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.