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[EXPLAINED] How To Clean And Maintain Boxing Gloves

Reading Time: 11 minutes

So you’ve got a nice pair of boxing gloves, but they’re starting to smell a little funky?

Taking care of your boxing gloves by cleaning and sanitizing the inside, while ensuring the outside is well conditioned will help to prolong their life. It’s important to use separate cleaning techniques for the outside and inside because they’re made from different materials that require specific cleaning products.

In this guide, I explain how to take care of your beloved boxing gloves by:

  1. Maintaining boxing gloves to ensure they last as long as possible
  2. Correctly cleaning the outside to avoid cracking
  3. Cleaning and sanitizing the inside to avoid smelly boxing gloves
  4. Properly drying boxing gloves after training and washing

I also answer a few questions you might have about using washing machines and tumble dryers.

So let’s get into it.

ALSO READ: [BUYERS GUIDE] Boxing Gloves | Find Your Perfect Boxing Gloves

Why Do Your Boxing Gloves Stink?

Your boxing gloves will end up stinking at some point.

If you don’t clean them regularly, this will happen pretty quickly.

Your boxing gloves stink because of the bacteria that are transferred from your hands, which soak into your gloves through your sweat. If you aren’t regularly removing odor-causing bacteria and germs, they’ll breed and duplicate which compounds the smell and makes it difficult to clean later on.

A great way to quickly dry boxing gloves while reducing odor is to use a deodorizer or the more portable deodorizing pods.

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Regular gloves maintenance is important if you want your gloves to last you a long time.

ALSO READ: [BUYERS GUIDE] Punching Bags | All You Need To Know

How To Clean And Maintain Boxing Gloves

[5 Steps] How To Protect And Maintain Your Boxing Gloves

As the old saying goes, prevention is always better than a cure.

Ensuring your gloves last as long as possible starts with what you do directly after training each time.

Follow these steps and your boxing gloves will love you:

#1 Wash Your Hands Before Training

Washing your hands before putting on your boxing gloves will help to reduce any bad smells for longer.

One of the main reasons your gloves end up stinking is because of the new bacteria introduced by your dirty hands.

This bacteria thrives in sweat, which means your gloves become the perfect breeding ground.

#2 Use Hand Wraps Under Your Gloves

Not only do hand wraps help to protect your hands while training, but they also help to absorb and wick away your sweat.

I highly recommend wearing hand wraps under your boxing gloves, they’re a must if you’re a boxer.

The added absorption layer will protect them from sweat more than anything else, helping them last longer.

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READ MORE: [EXPLAINED] How To Clean And Maintain Hand Wraps

#3 Undo Your Gloves Before Removing

When you’re done training, it’s always best to completely loosen your gloves by unlacing them or undoing the velcro cuff before gently pulling your hand out.

You’ll often see people forcefully pulling their gloves off using their teeth, or getting one of their training partners to pull it off for them.

This is normally because they’re too lazy to loosen their gloves before taking them off.

This is a bad idea because you’re damaging the internal fabric of your boxing gloves, and can even tear them.

#4 Wipe Your Gloves Down

When you’re done training, it’s a good idea to wipe the outside of your gloves down with a warm, damp cloth before drying the surface with your gym towel.

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Especially if you’re sparring.

Removing any blood, sweat, boogers (and tears) is important.

Some boxing gloves with leather outers require additional conditioning from time to time.

#5 Let Your Gloves Dry

Never leave your sweaty boxing gloves in your equipment bag if they’re still wet; take them out as soon as possible.

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Allowing your boxing gloves to dry properly between training sessions is crucial for reducing bad odors.

Simply air-drying your gloves should be enough if you’re only training 2-3 times per week.

If you’re training more often, you might want to speed up the drying process a little.

Do not leave your gloves in direct sunlight, as this would damage the outer layer and cause it to crack.

Are Boxing Gloves Washable?

If you’re like many others, you’re probably wondering if boxing gloves are even washable?

It’s a fair question since most boxing gloves are made of at least 2 different materials, making them pretty tricky to clean if you don’t know how.

Boxing gloves are washable if you use the correct methods both inside and outside. Washing the inside involves killing the bacteria that live in sweat, causing your gloves to stink. The outside requires disinfecting, but it’s also important to treat the material, especially leather outers.

Treating your leather outers should be done with caution.

If it’s not done correctly, you risk damaging your boxing gloves in the long run.

Can You Put Boxing Gloves In The Washing Machine?

Cleaning your boxing gloves by hand can become pretty tedious.

You might be tempted to simply throw them into your washing machine along with your dirty socks.

You should never put your boxing gloves in the washing machine, no matter how badly they smell or how dirty they may be. Your washing machine will soak the leather and internal foam padding that could cause them to rot or deform before sufficiently drying. It’s best to wash your boxing gloves by hand.

Never take shortcuts when it comes to caring for your gloves.

Can You Put Boxing Gloves In The Dryer?

Like a washing machine, a tumble dryer may seem tempting for quickly and conveniently drying your boxing gloves.

