How to Wash Leather Gloves

Leather gloves surrounded with cleaning materials and houseplant

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Leather gloves can range from study, thick work gloves to sports gloves to help improve your performance to stylish leather accessories to match your ensemble. Whatever type of gloves you choose, leather provides durability, warmth, and comfort.

Gloves can be found in different finishes, weights, and qualities of leather.

  • Suede: Natural suede leather is created from the soft underside of a split-grain animal hide. It has a nappy finish that is easily stained.
  • Nubuck: Similar to suede in appearance, nubuck uses the top of the animal hide which is finely sanded and buffed to produce the softest, velvety leather finish.
  • Aniline: Aniline leather is full-grain leather that has been treated with the chemical aniline. This is the most common type of leather used for winter, work, and sports gloves.
  • Nappa: The highest grade leather, Nappa leather is very soft, supple, and uses a full-grain sheep or lamb hide.

Eventually, all types of gloves will get dirty from perspiration and contact with surfaces. Suede and nubuck leather gloves require special treatments for cleaning. Learn how to wash aniline and Nappa gloves leather gloves so they will last.

Detergent  Saddle soap or Castile soap
Water Temperature Warm
Cycle Type Hand-wash only
Drying Cycle Air-dry only
Special Treatments  Use leather conditioner after washing
Iron Settings Do not iron

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Small bowl or mixing cup
  • Absorbent towels
  • Soft-bristled brush

Materials

  • Saddle or Castile soap
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Leather conditioner
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Baking soda

Instructions

Tip

If you have leather gloves that are lined or trimmed with natural fur, it is best to have them cleaned by a professional furrier. Home cleaning, other than removing light stains on the fingertips, can result in damage to the fur.

Materials and tools to clean leather gloves

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  1. Pretreat Heavy Soil

    In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together equal amounts of warm water and distilled white vinegar. Dampen a microfiber cloth with the mixture and gently wipe the stained areas. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the soil is transferred.

    If the gloves have mud splatters, allow the mud to dry before attempting to clean it away. Use a soft-bristled brush to brush it away and then treat any remaining stains.

    Heavy soil pretreated with distilled white vinegar, water and microfiber cloth

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Remove Ink Stains

    To remove ink stains from leather, dip a cotton swab in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Start at one end of the ink stain and gently rub it with the swab. Do not scrub because that can damage the leather. As the ink is transferred, throw away the swab and use a fresh one. Work slowly to prevent the ink stain from spreading.

    Cotton swab wiping ink stain on leather glove with rubbing alcohol

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Prepare a Cleaning Solution

    In a small bowl, create a sudsy solution of warm water and a mild liquid soap like Castile or saddle soap. If you are using a bar or gel soap in a tin, wet a microfiber cloth and rub it across the bar to create a lather on the cloth.

    Mild liquid soap and water mixed in small dish for cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Wash the Exterior of the Gloves

    Lay the gloves flat on an absorbent towel. Use the soapy cloth to wipe away grime from the gloves starting at the wrist and working toward each fingertip. Be sure to clean well between each finger. Do not saturate the leather, but focus on cleaning the surface.

    Rinse the cloth often as the soil is transferred and reapply soap as needed. Turn the gloves over and repeat on the other side.

    Soapy cloth wiping exterior of leather gloves

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  5. Clean the Interior of the Gloves

    If possible, turn the gloves inside out and repeat the cleaning steps. If the gloves are lined in faux fur or shearling, wipe down the interior with a cloth dampened with a 50:50 percent mixture of distilled white vinegar and water to help control bacteria and odor.

    Tip

    To help control odor in fur-lined gloves between cleanings, clip the gloves to a clothes hanger with the fingers down. Sprinkle the inside of the gloves with dry baking soda and allow them to hang for 24 hours. Turn the gloves inside out and brush out the baking soda before wearing again.

    Interior of leather gloves wiped with dampened cloth

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  6. Rinse the Gloves

    Use a clean, damp microfiber cloth to "rinse" the gloves on both sides. Wipe away any sudsy residue paying careful attention to the seams and areas between the fingers. Rinse the cloth and wring well to prevent excess moisture as you work.

    Clean damp microfiber cloth rinsing the exterior of leather gloves

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  7. Air-Dry the Gloves

    Place the gloves, right side out, on a clean, absorbent towel to air-dry. Never place leather gloves in direct sunlight or near a heat source to speed drying. Check on them after an hour and put them on your hands to help shape and stretch the leather. If the inside feels exceptionally damp, turn them inside out. Wait another hour, turn them right side out, and put them on again to help them dry smoothly. Most gloves dry completely in less than eight hours.

    Leather gloves placed on striped towel to air dry

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  8. Condition the Leather

    To keep the leather soft and supple, use a commercial leather conditioner on the exterior of the gloves. Follow the application instructions on the label.

    Exterior of leather gloves wiped with commercial leather conditioner on brown cloth

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Repairs to Leather Gloves

If your gloves have a ripped seam, take them to a shoe repair shop for repairs. Most attempts at home repair are very obvious and can cause additional damage.

Storage of Leather Gloves

When not in use, leather gloves should be completely dry before storing. Place them in a breathable cotton bag to protect them from dust but with enough air circulation to prevent mildew from forming. Storage in a plastic bin can cause white leather gloves to yellow.