Interested in learning how to clean boxing gloves? Well we’ve got you covered. Smelly gear and boxing gloves are some of the things you have to be aware of when training day in and day out.
The last thing you want is your boxing gloves to have a permanent funk (..I’ve been there) so follow the steps below to learn the most optimal method on how to wash your boxing gloves.
Check Out: If your boxing gloves are too far gone it may be time to replace them – check out our post on the best boxing gloves reviewed for every budget here
How to Clean Boxing Gloves – Key Takeaways
- Bacteria and sweat are the main culprits behind foul-smelling boxing gloves.
- Always wash your hands and wear washed/clean hand wraps with your boxing gloves
- Avoid leaving gloves in gym bag, washing in a machine, and lengthy sun exposure.
- To clean boxing gloves you should wipe them down with a disenfectant wipe or damp cloth with mild soap and water after training, leave them open to air dry fully in a well ventilated area, then use a leave in glove deodorizer (see the exact steps and what products we recommend for getting rid of that funk below)
How to Clean Boxing Gloves – #1 Method
1. Clean > 2. Dry > 3. Deodorize
While there are many different products you can use to clean your boxing gloves and keep them clean the best method involves:
- Cleaning (immediately after training)
- Drying (not leaving them in your gym bag)
Our recommendation and the ways I’ve found to keep my boxing gloves clean the longest is by:
1. Immeidately, when you’re done training wipe your gloves down inside and out. This can be with a damp cloth with soap and water, training wipes, apple cider vinegar mixture, or with an essential oil (like tee tree oil).
2. Next, do not leave your gloves in your bag. When you get home open them up and let them air out. You can also use a fan facing the inside of them if you want to make sure they get completely dry.
3. Finally, once they are dry, you can then use a deodorizer like baby powder, drier sheet, deodorizing spray, or boxing glove deodorizer.
Check the below as we also provide tips and other methods to consider:
Boxing gloves can definitely collect more sweat than you realize during a training session. Having that sweat and bacteria sit inside your gloves and then dry up will without a doubt cause them to smell. So the goal is to clean the gloves and get rid of bacteria and let them dry properly (and not in you dark, sweaty gym bag). Again, prevention is key…
Because once your gloves get that enternal funk there’s no going back.
1. Some Methods to Clean Boxing Gloves
Using Training Wipes or Cleaning Spray
My preferred method for keeping my boxing gloves clean is with using training wipes or cleaning spray immediately after training.
Two products that I’m a big fan of for this are:
What’s good about both of these products is that they are:
- Free from alcohol (which can damage your gloves over time)
- Affordable and easy to carry in your gym bag
- Also act as a long term deodorizer
Post-workout, spraying the insides of the gloves with a disinfectant or wiping the inside of them with anit bacterial wipes helps eliminate the breeding bacteria that contribute to the funky smell. Certain products are exclusively designed for cleaning and deodorizing sports gear like gloves. When choosing, opt for a product with natural ingredients to prevent any damage to your gloves and your skin.
Using a Damp Cloth
The simplest method that likely won’t require you to by anyting is to use an antibactrial soap and water on a damp cloth or paper towel.
After each workout, wipe down the gloves, inside and out, with a clean, damp cloth with some mild soap/water. Keep in mind that the cloth should be damp, not soaking wet (as an excessive amount of water can damage the gloves which we will get into further down this post)
The main advatnage of using a damp cloth is the method’s simplicity. It’s easy, quick, and requires no special products. This straightforward step could even be performed right in the locker room after your training session. However, remember that although this method can help in minimizing unpleasant odors and maintaining your gloves, there are other more optimal ways to keep your gloves clean over time.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar
If you don’t want to use the above products and rather stick with a household cleaning item you can always go with Apple Cider Vineger.
- I recommend mixing 1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar with 1 cup of water then you can use it in a spray bottom
- Another option is to dab a cloth into Apple Cider Vinegar then wipe down your gloves inside and out
One method that has proven to be effective in maintaining clean, odor-free boxing gloves is the use of apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties that can aid in the eradication of bacteria and germs that lead to foul odors.
