The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Leather Work Gloves

03 Nov, 2023

By hqt

how to clean leather work gloves

Keeping your leather work gloves clean not only extends their lifespan but also ensures they continue to provide the best possible protection for your hands. However, cleaning leather gloves is not as simple as tossing them into the washing machine with your jeans. Leather is a natural material that requires special care to prevent damage. Here’s a comprehensive 1500-word guide on how to clean your leather work gloves properly.

how to clean leather work gloves

Understanding Leather Work Gloves

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s crucial to understand the type of leather your gloves are made from. Leather can be full-grain, top-grain, genuine, or bonded, with each type having different characteristics and care requirements.

When to Clean Your Leather Gloves

You should clean your leather gloves when you notice dirt buildup, staining, or an unpleasant odor. Regular maintenance can prevent the leather from deteriorating and keep the gloves comfortable and functional.

Pre-Cleaning Steps

  1. Brush off Dirt and Debris: Use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the gloves.
  2. Identify the Type of Leather: Check the manufacturer’s tag to determine the type of leather and any specific care instructions.

Cleaning Lightly Soiled Leather Gloves

For gloves that aren't heavily soiled and just need a light cleaning:

  1. Use a Damp Cloth: Wipe the gloves with a cloth lightly dampened with water.
  2. Spot Clean: Apply a small amount of mild soap to areas with light stains, and gently work it in with a soft cloth.
  3. Wipe Off Soap: Use a clean, damp cloth to remove any soap residue.
  4. Air Dry: Let the gloves dry naturally, away from direct heat and sunlight.

Cleaning Heavily Soiled Leather Gloves

For tougher jobs where the gloves are caked with dirt or exposed to stubborn stains:

  1. Prepare a Cleaning Solution: Mix a small amount of saddle soap with water to create a sudsy solution.
  2. Test the Soap: Apply a small amount of the saddle soap solution to an inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration.
  3. Wash the Gloves: Using a soft cloth or sponge, work the saddle soap solution into the gloves, paying extra attention to heavily soiled areas.
  4. Remove Excess Moisture: Wipe the gloves with a clean, dry cloth to remove any excess moisture and suds.
  5. Condition the Leather: Once the gloves are dry, apply a leather conditioner to keep them supple and prevent cracking.

Treating Stains on Leather Gloves

If your gloves have oil, ink, or other types of stains:

  1. Oil Stains: Sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder on the stain and let it sit overnight to absorb the oil. Brush off the powder the next day.
  2. Ink Stains: Gently dab the stain with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. Do not rub, as this can spread the ink.
  3. Other Stains: Make a paste with equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for a few hours before wiping it off with a damp cloth.

Drying Leather Gloves

Proper drying is as crucial as the cleaning process:

  1. Air Dry Only: Never use a heat source like a radiator, hair dryer, or direct sunlight to speed up the drying process, as this can warp and crack the leather.
  2. Reshape the Gloves: While the gloves are damp, put them on and make a fist several times to help them retain their shape.
  3. Stuff with Paper: To help the gloves keep their shape and to absorb moisture, stuff them with newspaper or a towel.

Conditioning Leather Gloves

After cleaning and drying your gloves, conditioning them is vital:

  1. Choose a Leather Conditioner: Find a conditioner that is suitable for your type of leather.
  2. Apply the Conditioner: Using a soft cloth, apply the conditioner in a circular motion, paying particular attention to seams and crevices.
  3. Buff the Leather: After the conditioner has been absorbed, buff the gloves with a clean cloth to bring out the shine.

Tips for Maintaining Leather Gloves

  1. Store Properly: Keep your leather gloves in a cool, dry place when not in use.
  2. Avoid Getting Them Wet: Leather doesn’t fare well when soaked. If they do get wet, let them dry naturally.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Clean and condition your gloves regularly to keep the leather at its best.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Don’t Immerse in Water: Submerging leather gloves in water can cause them to become hard and brittle.
  2. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Solvents and abrasive cleaners can damage the leather.
  3. Don’t Wring Out Leather Gloves: Twisting them to get rid of water can distort their shape.

Professional Cleaning

For extremely valuable or delicate leather gloves, consider professional cleaning. A leather specialist will have the knowledge and tools to handle the job without causing damage.


Cleaning your leather work gloves may seem like a chore, but it's essential for their longevity and performance. Regular cleaning, proper drying, and conditioning can make all the difference in maintaining the durability and comfort of your gloves. Remember to follow the cleaning steps that correspond with how soiled your gloves are, and always refer to the manufacturer's care instructions. Take care of your gloves, and they’ll take care of your hands in return.