leather gloves with vinegar and cloth

How to Clean Your Leather Gloves: The Complete Guide

Leather gloves are durable and will last for a long time, but they will last a lot longer if you take care of them. Leather is animal skin, and it reacts in the same way as your own skin does, while also being more absorbent due to the dryness of the material.

This means that leather absorbs oils (especially from your own hands), dirt, grime, liquids, and other particles, along with picking up scuff marks, scratches, and abrasions. When your gloves start to get dirty or worn down, it is time to give them a clean, and a simple cleaning will do wonders for the longevity of your gloves while keeping them looking fresh.

But that does not mean throwing them in the washing machine. Follow our simple step-by-step guides for the best results.

Exterior Glove Cleaning

Before applying any cleaners to your gloves, make sure to choose one that does not have any harsh chemicals. Chemicals can remove the natural oils in leather gloves and that will cause them to break down quicker. Look for mild or saddle soap and follow these steps:

  1. If you have any obvious stains, start with equal parts water and vinegar and use a cotton ball dipped in the vinegar mixture to gently rub out the stain. Let the gloves dry before you move onto the next step.
  2. Use a damp cloth and your chosen mild soap to wipe the entire exterior of the gloves, catching the parts between the fingers too. Wipe off the soap with a microfiber cloth (if you have one or a soft dry cloth if you do not).
  3. Let the leather dry naturally without any added heat and put your hands in them every so often to maintain the shape and to stop them from shrinking.

Interior Glove Cleaning

Leather gloves should not be submerged in water, so you have to be careful when you are cleaning the inside of your gloves. Follow these steps for the best results:

  1. Turn the gloves inside out.
  2. Combine equal parts vinegar and water and put the mixture in a spray bottle.
  3. Gently pray the cleaner onto the interior material, not soaking it.
  4. Let the gloves sit for 20 minutes and then pat them dry.
  5. Let the gloves dry in a well-ventilated area without applying any excess heat.
  6. Once the gloves are dry, turn them right side out.
  7. If the leather is creased, use a leather conditioner to add suppleness.

Pro tip: if you do not have vinegar, or do not want to use vinegar, you can use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol instead.

How to Clean Leather Work Gloves?

Leather work gloves can take a lot of strain, damage, and stress, not to mention the amount of dirt and grime that they are subjected to.

Related: 9 Best Leather Work Gloves for Every Job

When they get really dirty, it is time to give them a thorough wash before the dirt and grime start to attack the leather. The cleaning process will be similar to regular leather gloves, but you can be a little more forceful with the cleaning.

Saddle soap will be the best kind of soap for these gloves but if you cannot find that, look for a mild soap so that you do not strip away any of the essential oils. Once you are ready, follow our simple steps to get your work gloves clean:

  1. Place some saddle soap (or mild soap) in a container with cold water.
  2. If there are any obvious stains, you can use the soapy mixture with a toothbrush to work out the dirt and grime. If there are tough stains, mix up a stronger soap and water mixture to use on them.
  3. Use your fingers and a soft brush to apply the cleaning solution to the gloves, paying attention to the dirtier areas.
  4. Do not wring out the gloves or they could lose their original shape. Simply rinse off the soap with clean, cold water.
  5. Let them drip-dry for a few seconds and then lay them out flat. If you want to hang them to dry, flip them inside out and hang them by the fingers to help retain the shape.
  6. Every couple of hours, massage the gloves with your fingers to help maintain the shape and to stop them from getting stiff.
  7. Keep them out of direct sunlight as they are drying, as that can also cause them to lose their shape.
  8. Once dry, they will be ready to get to work again.

Watch the video below to learn how to restore your leather work gloves and keep them in top condition for years.

How to Clean Suede Leather Gloves

Suede is animal hide that has undergone tanning and buffing; the result is a soft, plush, and delicate material that is perfect for making gloves. Suede is lightweight and looks amazing, but it can be hard to take care of and clean.

For this step-by-step guide, you will need a suede brush (or toothbrush), brown art gum eraser, paper towels, a cloth, vinegar, and cornstarch. Let’s get started:

  1. If there are any water spots that have beaded on the surface of the gloves, use a dry paper towel to dab the surface and remove some of the stain.
  2. For dried-on liquid stains, dab a vinegar-soaked cloth on the stain, using the vinegar sparingly. Repeat this until the stain is as clean as you can get it.
  3. For oil-based stains, pour cornstarch on them and let the powder sit there for an hour (this is best done as quickly as possible after receiving the stain). Shake off the excess cornstarch and use the suede brush to remove the rest.
  4. For dried-on or crusted stains, use the brown art gum eraser. Rub the eraser over any stains to remove them.
  5. Let any cleaning solutions dry after removing as much of them as you can, dabbing with clean water first.
  6. If the above steps do not work, you may be best taking them to a dry cleaner to be professionally cleaned.

Pro tip: Never submerge suede in water.

Here’s a helpful and detailed video about cleaning suede leather products with suede shampoo.

How to Waterproof Leather Gloves

Leather is naturally water-resistant, but that does not mean that it is waterproof. If you think about your own hands, they keep the water out but get wrinkly when you go swimming or stay in the bath for too long. The same can happen with leather, and you will be fine unless you are planning on exposing them to a lot of moisture.

If that is the case, there are a number of store-bought products that can help to enhance the natural water-resistance of your leather gloves. Just be careful with any product as it can change the color of your gloves. Follow our step-by-step guide to apply the waterproofing product:

  1. Clean your leather gloves with a damp cloth if they are not too dirty or use one of our methods above to fully clean them.
  2. Once dry, apply a little of the product to the gloves.
  3. Use your fingers (or the included cloth) to rub the product into the leather, paying particular attention to the seams.
  4. Let the product sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove excess product with a slightly damp cloth.
  6. Let the gloves dry naturally.

Pro tip: Always check the instructions and follow their guide if it differs from ours.

You can also add some leather conditioner to maintain the softness and suppleness of the leather if your gloves are starting to dry out.