Keep in mind, however, that the vinegar should be used sparingly. Always begin by mixing one part vinegar with two parts water to form a diluted solution.
Side note: using vinegar directly (without diluting) might be too harsh on certain glove materials and can cause unintended damage.
Using Tea Tree Oil (Or Other Essential Oil) Spray
Lasty, if you again prefer more naturaly options, you can always use essential oil sprays specifically tea tree oil by mixing a couple drops with water in a spray bottle.
Known for its robust antimicrobial and antifungal properties, tea tree oil can definitely be incredibly beneficial in eliminating the microbes responsible for the foul smell and preventing them from regrowing.
(However, remember to dilute the essential oil with some distilled water before use, as direct exposure to concentrated essential oil could be too harsh for some glove materials.)
The application is straightforward – you can add few drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle filled with water, and shake well before usage. Spray the mixture into the interior of your gloves, and wipe with a clean cloth if necessary.
Then after, as we mentioned earlier, leave your gloves to dry in a well-ventilated area.
While I’m a big fan of tea tree oil’s scent, other essential oils can also be utilized in a similar fashion. Some popular alternatives include lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus essential oil. Each of them packs its unique scent and set of beneficial properties, but their general propensity for preventing bacterial growth is what makes them valuable aids in preserving your boxing gloves.
So feel free to experiment and see which essential oil fits your preference the best.
2. How to Dry Boxing Gloves
How to Dry Boxing Gloves
After your gloves have been cleaned, the next very important step is to have them dry properly.
Some good methods to dry them out are:
- Open them up and let them sit outside (but not in direct sunlight)
- You can also use a fan aimed at the opening of the gloves
- Although less common you can use a boot dryer
- Finally, you can use a blow dryer
As for drying boxing gloves, the first step should always be to ensure proper air circulation in them. After a training session, it’s tempting to stuff your gloves in a bag and forget about them…please don’t do this.
Allowing your gloves to air dry is one of the best methods to keeping them fresh and bacteria-free. Start by placing your open gloves in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight (which can damage the material of your gloves).
While natural air drying is fine for most people, you can also incorporate handy tools like a fan, hair dyer, or boot dryer (usually used with ski boots). Any of these can cut down on the drying time significantly – especially if you are trainnig again later that day.
Side note: Odor is often aggravated by inadequate drying practices after workouts. Leaving gloves damp allows the moisture-loving bacteria and germs to reproduce more rapidly, leading to a stronger odor. Moreover, repeated use without allowing the gloves to dry thoroughly in-between sessions adds to the breeding of more bacteria, enhancing the foul smell even further.
Lastly, you can also stuff your boxing gloves with newspaper to make sure any moister is soaked up. This should be done after your gloves have been able to sit and air dry for a while.
3. Deodorize Your Boxing Gloves
Using Glove Deodorizers
After you have wiped down your gloves and let them fully dry, you can then use some options to keep them smelling clean like glvoe deodorizers.
These are actually more common than you might think – they’ve are usually called boxing glove deodorizers or “glove dogs”.
I’m a big fan of the “Cedar” scent by Meister:
These are pretty straight forward in that you will just stuff them into your boxing gloves after they are cleaned and fully dry.
While prevention is always the best bet, using glove glove deodoriziers long term will help your gloves smelling fresh longer.
Using Dryer Sheet
Another option for a leave in deodorizer is using a dryer sheet. These are pretty common and affordable and you may even have some in your home already.
The same simple method still applies:
Clean your gloves > dry them > use deodorizer (like these drier sheets)
Dryer sheets, typically used to soften fabrics and prevent static cling in laundry, pack a solid punch when it comes to absorbing smell and moisture.
Not will drier sheets absorb residual sweat or remainign moister, but they also give a fresh scent to your gloves, masking any persistent odors. While the fragrant result is a bonus, the main achievement is the absorption of moisture which prevents bacterial growth, ensuring cleaner gloves.
