How To Clean Boxing Gloves

Written by
Legends Boxing
Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Have you ever been training and seemed to keep catching a whiff of something so offensive and vile that it basically hurt your feelings? 

Have you ever angrily stomped around the room, searching for this criminal act's culprit only to realize that the true perpetrators were located directly above your very own forearms? 

One of the harsh truths of boxing is that without some proper hygiene and care, your gloves can end up smelling far worse than a rotten egg sandwich left on the floor of a paper mill on a hot summer’s day. 

In the ring, boxing gloves are solid armor, but the idea of cleaning them comes with a bitter afterthought. Simply put, trying to clean boxing gloves challenges the norm of regular washing. So, cleaning them is a fundamentally different ballgame. 

For those who don't know, regular hand washing or machine wash won't do the trick to clean your boxing gloves thoroughly. 

Sure, machine washing might help, but the truth is that this tends to cause damage to the gloves. So if you want to preserve the investment on your boxing gloves, you can't afford to machine wash them. 

So, how does one achieve such a feat to effectively get rid of the rotten stinky-feet smell from their boxing gloves, you might ask? Great question. If you're interested in learning how to clean your boxing gloves - keep reading.

Why Do Your Gloves Stink?

The stench that comes from stinky gloves is the odor of bacteria breeding. Yes, you read that right - from bacteria breeding. Whether you like it or not, your gloves are a perfect bacterial breeding ground since you'll be sweating a lot during each training, and moisture promotes bacterial growth. To make matters even worse, many people tend to throw their gloves in a bag immediately after using them, which is also a place for bacteria to breed and grow, causing your gloves to stink even more. 

This is because bacteria and harmful germs thrive in dark, warm environments. By keeping your boxing gloves clean and dry, you can keep stinky smells at bay. Here are some methods to keep your gloves clean and smelling fresh.

Preventive Care

Since prevention is usually always better than a cure, take steps to prevent your boxing gloves from getting bacteria and germs. 

Let them dry completely. Allowing your gloves to dry completely after every use is crucial in keeping them clean because germs need moisture to survive, and bacteria needs moisture to grow. If you don't dry your boxing gloves after wearing them, they may become smelly.

  • Try hanging your boxing gloves in a well-ventilated area.
  • You can also let them air-dry in the sun as well, just be sure to check the weather for rain!

Wipe your gloves after every use. Another excellent method to keep your gloves from stinking up a storm is by merely wiping them inside and out with a clean towel after use. Doing this will greatly minimize the amount of moisture in your gloves to prevent bacteria from growing. 

Don't put your gloves in your bag. We already covered this but we are listing it again because it's important - never place your boxing gloves in your bag immediately after using them. 

  1. Place your gloves in a plastic bag after use.
  2. Take your gloves home, remove them from the plastic bag, and let them air-dry.
  3. Once they are done drying, it is then safe to put them in your bag. 

Use hand wraps. One of the best methods to soak up sweat in your gloves and prevent them from getting moist is by using hand wraps. Hand wraps will act like a sponge and absorb the moisture from padding the inside of your boxing gloves. This method works really well, but you will need to clean your hand wraps on a regular basis. Otherwise, they will start to stink, which will cause your gloves to stink too. 

Wash your hands. This may sound kind of silly as we are sure you don't need to be told to wash your hands, but it's an important preventative measure, so we're including it to the list! If you are trying to prevent your boxing gloves from smelling like yesterday's garbage, always wash your hands and dry them completely before slipping them on. 

Hands carry so much bacteria and so many germs. When you don't wash them, all of that bacteria goes directly into your gloves, and with the moisture from when you sweat, that bacteria is sure to grow. Do yourself a favor, and before slipping on your boxing gloves, always wash your hands. 

Pro tip: Keeping a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer is an excellent way to help keep your hands clean and your boxing gloves from smelling as a precaution before you even slip them on. 

Methods for Cleaning Your Gloves

Let's face it - we're all human and not perfect. If you forget to dry your boxing gloves and they become stinky, these methods will for sure help you to clean them. 

Use an anti-bacterial spray to kill germs. Using a great anti-bacterial spray on your boxing gloves will zap germs and bacteria, proving an easy fix to your stink problem. 

  1. First, unlace or unwrap your gloves.
  2. Next, spray them with an anti-bacterial spray.
  3. Finally, place them in an open and ventilated area to dry. 

Try the saltwater soak approach. Soaking your gloves in a saline solution overnight is a surefire way to kill bacteria and rid your gloves from the stink, once and for all. This solution will break down bacteria and dissolve it, leaving behind fresh-smelling gloves. However, this method can be dangerous for gloves made of certain materials that are not reactant to saltwater, so be sure to do a little bit of research before using it. 

  1. Add saline water to a large empty container.
  2. Place your gloves in the solution.
  3. Leave them overnight and let them dry in a ventilated area the next morning.

Freeze your gloves overnight. Freezing your gloves overnight may seem a little odd, but it is a very effective way to kill bacteria. Put your boxing gloves in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer overnight. In the morning, remove your gloves from the freezer and leave them in a dry ventilated area. If your gloves are extra stinky, you can leave them in the freezer for two nights instead of one before taking them out to air-dry.

The stuffing method. To prevent bacterial growth, some boxers like to stuff their gloves to air them out. However, what they stuff their gloves with is up for them to decide. Most fighters commonly use newspapers, paper towels, or just a simple bar of soap. Glove dogs are also used, which are small cotton bags filled with cedar chips that naturally draw out bacteria.

Dryer sheets are also commonly used in the stuffing method, but they don't exactly do anything to assist in the actual drying process to get rid of bacteria. Instead, dryer sheets just help to mask the smell. However, this odor mitigation method can be paired with any of the other tips to help keep your boxing gloves from smelling. 

Use apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has to be one of the most versatile products on the market. In addition to supporting weight loss efforts and adding flavor to popular dishes, It can be used to clean many different things like purses and shoes. Apple cider vinegar is also beneficial for cleaning boxing gloves and removing funky smells as well. It's a super easy and effective method to freshen your gloves in a pinch.

  1. Pour about one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into your hand or onto a clean towel.
  2. Rub it inside your gloves thoroughly.
  3. Next, allow your boxing gloves to dry overnight in a well-ventilated area.
  4. You should notice your gloves no longer stink in the morning, but if you still notice a smell, repeat the process.

Try baking soda. One of the oldest tricks in the book known universally for its odor-killing power is baking soda. A sprinkle of this powerful stuff in your dry gloves should help alleviate some of the stinky odor. 

  1. Take a pinch of baking soda and simply sprinkle it into each glove.
  2. Let the powder sit for a couple of hours.
  3. Remove the baking soda by holding the gloves with the open side down and giving them a good shake.

The Takeaway

Taking care of your boxing gloves is not a science examination: you don't have to overthink it. In fact, just leaving your gloves simply out to air in the open and giving them a good wipe down following an intense training session is usually sufficient to leave them smelling fresh. 

If you're still having issues with cleaning your gloves after giving some of our methods listed above a try, get with your trainer for advice. 

Trainers like the ones at Legends Boxing have a ton of experience not only with different boxing techniques and skills, but also dealing with things like smelly boxing gloves and hand wraps. 

Don't be afraid to pick their brains and ask questions when you need help, whether it’s asking how to learn proper footwork or how to clean your boxing gloves - that's what they're there for! 


Written by
Legends Boxing
Tuesday, September 1, 2020