaway?

Taking care of your gloves doesn’t have to be a daunting task – with a little know-how, you can keep them looking sharp and feeling comfortable for years.

Remember to approach each cleaning session with patience and care, treating your gloves like the cherished companions they are. 

Now get out there and conquer the world, one perfectly-maintained glove at a time!

Resources Consulted

James Chiles

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