However, it’s important to know that dryer sheets may mainly assist in odor control and might not be the best solution for the drying process.
Lastly, baby powder is another well-known agent known for its ability to absorb moisture and leave a mild smell.
This works equally well for boxing gloves, where one of the primary concerns is the moisture accumulated from sweat during training.
Baby powder acts as a deodorant, with its moisture-absorbing capabilities keeping your gloves dry and indirectly discouraging bacterial buildup.
It’s as simple as it sounds—lightly dust the inside of your gloves with baby powder, preferably once they are almost fully dried after every use.
However, (like drier sheets) remember that while baby powder helps with moisture and smell, it does not have any antibacterial properties.
It works best when used alongside other cleaning and maintenance practices such as using disinfectant wipes or other cleaning agents.
If you’re really not a fan of any scent inside your gloves (like when using drier sheets or other scented leave-in deodorizers) baking sode is a decent option.
Baking soda is renowned for its powerful odor-neutralizing properties, and it works wonders when it comes to keeping gloves smelling fresh. This simple yet powerful ingredient works by absorbing excessive moisture and neutralizing stubborn odors.
To use baking soda you can:
- Apply a generous coating of baking soda to the insides of your gloves
- Leave it in overnight
- Next morning, gloves a vigorous shake or pat to remove baking soda
Tips for Cleaning Boxing Gloves and Keeping Your Gear Clean
1. Keep gloves properly ventilated and avoid storing them in closed spaces immediately after use.
Post-workout, instead of stuffing the gloves into a gym bag, let them breathe. The more air circulates around and within your gloves, the faster the sweat evaporates, reducing the potential for any unpleasant odors to develop.
Try to air out your gloves in a well-ventilated space immediately after use. Hang them somewhere air freely flows, like near an open window or in front of a fan.
Avoid storing gloves in confined, dark spaces immediately after use. Stuffing sweaty gloves into dark gym bags contribute to the ‘infamous boxing gloves stench’.
2. Wipe the gloves down with antibacterial wipes immediately after a training session.
Using antibacterial wipes after each training session can be beneficial for your boxing gloves’ maintenance. These wipes are a quick and convenient method of cleaning, as they are designed to kill bacteria on contact and help stave off unpleasant smells. It’s the ‘convenience factor’ that makes them stand out, as they can clean and disinfect both the interior and exterior of the gloves in one fell swoop.
Begin by slideing the wipe around the internal area of the gloves, focusing particularly on the finger slots where sweat accumulates. Then, give the external areas a thorough wipe down, paying special attention to the areas where your hands usually grip during boxing sessions.
3. Keep Your Hand Wraps Clean (they are usually the culprit)
How to Wash Boxing Hand Wraps
Both traditional and quick wraps can be machine washed which is probably the easiest and most effective method:
- Ensure the Velcro on quick wraps is secured to prevent tangling (by velcro-ing them together)
- You can also use a garment bag during the wash
- Choose a gentle cycle with cool water
- While most wraps can tolerate a tumble dry on a low setting, air drying is a more recommended approach to maintain the wrap’s integrity.
If you find your hand wraps still have a smell or smell bad after your next training session, you can consider other cleaning methods in addition to machine washing like:
- using a strong detergent (I’m fond of Tide Sport)
- using a combination of vinegar and baking soda
- Machine drying (instead of hang drying) though this may cause some shrinking damage (always check with hand wraps vendor)
4. If Your Gloves Have An Eternal Funk They May Be Too Far Gone
If you’ve come to this post for tips on how to deal with a constant odor of funk attached to your boxing gloves, I’m afraid I might not have the best news.
If you didn’t care for your gloves for the first year and now they constantly smell, sometimes there may not be much you can do.