Though it’s recommended to always keep your gloves dry when you’re not training, using a tumble dryer for doing this is not a good idea. Boxing gloves with leather or synthetic outers will be severely damaged under high temperatures, it’s best to allow your gloves to dry gradually at normal room temperature.

Further down we look at the best ways to dry your gloves, both slowly and if you’re in a hurry.

How Often Should You Clean Boxing Gloves?

Simply allowing your boxing gloves to dry between training sessions should be enough to keep them fresher for longer.

However, cleaning your gloves from time to time is important for their overall longevity.

How often you clean your gloves depends on how often you train.

Use the table below to plan your boxing glove cleaning routine:

Sessions Per WeekWhen To Clean
1 – 3
(not smelly)
Once every two weeks
4 – 7
(not smelly)
Once a week
1 – 3
Once a week
4 – 7
Twice a week

If your gloves are smelly, you’ll need to wash them more often to keep them usable.

There will come a time when you’ll need to decide if buying new boxing gloves will be less hassle than maintaining smelly gloves.

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What Is The Best Way To Clean Boxing Gloves?

The absolute best way to clean your boxing gloves is by hand.

Be careful not to use too much water and allow your gloves to dry properly before using them again.

Follow this guide for the best way to clean your boxing gloves, and you’ll keep them going for a long time.

How To Clean The Inside of Your Boxing Gloves

As previously mentioned, get your sweaty boxing gloves out of your bag as soon as you can to avoid bad smells from sticking to the fabric.

Avoid using washing powders and fabric softeners on your gloves, because it would be difficult to rinse them well.

Leaving your gloves feeling stiff and uncomfortable.

Often making them smell even worse because of the leftover soap.

So here’s how to do it right.

Step 1: Soak up the excess sweat

The main culprit of bad-smelling boxing gloves is bacteria that hitch a ride with your sweat.

If you’re cleaning your boxing gloves directly after training, use a paper towel or dry cloth to soak up the excess moisture.

Wrap it around your hand, push your hand into your glove and move it around, reaching every crease and corner.

Ensure that you soak up as much of the bacteria-carrying sweat as you can.

Step 2: Clean the inside fabric to stop your gloves from smelling

For simple cleaning, a simple saline solution works perfectly.

Saline solution is a mixture of water and salt which helps to kill odor-causing bacteria.

GET THE RECIPE: How To Make Saline Solution At Home

Simply wet the inside of your boxing gloves generously with the solution and leave to soak for about 30 – 60 minutes.

When you’re ready, rinse your gloves thoroughly to ensure all the salt is removed before allowing them to dry.

Step 2: Disinfect boxing gloves to get the bad smell out

Saltwater is great for killing bacteria, but sometimes you need to do a little more.

To prevent your gloves from smelling funky, you should disinfect your boxing gloves each time you clean them.

Moderately spread a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) and water on the inside of your boxing gloves using your hand or a spray bottle. If your gloves are particularly smelly, you might want to add 8-10 drops of tea tree oil to the mixture.

Once you’re happy that all areas are covered, don’t rinse them.

Rather, allow your gloves to dry naturally with the solution in them.

You may need to repeat this process a few times for particularly bad-smelling gloves.

How To Clean The Outside of Your Boxing Gloves

Cleaning the outside of your boxing gloves is a good idea, especially if you use them for sparring.

Virus-carrying germs can be passed from one sparring partner to another.

It’s your responsibility to ensure that your gloves aren’t the reason your training partners get sick.

Step 1: Wipe your gloves down

As a rule, you should be wiping your boxing gloves down after each training session.

Since you’re going to be hitting dirty punching bags and sparring almost every time you train, this is very important.

Simply use a damp, warm cloth to thoroughly wipe the surface of your gloves.

Don’t use too much water.

Do this after every training session, not only once or twice a week.

Step 2: Disinfect the surface

A warm cloth may not get 100% of the bacteria and dangerous germs off your boxing gloves.

So I’d highly recommend doing a more thorough cleaning of the outside at the same time that you’re disinfecting the inside.

Simply use the same mixture of vinegar and water to wipe or spray onto the surface of your gloves.

Doing this each time you clean your gloves will help to keep the surface bacteria-free.

Step 3: Dry the surface properly

Unlike soaking and leaving the inside to dry, don’t leave the solution on the outside for too long.

Simply wipe the excess moisture off the surface of your boxing gloves to avoid permanently damaging the outer material – leather or synthetic.

These materials don’t like being stored away while they’re wet, because they’ll rot or even crack.

Avoid leaving your gloves in the sun to dry, as this would damage the outer material as well.

How Do You Dry Wet Boxing Gloves?

Since sweat is the main reason your boxing gloves start stinking, ensuring they’re dry before each training session is important.

Try not to rush the drying process.

Avoid leaving your gloves in the sun to dry out, because this will damage the surface and shorten their life.

