HOW TO: clean leather gloves

Miss Thrifty9 January 27, 2014

how to clean leather gloves

How awful is our January weather? I don’t know about you, but I’m kitted out like an Eskimo at the moment.

Last year I picked up a pair of fleece-lined, black leather gloves in the Debenhams sale (I see the same gloves are on sale again at the time of writing). They are perfectly lovely, and the only gloves that will keep my hands warm right now. Stuffed down into coat pockets all day, however, my leather gloves were already beginning to look a little old and grubby.

So I turned to my trusty pocket bible: Make Do & Mend (Ministry of Information, 1943).

How to clean leather gloves

1. Make sure the gloves really are washable. Chamois leather, woollen, string or cotton can all be washed, but never suede.

2. First try rinsing leather gloves in plain warm water as this will often get them clean. If not, wash them in warm soapy water.

3. Put all gloves on your hands to wash them.

4. Rinse thoroughly and blow out the fingers when you put them to dry.

5. Never put leather gloves near a fire or radiator. This will crack them.

6. Put the gloves on your hands occasionally while they are drying to keep their shape.

I must come clean (no pun intended) and confess that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of washing my leather gloves in soapy water. Soap has a drying effect; when leather dries, it cracks. So I have added a seventh step of my own:

7. When the gloves are dry, apply a little linseed oil with a clean, soft cloth. Leave for a minute, then rub it in well.

This is the same linseed oil that I use in my homemade leather food recipe for leather sofas and chairs. If you don’t have any knocking about, olive oil will do the job. Truly: if the gloves haven’t been pulled out of shape, this makes them look as good as new.

Make Do And Mend also has some useful tips for caring for skin gloves. (Think: evening gloves and/or gloves that are thinner and more delicate than the thick leather gloves we tug on in the winter.)

  •  You are lucky if you lucky if you have glove stretchers for your skin gloves, but if you haven’t you can still help them to keep their shape by gently pulling out the fingers when you take them off and putting them in a log box, or little drawer to themselves.
  • Never roll skin gloves into a ball.
  • Allow yourself an extra minute for getting into your best gloves the proper way – that is, fingers first and thumb last. Impatient tugs are fatal to well-fitting skin gloves. 
  • In very cold weather, hold them between your hands a moment or two to warm the skins slightly; they will then be more supple.

I know it’s a bit niche, but if you have any additional glove-cleaning tips or ideas, please do share them. Leather gloves should last for a long time – and with the right care, they will.

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9 Responses to “HOW TO: clean leather gloves

Mevsim says:

Reckon the soapy solution/olive oil might work on a leather handbag (or man-bag to be exact). After some years of being kicked around on public transport and carrying kids’ snacks, work stuff and general tat, it’s terribly grubby. Will try this! Thanks!! Mevsim.

January 27, 2014 at 10:22 am

Interesting! I have several pair that can do with cleaning. As to soap drying them, do you think Dove may be THE soap for washing gloves?

January 30, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Good to know!!! I just bought my husband leather gloves for my husband for Christmas so this will definitely help 🙂 (he can be a bit messy)

February 2, 2014 at 2:46 am

Alex says:

I don’t own or like wearing gloves but I was intrigued by this post! All knowledge is good knowledge, and I like the idea of wearing leather gloves indoors to re-shape them because then you can pretend you’re a ‘Bond Villain’ for a few minutes (maybe that’s just me).

March 10, 2014 at 8:02 pm

june tall says:

Any ideas then for a charity shop find – a Bally patent leather handbag that feels really sticky?

April 4, 2014 at 1:25 pm

EYRIE says:

What about putting linseed\oil right in the warm water to help it emulsify? Then soak the gloves for a while.. just a thought. I’m going to try it. Wish me luck.

October 23, 2015 at 11:01 pm

Jeannine McAndrew says:

The best way to clean leather gloves is with saddle soap. This is specially formulated for cleaning leather and it keeps it moist and supple. Hope this helps!

March 7, 2017 at 11:23 am

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