However, if you want to give it one last try, I’d recommend the below steps:
- Douse the inside and outside with Tea Tree oil spray or wipes
- Let the gloves hang open in front of a fan
- Once fully dry, use leave in deodorizer like those from Meister
If none of the above work, you can go with the nuclear option and buy some scented rubbing alcohol spray it on the inside and outside and let it drive
Keep in mind: alcohol can damage both leather and sythetic leather but if you’re out of options you can give it a shot
Allowing your gloves to reach this state often means that you’re fighting a losing battle. Cleaning such gloves is like trying to save a sinking ship with a tin cup. It might seem a hopeless scenario, but even then, it’s worth giving it a shot.
Deep cleaning techniques, like using teat tree oil, vinegar, or baking soda solutions, could prove quite fruitful. Yet remember, prevention always prevails over cure. Prevention is as simple as ensuring immediate airing of gloves post-workout to prevent breeding of bacteria in the first place.
However, remember that even after incorporating different deep cleaning techniques, some gloves might have gone past the point of no return, leading us to the next point.
5. Prevention Is Always Best
Sometimes boxing glvoes are just too far gone. That’s why I recommend following the recommened protocol from your first training session:
Clean > Dry > Deodorize
By doing the above from the beginning you can guarantee no funk will take hold
6. If Possible Consider Investing in High-Quality Gloves
Quality might sting your wallet a tad more initially, but there’s a reason why cheaper gloves breakdown and smell more quickly than more premium gloves – here are some of the best boxing gloves if you’re ready to upgrade
Why are high-quality gloves a worthwhile investment? It goes beyond the bragging rights; it’s about the increased breathability, durability, and improved functionality. High-quality gloves are engineered to be more sturdy and resilient towards wear and tear and bag odor.
For instance, gloves from renowned brands like Cleto Reyes, Winning, or Hayabusa are famous for their longevity, which could potentially save you a few dollars in the long run.
What to Avoid Doing to Clean Your Gloves
- Do not freeze your gloves
- You can use alcohol based products, but they will likely damage your gloves over time
- Don’t fully immerse your gloves in water
- Do not put your gloves in the washer or dryer
- Do not leave them in the sun
- Do not use silical gel inside gloves (this doesn’t help)
- Do not leave your gloves in your gym bag
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Some Natural Ways to Clean Boxing Gloves?
Some natural ways to clean boxing gloves are with tea trea oil, apple cider vinegar, or baking soda.
- You can use teat tree oil wipes like those from Gold BJJ or mix teat tree oil with water and use it in a spray bottle to spray your boxing gloves inside and out.
- You can also mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts water and dip a cloth or paper towel in it then wipe your glvoe inside and out
- Finally, you can dump a generous amount of baking soda inside your gloves to help kill bacteria while they are drying.
What Makes Boxing Gloves Smell Bad?
So what might cause your boxing gloves to smell bad. Essentially, the offensive odor is a byproduct of bacteria and sweat. When you train intensively, your hands sweat within the gloves.
Boxing gloves left sweaty in a non-ventilated space like gym bag will eventually begin to smell over a period of time.
This damp and enclosed environment becomes a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, particularly when gloves are left in a gym bag or non-ventilated space. These bacteria swiftly multiply, feeding on your sweat, and creating the unpleasant odor associated with used gym equipment.
How to Keep Your Boxing Gloves Clean
To keep your boxing gloves clean you should wipe them down with a disenfectant wipe or damp cloth with mild soap and water after training, leave them open to air dry fully in a well ventilated area, then use a leave in glove deodorizer.
Firstly, keeping your gloves clean requires consistency, the right tools, and dedication to the proper maintenance routine. As we mentioned earlier, prevention is always better so by practicing the above you can avoid your gloves having a constant odor.
How Often Should You Clean Your Boxing Gloves?
The frequency of cleaning your boxing gloves largely depends on how often you use them. If you train regularly multiple times a week, cleaning your gloves after each use is recommended.
This might seem excessive, but sweat and bacteria start to accumulate the moment your hand enters the glove. Regular cleaning ensures your gloves stay sanitary and odor-free because once they gets past a certain point and smell permanently you may be forced to replace them.
Can You Soak Boxing Gloves?