4 Ways To Dry Your Wet Boxing Gloves

  1. Air-dry your gloves
  2. Increase air circulation with a fan
  3. Absorb moisture with newspaper
  4. Use moisture absorbing deodorizers

Here’s the right way to do dry your wet gloves:

Air-dry Your Gloves

After every training session, ensure that you undo your gloves to allow as much air circulation as possible.

Leave your boxing gloves in a well-ventilated area (avoid damp areas).

Preferably next to an open window (out of direct sunlight) with some naturally moving air to speed up the drying process.

Air-drying your gloves works great if you’re only training 2-3 days per week.

Increase Air Circulation

Training more often or living in a particularly humid area might make it difficult to dry your gloves out fast enough.

Especially if you have no windows to use.

I would recommend using a fan to create an artificial breeze.

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This will help to naturally accelerate the drying without damaging your gloves.

Open your gloves completely to allow as much airflow as possible, then place the fan so that it blows air directly into them.

This will help to dry your gloves quicker, even in humid or damp places.

Absorb Excess Moisture

If you sweat a lot and train too often to wait for your gloves to dry naturally, then you might need to absorb the excess moisture to help the process along.

Simply roll a few sheets of clean newspaper into balls and stuff them into your boxing gloves.

Ensure that you fill every corner to reach all the extra moisture.

Leave your gloves like this for a few hours, checking on them from time-to-time.

If you see that the newspaper is completely soaked, then replace it with fresh paper until it can’t absorb what’s left.

Then allow to air-dry.

Dry Fast With Deodorizers

Drying out wet gloves quickly is a common issue, especially with people who train multiple days a week.

As a result, companies are developing smarter ways of dealing with this.

Products like deodorizers and moisture-absorbing pods have made the lives of boxers a lot easier.

Allowing them to get back to training quicker while keeping their gloves fresher for longer.

GEARHALO Sports Deodorizer Pods - Stops The Stink!

These modular, rechargeable pods use SilverActiv protection to absorb and eliminate the stick caused by your sweat. They're a must for any gym bag.

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How Do You Keep Your Boxing Gloves From Cracking?

Most modern leather boxing gloves shouldn’t require treatment to avoid cracking.

However, many boxers recommend treating the leather once or twice a year to help maintain the leather over time.

When moisture dries on the surface of your gloves it can drain the natural oils that keep your leather supple, so drying your gloves properly after each session is very important.

Note: If you’re doing this for the first time, it may cause a darkening of the leather if the leather is very dry.

How To Treat Your Boxing Gloves To Avoid Cracking

Remember, when you’re cleaning and treating the surface of your boxing gloves with chemicals, it’s always best to use it cautiously.

Less is more.

Step 1: Wipe your boxing gloves clean and allow to dry

Use a clean cloth or rag with water to wipe off the worst of the dirt accumulated while training.

Wipe any excess moisture off the surface and allow them to dry completely in a well-ventilated area.

Step 2: Use a gentle leather cleaner

Before you treat the leather, you need to ensure they’re completely clean so that you aren’t trapping unwanted bacteria.

Use a soft leather cleaner like Lexol to strip away any extra sweat, blood, and debris.

Lexol Leather Cleaner

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Put a small amount on a clean cloth and quickly wipe the entire leather surface of your glove.

Don’t allow it to dry!

Wipe it off immediately with a clean, damp cloth.

Allow your gloves to dry completely.

Leather cleaners strip your leather of essential oils while cleaning, so it’s important to treat your leather.

Step 3: Treat the leather

Now that the leather has been properly cleaned, it’s time to condition it.

For this, use the Lexol Leather Conditioner which works great.

Lexol Leather Conditioner

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With one hand inside the glove to hold it, use a clean rag to wipe the leather conditioner onto the leather areas of your gloves that you’ve just cleaned.

Ensure that you cover all areas, especially the seams to keep them flexible and strong.

Only use a moderate amount; don’t overdo it.

By the way, Lexol sells a leather treatment kit that has everything you need in it and works out a little cheaper.

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Step 4: Let it soak

Once you’ve covered all areas with your leather conditioner, hang them up for 5 to 10 minutes.

The leather of your boxing gloves will absorb the conditioner into the pores, which keeps your gloves nice and supple.

This reduces the chances of your leather cracking due to moisture.

Step 5: Wipe your gloves off

When you’re ready, use a rag to wipe off the excess conditioner while pressing hard to further embed the conditioner that’s already absorbed.

Some boxers recommend using small circular movements to do this.

Make sure that you remove all the excess conditioner.

Then hang your gloves up overnight so the conditioner can do its thing

When Should I Change My Boxing Gloves?

Deciding when to change your gloves will depend on a few factors.

Stinky gloves as a result of excessive bacteria can cause fungal infections on your hands, and broken boxing gloves aren’t safe to use in training. If your gloves are tearing at the seams, if the leather’s cracking, or if you’re no longer able to get the smell out of them, then you may need to consider changing them.

READ MORE: [BUYERS GUIDE] Boxing Gloves | Find Your Perfect Boxing Gloves


Photo by Mikhail Nilov