How to Wash and Care for Gardening Gloves

Gardening gloves are an essential tool for any gardener. They protect your hands from dirt, debris, and plant irritants while you work. However, gloves get dirty and wear out over time. Properly washing and caring for your gardening gloves will extend their life and ensure they continue providing the protection you need.

Why It’s Important to Wash Gardening Gloves

Gardening gloves pick up a lot of dirt, soil, sap, and other substances as you garden. Allowing these materials to remain on the gloves can:

  • Cause the material to break down faster from abrasion. Dirt particles act as an abrasive and can wear through the fabric over time.
  • Spread plant diseases and pests to your other plants. Many plant pathogens can remain viable on gloves and tools long after you’ve finished in one part of the garden.
  • Irritate skin. Substances like plant sap and pesticides can cause skin irritation if left on gloves that are worn repeatedly.
  • Cause gloves to wear out prematurely. Dirt, grime, and debris left on the gloves can get ground into the material, shortening their lifespan.

Washing gloves regularly removes these damaging materials, extending the usable life of your gloves while also protecting your hands and plants.

How to Wash Leather, Canvas, and Cotton Gardening Gloves

Most gardening gloves are made from leather, canvas, cotton, or a blend of these materials. Here’s how to properly wash them:

By Hand

  • Rinse away excess dirt under running water. Focus on caked on areas.
  • Mix a small amount of mild soap like dish soap or laundry detergent with warm water. Avoid harsh detergents.
  • Swish the gloves gently in the soapy water, massaging dirt away from the material. Avoid vigorously scrubbing.
  • Rinse gloves thoroughly under running water. Repeat if needed to remove all soap.
  • Blot excess moisture with a clean towel and allow the gloves to air dry completely before using again.

In the Washing Machine

  • Shake off any loose dirt outdoors.
  • Place gloves in a mesh wash bag. This prevents damage from tossing around in the machine.
  • Wash gloves on a gentle cycle using cold water and mild detergent.
  • Allow gloves to air dry completely. Do not put wet gloves into the dryer.

Tips for Washing Gardening Gloves

  • Turn gloves inside out before washing. This exposes any inner dirt and residue.
  • Use a soft brush on extremely dirty areas. Avoid aggressive scrubbing that can damage the material.
  • Wash gloves after each use for longevity. Don’t allow dirt and grime to accumulate.
  • Wash gloves separately from other laundry. Garden soils often contain abrasives that can damage other fabrics.

How to Care for Leather Gardening Gloves

In addition to regular washing, leather gardening gloves also require occasional conditioning to prevent cracks and maintain suppleness.

Conditioning Leather Gardening Gloves

  • Apply a leather conditioner. Massage a thin layer into both the inside and outside surfaces.
  • Allow the conditioner to soak in for 5-10 minutes.
  • Wipe away any excess conditioner with a clean cloth. You only need a thin coat.
  • Allow gloves to air dry completely before using. Condition every few months.
  • Look for conditioners made specifically for suede leather gloves when applicable. General leather conditioners can discolor suede.

Storing Leather Gardening Gloves

  • Always allow wet leather gloves to fully air dry before storage to prevent mold growth.
  • Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Heat and moisture can damage leather.
  • Stuff gloves with paper towels or rags to help maintain shape and absorb moisture.
  • Consider cedar balls or cedar blocks in storage containers. Cedar’s aromatic oils naturally repel insects.

How to Wash Rubber Coated Garden Gloves

Rubber coated gloves provide extra waterproof protection. Here’s how to clean rubber gardening gloves:

  • Rinse away loose dirt with water. Avoid using soap on the rubber initially.
  • Create a vinegar cleaning solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water.
  • Dip a soft brush into the vinegar and gently scrub the rubber coating.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • Wash the inner liner as described for other glove materials. Follow washing machine or hand washing steps.
  • Allow rubber gloves to air dry completely turned inside out before re-using.

Vinegar cleans rubber without leaving soapy residue that can degrade the material over time. Avoid submerging rubber gloves in water when possible. Fully air drying after washing is key to preventing issues like cracked rubber. Replace gloves at the first sign of damage or wear to the rubber coating.

How to Wash Nitrile Coated Garden Gloves

Nitrile coated gloves provide excellent puncture and abrasion resistance. To clean:

  • Rinse away excess dirt with water. Avoid using soap initially.
  • Create a 50/50 vinegar and water solution.
  • Dip a soft brush into the solution and gently scrub the nitrile coating.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • Wash the inner liner as described for other materials.
  • Allow gloves to air dry completely turned inside out before re-using.

Nitrile coatings tend to degrade over time with exposure to oils, grease, and heat. Limit glove usage to gardening tasks and avoid contact with petroleum products. Replace nitrile gloves at least annually or when you notice cracking, peeling, or other wear.

How to Wash Microfiber Gardening Gloves

Microfiber gardening gloves are lightweight and extremely durable. To wash:

  • Pretreat any heavily soiled areas with a stain remover or prewash spray.
  • Wash microfiber gloves in the washing machine on a gentle cycle using mild detergent and cold water.
  • Never place wet microfiber gloves into the dryer. The heat can damage the material.
  • Lay flat or hang to air dry. Tumble drying can cause pilling of microfiber material.

Microfiber gloves may not require washing after each use. If gloves are just lightly soiled, simply brush off any dirt or debris before storing for the next use. Proper washing preserves the tight, woven structure of microfiber material to maintain its protective qualities.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Gardening Gloves

While proper care extends the life of gardening gloves, they do eventually wear out. Replace your gloves when you notice:

  • Holes, tears, or rippling in the material
  • Peeling rubber or nitrile coatings
  • Loss of water resistance
  • Lack of dexterity and flexibility
  • Soiling that remains even after washing
  • Visible thinning or wearing of material in high-friction areas like fingers
  • Deterioration like dry, cracked leather

Taking proper care of your gardening gloves by regularly washing and storing them properly helps prevent premature damage. However, the normal wear and tear of yard work will eventually require replacing old, worn out gloves with a fresh pair.

Frequently Asked Questions About Washing Gardening Gloves

How often should you wash gardening gloves?

Ideally, wash gardening gloves after each use. This prevents buildup of abrasive dirt, plant debris, and substances like sap that can shorten glove life. At minimum, wash gloves weekly when in frequent use.

Can you put gardening gloves in the washing machine?

Cotton, leather, canvas, and other fabric gardening gloves can be washed in the machine on gentle cycles. Use cold water and mild detergent. Always air dry instead of machine drying. Avoid the washer for rubber coated gloves.

Should gardening gloves be washed inside out?

Yes, turn gloves inside out before washing to expose any dirt and residue on the interior surfaces. This ensures you remove all contaminants during cleaning.

How do you dry wet leather gardening gloves?

Never place wet leather gloves into a dryer or expose them to direct heat. Always allow leather gloves to fully air dry naturally before storing to prevent damage. Stuff damp gloves with rags or paper towels to help absorb moisture.

What’s the best way to wash nitrile coated gloves?

Create a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Use a soft brush dipped in this solution to gently clean the nitrile coating, then rinse thoroughly. Avoid harsh detergents on nitrile gloves.


Properly caring for your gardening gloves ensures you get the most use from them before needing to replace a worn out pair. Regular washing keeps them sanitary while conditioning and careful storage helps extend useful life. Follow the techniques outlined here for your specific glove materials. With proper care between uses, a quality pair of gardening gloves can provide hand protection for multiple growing seasons.