The short and direct answer is, no, you shouldn’t. Boxing gloves are not meant to be submerged fully in water. Water will get wear it shouldn’t and can damage the gloves over time.
The best options are to wipe the glove down fully with a disenfectant wipe both inside and out, let the glove air dry, then use a deodorizer.
Can You Wash Boxing Gloves in the Washing Machine?
Boxing gloves are a definite no-go for the washing machine. Despite the seeming convenience, washing machines can spell disaster for your gloves. The intense agitation and spinning during a machine wash can cause permanent damage, impacting the gloves’ structure and integrity.
Moreover, gloves are stitched together from various materials, leaving inside places highly inaccessible. Tossing them into a washer doesn’t guarantee a thorough clean-up; water might not reach the inside crevices where bacteria often lurk. The abundant amount of water absorbed could also lead to longer-than-expected drying times, which inadvertently promotes bacterial growth – a paradox that drives us back to square one.
How to Dry Boxing Gloves
As for drying boxing gloves, the first step is to ensure proper air circulation in them. After a tough training session, it’s tempting to stuff your gloves in a bag and forget about them, but we strongly recommend not making this a habit.
Take your gloves out open them up and leave them in a well ventilated space to properly air dry – you can also use a fan or leave them by an open window (not in direct sunlight) for quicker drying.
Allowing your gloves to air dry is one of the best methods to keeping them fresh and bacteria-free.
While natural air drying is great, you can also incorporate handy tools like blow dryer, boot dryer, or stuff them with deordozier and drying materials like drier sheets or baking soda.
Lastly, remember, patience is key. Let your gloves completely dry out before using them again to prevent the reintroduction of moisture and bacteria.
Should You Freeze Your Boxing Gloves?
Boxing enthusiasts often contemplate over putative quick fixes to eliminate bad odor and bacterial growth in their gloves. Leaving boxing gloves in the freezer overnight has been suggested as a solution to combat the unpleasant smell. The logic behind this practice is the assumption that the low temperature would conserve the gloves by killing the bacteria, similar to how freezing preserves food.
However, it’s important to realize that while cold temperatures can make some bacteria dormant, it doesn’t exterminate them. Plus freeze and thawnig might needlessly damage your gloves. So we do not recommend freezing your boxing gloves.
As a result, when you defrost your gloves for your next training session, the bacteria, previously rendered dormant by the low temperature, wake up and continue their metabolic activities. Furthermore, consistently freezing your gloves can lead to material damage, especially in the case of leather gloves.
The freezing temperatures can harden the padding inside, making the gloves less effective and uncomfortable to wear.
How Do I Stop My Boxing Gloves From Smelling?
Halting the unpleasant smell emanating from your boxing gloves involves combating the root cause – bacterial growth. Bacteria flourish in warm, moist environments, converting sweat residues into foul-smelling waste products. One effective method of preventing bacterial proliferation is by maintaining a dry interior of the boxing gloves.
After every training session, make it a point to wipe off the sweat from inside your gloves with a non alcohol based disenfectant wipe and let them air dry fully in a well ventilated space.
Furthermore, consider airing out your gloves in a well-ventilated area rather than hastily stashing them in your gym bag, a confined space that could turn into a breeding heaven for bacteria.
Another protective measure involves dealing with bacteria before they even enter your gloves – always wear clean wrist wraps and wash your hands prior to wearing your gloves.
Can I Spray Lysol in My Boxing Gloves?
Yes, you can indeed spray Lysol in your boxing gloves, however, it may not totally deal with your boxing glove odor.
The combination of using disenfectant wipes, air drying, and using leave in deodorizer is the most optimal way for dealing with smelly gloves.
Lysol spray is still a decent stat – when you spray Lysol into your gloves, it instantly interacts with and kills the odor-producing bacteria.
Remember to practice moderation when applying Lysol to your gloves. One or two quick sprays in each glove are usually enough to effectively disinfect them. After spraying, leave the gloves in an open and well-ventilated area to dry, keeping the glove opening as broad as possible to allow proper air flow.
