How to Wash and Care for Gardening Gloves

Gray gardening gloves being scrubbed with soft-bristled brush near outdoor plants

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to $15

The most often used tools in the garden are the gardener's hands. To protect them from thorns, chemicals, and the need for daily manicures, we use gardening gloves. Gardening gloves can be made from leather, cotton, rubber (including latex or neoprene), or a combination of fabrics and other synthetic materials. How you wash them depends on the glove's material. While no real gardener has pristinely clean gloves, you should know how to wash garden gloves thoroughly after handling chemicals or diseased plants to prevent the spreading of the problem and to help the gloves last.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Cotton or Synthetic Fiber Gloves

  • Garden hose or utility sink with faucet
  • Bucket (optional)
  • Washer
  • Soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush
  • Mesh lingerie bag (optional)
  • Drying rack or clothesline
  • Clothespins (optional)

Rubber Gloves

  • Garden hose or utility sink with faucet
  • Soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush
  • Drying rack or clothesline
  • Clothespins (optional)

Leather Gloves

  • Soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush
  • Washcloths


Cotton or Synthetic Fiber Gloves

  • Regular laundry detergent

Rubber Gloves

  • Soap or dishwashing liquid

Leather Gloves

  • Saddle soap or castile soap
  • Linseed oil or leather conditioner


Detergent Regular detergent, Dishwashing liquid, or Saddle soap
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Gentle or handwash
Drying Cycle Air-dry only
Special Treatments Handle gloves used for pesticide applications with care
Iron Settings Do not iron
How Often to Wash Each time after handling chemicals or diseased plants
Materials and tools to clean gardening gloves

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Wash Cotton or Synthetic Fiber Knit Gloves

These instructions can be followed if the gloves are made from fabric only or have palms coated with latex, nitrile, neoprene, or PVC.

  1. Rinse Away Loose Soil

    Use a garden hose or a bucket filled with water to rinse away surface dirt.


    The easiest way to rinse away loose soil from garden gloves is to keep them on your hands. Hold your hands under a running garden hose or in a bucket of water and rub them together to loosen the soil.

    Patterned gloves placed in bucket of water to loosen soil

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Select the Washer Settings

    Set the washer to the regular cycle and cold water.

    Washing machine set to cold water setting

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Pretreat Stains

    If you are concerned about hard-to-remove stains, use a dab of laundry detergent to pretreat the stained areas of the gloves. Work the detergent into the fabric using your fingers or a soft-bristled nylon brush. Let the gloves sit for about 10 minutes before washing. This allows the detergent time to begin breaking down the stains and lifting them from the fabric.

    Patterned gardening gloves scrubbed with nylon brush and laundry detergent

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Wash the Gloves

    Gardening gloves can be washed with a load of similar colors and fabrics. Place them in a mesh lingerie bag for ease in keeping them together in the washer.

    If you would rather handwash the gloves, follow the same pre-wash steps. Use a regular detergent and cold water. Swish and squeeze the gloves through the soapy solution and let them soak for at least 10 minutes. Drain the soapy water and refill the sink or bucket with clean water to rinse the gloves. Squeeze the gloves gently to remove all of the soap until no suds remain. Remove the gloves from the rinse water and squeeze—no wringing—to remove excess water.

    Gardening gloves placed in mesh laundry bag for washing

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  5. Hang to Air-Dry

    Skip the dryer and hang the gardening gloves on a clothes drying rack or outdoor clothesline. The heat of the dryer can cause shrinkage or damage to neoprene-lined palms.

    Patterned gardening gloves air drying on clothes line

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Wash Rubber Gardening Gloves

Rubber, including latex, neoprene, nitrile, or PVC gardening gloves, are ideal for use when handling fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. If used to spread chemicals, do not wash with other gloves.

  1. Pre-Rinse Gloves

    While still wearing the gloves, hold them under a stream of cold water from a garden hose or utility sink.

    Gray latex gardening gloves rinsed under running water

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Wash the Gloves

    Still wearing the gloves, use a bar of soap or a few drops of dishwashing liquid to wash the gloves. For tough stains, use a soft-bristled nylon brush to gently scrub the stains.

    Bar of soap rubbing against latex gardening gloves under running water

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Rinse the Gloves

    Remove the gloves and rinse the outside and inside of the gloves with cold water.

    Latex gardening gloves being rinsed with gardening hose

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Hang to Air-Dry

    Hang the gloves by the fingertips to air-dry on a clothes drying rack or outdoor clothesline. Mildew can form on the inside of the gloves if they do not dry quickly. Once the outside is dry, turn the gloves inside out and allow more time for the inside to dry before storing the gloves.

