How To Clean Boxing Gloves (The Right Way)

If you compete, or even just dabble recreationally in the age-old sport of boxing, learning how to properly and thoroughly clean your boxing gloves may be way down on your list of priorities.

However, for the sake of your own performance, hygiene and the general competitive atmosphere in which you intend to use them, not to mention the safety of your opponents and sparring partners, learning this skill (correctly cleaning your gloves) is actually quite important to say the least. 

To illustrate this point, below we will briefly list some of the benefits of cleaning and preserving your boxing gloves, followed by a section in which we have provided a set of step-by-step instructions for performing these tasks appropriately and efficiently.

The Benefits of Cleaning Your Boxing Gloves

There are a number of great reasons to keep your boxing gloves clean, sanitized and properly maintained.  Some of the most glaring reasons to perform these chores are outlined below:

  • Augment performance. In the heat of battle, especially over time, boxing gloves can become covered with perspiration and oils.  In combination with each other, these substances can lessen the effects of your punches, thus hindering your ability to land those punches squarely.
  • Promote Good Hygiene. Let’s face it.  Boxing gloves can become very dirty and odorous over time, and properly cleaning them after each use can significantly stem that problem, if not eliminate it.  This means cleaning and sanitizing both the outside and inside of the gloves to tackle any germs and bacteria that may be lingering.
  • Ensure Safety. If the shoe—or the glove—was on the other foot, chances are you would prefer that your opponents and sparring partners clean their boxing gloves and properly disinfect and sterilize them before they are used on you.  This is not only being a good sport, but it just may prevent your opponent from being unduly harmed by the grit and bacteria on an uncleaned pair of boxing gloves.
  • Protect Your Investment. One of the best reasons for disinfecting and maintaining your boxing gloves is to make them last longer.  By properly maintaining your boxing gloves you can ensure they’ll be of use to you for many years to come.

How to Properly Clean Your Boxing Gloves

When it comes to cleaning and maintaining boxing gloves, there are essentially three broad steps involved in the process:  cleaning/sanitizing the exterior of the gloves, doing the same to the gloves’ interior portion, and conditioning and maintaining the boxing gloves between uses. 

However, within each of these broader steps there are actually several smaller steps or objectives that will help you complete the job successfully. 

Here is what you need to do with your boxing gloves after each use.

Step 1:  Cleaning and Drying the Exterior of Your Boxing Gloves

Before you use your boxing gloves to work the bag or spar with a partner, you should definitely start with gloves that are dry and germ-free.  This means that after every use you should definitely be cleaning and sanitizing the exterior or outside part of the gloves. 

This is a fast and easy process, one that, when done well, will make your gloves safe to use the next time around.  To accomplish this task, start by spraying an approved boxing glove cleaner on the outside of the gloves. 

If you do not possess a specific cleaner that is made for this purpose, you can always make your own cleaning solution using a mixture of vinegar (a natural sanitizer) and water.

To make a homemade boxing glove cleaner such as this, start by mixing vinegar and water in equal parts and transferring the resultant solution into an easy-to-use spray bottle.  The beauty of this solution lies not only in its effectiveness as a cleaner against harmful germs and bacteria, but also in the fact that it is inexpensive, all-natural and will not do any harm to the boxing gloves. 

Never substitute any harsh detergents or cleaning agents when performing this chore, as these can negatively impact the leather on the gloves and cause premature cracking and deterioration.

Use your spray bottle to spritz a small amount of the solution onto the boxing gloves.  Then, using a clean microfiber rag that is soft to the touch, clean every inch of the boxing gloves’ exterior. 

Not only should you clean the “business end” of the gloves, but also the wrist portion on both sides where germs can often hide and accumulate. Once you have cleaned the exterior portion of the gloves, use a dry towel to thoroughly dry off the gloves. 

You are now ready to move to the next—and most important—step: cleaning and drying the interior of the gloves.

Step 2:  Cleaning and Drying the Interior of Your Boxing Gloves

The interior of your gloves, especially after a hard-fought bout or workout, is where germs can really start to breed and multiply if you are not extremely careful.  To avoid this, you should definitely take these cleaning and sanitizing steps after every single use.

Prior to using any cleaning solutions to sanitize the inside portion of your boxing gloves, it is vital that you first wipe out any left-over moisture that has accumulated due to perspiration. 

This can be a little tricky due to the small size of most boxing gloves, so you may want to start by removing—or at least loosening—the laces on the wrist portion of the gloves.  Once you have removed or untethered the laces, take a small towel or dry rag and wrap it loosely around your hand. 

Next, alternately place your hand into each of the boxing gloves to sop up any excess moisture.  Make sure to twist your hand as needed to reach every nook and cranny of each glove. 

Once you have thoroughly dried each glove, remove the towel or rag and toss it into the laundry.

Next, use the spray bottle containing the vinegar and water solution and spray the liquid onto another clean towel or rag.  Wrap the towel around your hand and repeat the process you performed when drying the gloves. 

Again, be sure to wipe out every inch of the gloves’ interior to properly sanitize them, killing the germs and bacteria that could otherwise cause your gloves to smell.

Finally, using another clean, dry towel, dry off the inside portion of the gloves just as you did before sanitizing them.

Step 3:  Conditioning and Maintaining Your Boxing Gloves

Once you have thoroughly cleaned and sanitized both the exterior and interior portions of the boxing gloves, you will definitely want to condition them as well.  Boxing gloves are typically made from leather, a material that can dry out and become cracked if not properly cared for and conditioned. 

To avoid that fate, shop for and purchase a genuine “leather conditioner,” an ointment that can be found at most Big Box stores and nearly every reputable sporting goods dealer—conditioners that are used for leather sporting equipment like boxing gloves and baseball mitts.

Once you have purchased your preferred leather conditioner, follow the directions on the bottle or tube and squeeze a small amount onto a clean, dry microfiber rag.  Use the rag to slowly work the conditioner into the leather until no sign of it is left on the boxing gloves.

Last Word

All of these steps—cleaning and drying the exterior, drying/cleaning/drying the interior, and conditioning your boxing gloves—should be carried out after every use to suitably sanitize your gloves and preserve your investment. 

Also, you should definitely think about hanging your boxing gloves in a clean dry environment. 

Refrain from keeping your gloves in a dark and cramped gym bag where germs and bacteria can flourish, but instead use such bags only to transfer your boxing gloves to and from the gym.

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