How to Clean and Care for Leather Gloves

Leather gloves are a timeless and stylish accessory that can protect your hands while also making a fashion statement. However, since leather is a natural material, gloves made from leather require some special care and cleaning methods to keep them looking their best. Here is an in-depth guide on how to properly clean and care for leather gloves.

Assessing the Gloves’ Condition

Before cleaning your leather gloves, inspect them closely. Check for stains, scuffs, discoloration, stiffness, cracks, or other damage. Make note of any problem areas so you can target them during the cleaning process. Also, determine if the leather is smooth or suede. Smooth leather can handle wet cleaning methods, while suede should only be brushed or spot cleaned.

Removing Dirt and Debris

If the gloves just need a quick refresh, wipe them with a dry microfiber cloth to remove surface dirt and dust. For deeper cleaning, use a leather cleaner or mild soap and water:

  • Mix a small amount of mild soap like dish soap or leather cleaner with warm water. Use a soft cloth dampened with the solution to gently wipe away grime.
  • Avoid saturating the leather. Use light, circular motions to lift dirt.
  • Rinse with a cloth dampened with clean water.
  • Allow to fully air dry away from direct heat or sunlight.

This method works for smooth leather gloves. For suede, use a suede brush to lift dirt.

Conditioning the Leather

Once dirt is removed, condition the gloves with a leather conditioner or oil. This helps moisturize the leather to prevent cracks and restore suppleness.

  • Apply a small amount of conditioner to a soft cloth, then gently rub it into the leather using circular motions.
  • Avoid over-saturating the leather – a little goes a long way.
  • Allow the conditioner to soak in for a few minutes, then buff the gloves with a clean cloth to remove any excess.

Condition every few months to keep leather gloves soft and flexible.

Removing Stubborn Stains and Discoloration

For more stubborn stains like ink or makeup, try these techniques:

  • Baby wipes – Gently rub the stained area with a baby wipe. The emollients help break down residue.
  • Vinegar – Use a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar and dab on the stain. Vinegar can help lift discoloration.
  • Rubbing alcohol – Use a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to lightly tamp stubborn makeup or ink stains.
  • Leather cleaner – Use a specially formulated leather cleaner applied with a soft cloth or sponge, if the above methods are ineffective.

Avoid harsh cleaners like bleach that may further damage the leather. Test stain removers on an inconspicuous area first.

Removing Odors from Gloves

To freshen the scent of leather gloves, try any of these methods:

  • Place gloves in a plastic bag with dryer sheets or coffee grounds overnight. The absorbing agents help draw out odors.
  • Fill gloves with crumpled newspaper and let sit overnight. Newspaper absorbs moisture that causes smells.
  • Lightly spritz the inner lining with lemon juice or vodka. The acidity or alcohol help neutralize odors without damaging leather.
  • Air gloves outside on a breezy day. Moving air helps odors dissipate.

Avoid perfumes or heavily scented products that may overwhelm the leather’s natural smell.

Storing Leather Gloves Properly

Use these tips to extend the life of leather gloves between wearings:

  • Store in a cool, dry place away from direct light, heat, or humidity. These elements damage leather over time.
  • Smooth out the fingers and shape before storing to prevent creases or warping.
  • Stuff gloves lightly with tissue paper to retain the shape and absorb moisture.
  • Keep gloves in a glove box, drawer, or closet. Do not just toss them in a handbag.
  • Alternate between pairs of gloves so the leather has time to rest and dry out before each wearing.

With proper care between uses, quality leather gloves can last for many years and retain their shape, softness, and appeal.

When to Consider Replacement

If leather gloves become irreparably cracked, misshapen, or stained, it may be time to replace them. Typical signs of wear and tear indicating gloves have reached the end of their lifespan include:

  • Brittleness or stiffness that does not improve with conditioning
  • Permanent stains that cannot be removed
  • Holes, tears, or rips, especially in key areas like the fingers or seams
  • Noticeable scratches, scuffs or abrasions that affect the look and feel
  • Discoloration or fading that progressively worsens
  • Odor that persists despite attempts to remove it
  • Overall deteriorated quality or neglect

If the gloves are still structurally sound, a professional leather worker may be able to repair damage in some cases. But extensive wear often necessitates replacing gloves entirely. With proper care, quality leather gloves should last for years before needing replacement.

Protecting Gloves When Wearing Them

To keep leather gloves in good shape when wearing them:

  • Apply a leather protector spray that creates a barrier against moisture, salt, and dirt. Reapply after several wearings.
  • Avoid exposing the gloves to rain or snow. The moisture can damage leather.
  • Take gloves off before applying perfumes, creams, or hand sanitizers which may stain.
  • Pull gloves on gently using both hands to keep from overstretching the leather.
  • Smooth gloves back into shape after wearing and allow to fully air dry before storing.

Handle leather gloves carefully when wearing them to prevent premature damage or wear.

Key Tips for Caring for Leather Gloves

  • Assess the condition and determine suede vs. smooth leather before cleaning
  • Use mild soap and water applied gently with a soft cloth
  • Condition regularly with leather oil or conditioner
  • Remove stains carefully using baby wipes, vinegar, rubbing alcohol or leather cleaner
  • Absorb odors by stuffing with dryer sheets, newspaper or spraying with lemon juice
  • Store properly in a cool, dry place away from direct light or humidity
  • Consider professional repairs or replacement if gloves become irreparably damaged
  • Protect by spraying with protector, taking care when wearing, and drying fully after use

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you wash leather gloves?

Use a small amount of mild soap mixed with warm water. Dampen a soft cloth, then gently wipe the gloves using light circular motions. Avoid soaking the leather. Rinse with a clean damp cloth, then allow to fully air dry.

Can you put leather gloves in the washing machine?

No, do not put leather gloves in the washing machine or dryer. The agitation and heat can damage the leather. It is best to hand wash leather gloves as described above.

Should you store leather gloves in their box?

It’s best not to just store leather gloves loose in their original box long-term. Keeping them in the box can lead to creases and misshaping. Instead, lightly stuff the gloves with tissue paper and store in a cool, dry place like a drawer or closet.

How do you soften old dried out leather gloves?

Apply a leather conditioner like mink oil or jojoba oil. Gently rub it into the leather using circular motions. Let the gloves absorb the oil for a few minutes, then buff away any excess. The conditioner moisturizes dried leather to make it soft and flexible again.

Why do leather gloves smell bad?

Leather can absorb sweat and oils from your hands which causes unpleasant odors over time. To remove smells, try stuffing the gloves with dryer sheets or coffee grounds, or spritzing with lemon juice or vodka, then allowing time for the odors to dissipate.

How can you repair small holes or tears in leather gloves?

For minor holes or tears, leather glue or clear nail polish can temporarily patch the spot. For best results, take heavily damaged gloves to a professional leather worker who may be able to stitch or patch holes and weak seams.


Leather gloves require some periodic care and maintenance to keep them clean, conditioned, odor-free, and structurally sound. But with proper cleaning techniques, storage methods, and everyday wear and handling, quality leather gloves can remain beautiful and durable accessories for many years. Follow these tips for assessing glove condition, removing dirt and stains, moisturizing the leather, eliminating odors, and determining when replacement may be necessary. With a little diligent care, your leather gloves can deliver lasting wear and classic sophistication.