    Latex gardening gloves hung on clothes line to air dry

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Wash Leather Gardening Gloves

Leather gardening gloves offer the most protection for heavy jobs like moving stones or pruning thorny shrubs but are usually not as good for jobs that require nimble fingers. They're often made from goatskin, pigskin, or cowhide, which are all materials that are prone to drying out and cracking if not maintained.

  1. Remove Loose Soil

    Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any loose soil. If the gloves are damp and muddy, allow them to dry and then brush away the soil.

    Leather gardening gloves scrubbed with nylon brush

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Clean With Saddle Soap

    Leather gloves must be cleaned with a gentle leather soap (saddle soap or Castile soap). Do not use a regular laundry detergent.

    Apply the saddle soap with a washcloth in gentle circular motions. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the soil is transferred. Once the entire surface of the gloves has been cleaned, dampen a clean washcloth and wipe away the soap.

    Allow the gloves to air-dry away from direct sun or heat.

    Leather gardening gloves wiped with wash cloth and leather soap for cleaning

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Condition the Leather Gloves

    To keep the leather soft and supple, it must be conditioned after cleaning. Once the gloves are dry, use linseed oil or a commercial leather conditioner to treat the gloves. Use a soft dry washcloth to spread the oil or conditioner over the gloves and gently rub it in. Allow the gloves to air-dry before storing.

    Leather gardening gloves wiped with washcloth and leather conditioner

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Treating Stains on Garden Gloves

Stains on garden gloves aren't really a big deal. These gloves, regardless of what material they are made of, are meant to get dirty.

Garden Glove Care and Repairs

While small holes in cotton or synthetic knit gloves can be repaired with a needle and thread, holes in rubber or leather gloves cannot. However, try a coating of Plasti Dip for rubber garden gloves to stop fraying and patch tiny holes, though it may be a temporary fix. It is better to replace damaged gloves to protect your hands.

Storing Garden Gloves

Be sure the gloves are thoroughly dry after cleaning to prevent mildew before storing them in a dry, conditioned space. One of the best ways to store gloves is to clip them together and hang them on the inside wall of your garage. That way the air can easily circulate around the gloves to keep out mold and mildew.

How Often to Wash Gardening Gloves

Regardless of what material your gardening gloves are made from, you should clean them every time you garden. Chances are that you have encountered infected plants or chemicals that should not fester on your gloves. If you don't clean them, the toxins can spread to healthy parts of your garden.

Tips for Washing Gardening Gloves

  • Check the cleaning instructions on your leather garden gloves. Some can be tossed in a washing machine, but others can only be conditioned.
  • For cotton gloves, make sure to focus on cleaning the cuff area when washing them. That's where a lot of dirt and debris can congregate.
  • Rubber gloves are the easiest gloves to clean since they don't absorb water. But they are prone to mold and mildew so make sure you dry the gloves and store them properly between uses. Hanging them up by a clip can keep them dry and aired out.
  • Check the shape of your gloves as they are drying. You will likely have to manually restore the shape of your gloves, especially the fingers of heavy-duty rubber or leather gloves, as they are drying so they don't stay misshapen.
  • How do you clean smelly garden gloves?

    No matter how smelly your garden gloves have become, the best way to rid the odor is to soak them in warm water with laundry detergent. Rinse and air-dry for best results. These are gardening gloves and they don't need to look or smell perfect. You can also keep garden gloves from smelling by using scented antibacterial soap to clean them. If the smell is coming from inside the gloves, try dousing them in baby powder, just like you do with smelly shoes and sneakers.

  • Can you put gardening gloves in the washing machine?

    It depends on the material and the cleaning instructions on the label. But in general, putting your gardening gloves in a washing machine can weaken the integrity of the fabric. Never put leather, suede, or deerskin garden gloves in a washing machine or dryer because they can either shrink or bleed.

  • How do you revive leather garden gloves?

    Thick, sturdy leather garden gloves are lovely to wear since they protect you from thorns, chemicals, and weeds. But they stiffen and crack, making them very uncomfortable to wear to work in around the garden. Leather conditioner will save your gloves. If you don't have any, try rubbing shaving cream into the gloves and wiping it down after 12 hours. Or, make a DIY conditioner with baby soap, warm water, plus a few drops of white vinegar mixed together. Wipe the mixture into your gloves with a microfiber cloth but do not rinse out.