Side note: while Lysol may help eliminate bacteria and bad odor, it’s not designed to handle the heavy-duty sweat absorption required for fresh boxing gloves. For this reason we recommend that optimal routine of: cleaning > drying > deodorizing.
What If I Can’t Get the Smell Out of My Boxing Gloves?
As we mentioned the best method to get the smell out of your gloves by following the below:
To get the smell out of your boxing gloves and keep your gloves clean you should wipe them down with a disenfectant wipe or damp cloth with mild soap and water after training, leave them open to air dry fully in a well ventilated area, then use a leave in glove deodorizer.
If these don’t work you can consider more harsher alcohol based cleaners (but keep in mind alcohol can damage both synthertic leather and leather gloves over time.
Yet, if all the above remedies fail in their mission to refresh your gloves, it might be signaling the gloves are trending towards their end-life. At this point, it may be time to consider buying a new pair of gloves (again, prevention is always best)
How Long Do Boxing Gloves Usually Last?
Heavy bag gloves usually don’t last as long as sparring gloves (also you should never spar with your heavy bag gloves).
- In general, heavy bag gloves can last between one to three years depending on use, quality, and durability
- Sparring gloves tend to last longer due to less use at around two to five years, but in both cases many people will replace their gloves well before they are fully worn out.
Check out: Our post on the best boxing gloves for heavy bag here
Usually, a typical pair of boxing gloves can last between a year and three years, depending on several factors. It’s worth noting that this general lifespan isn’t set in stone—it flexes depending on how often the gloves are used, how they are cleaned and maintained, and the quality of the craftsmanship.
I had a cheap pair of Everlast gloves that lasted a couple months and a pair of Ringside gloves. It’s my opinion that non leather tends to last longer than synthetic leather.
I also had a pair of Rival RB-1s that lasted ~2 years before the seams and velcro made them really not fun to train with.
When Should You Replace Boxing Gloves?
While there is no set timeline, there are some big signals on when its time to replace your boxing gloves:
Generally these are:
- when the padding is permanently compressed or displaced
- when seams appear to fray or become loose
- when velcro is no longer holding and peeling
- when leather exterior shows cracks or tears
- finally, when your gloves have a permanent odor that you are unable to get rid of*
One significant factor is the integrity of the padding. Your gloves should provide adequate protection for your hands. If the padding is noticeably compressed or displaced, it may time to get a new pair.
In addition to padding, the outer material should also be in good condition. If the leather or synthetic exterior is worn out, cracked, or has tears, this is another clear sign. It’s crucial to remember that this exterior is what protects the padding inside and helps distribute the force of your punches.
Lastly, even though it might seem superficial, the smell of your gloves can be an indicator. If your gloves still emit a persistent, unpleasant odor despite your best cleaning efforts, it is potentially due to bacteria and molds that have deeply penetrated into the glove materials. In this situation, it’s not just about avoiding the unpleasant smell, but it’s about your health as these microorganisms can cause skin irritations and infections. You would then need to consider a replacement.
How often Should You Wash Your Boxing Hand Wraps?
Our best practice recommendation is to wash your hand wraps after every use. When you wear these wraps during boxing training, they absorb a significant amount of sweat. Left unwashed, they can become a breeding ground for bacteria and can eventually make your boxing gloves smell.
If possible, having several hand wraps that you rotate is helpful. This way, while one pair is washed and dried, you can use another pair for your next session. If washing after each training session seems impractical, it would still be wise to wash the hand wraps after every 2 – 4 uses.
How Often Should You Replace Your Hand Wraps?
It’s generally advised to consider replacing your hand wraps every 3 to 6 months. Hand wraps are much cheaper than boxing gloves so I always recommend just buying a new pair instead of holding onto a worn or smelly pair.
For people train hard at 5 boxing sessions per week, their hand wraps should ideally be replaced every three months or sooner. However, less active boxers or fitness enthusiasts can expect a slightly longer lifespan in their hand wraps, usually up to six months.
Some indicators that it may be time to repalce your hand wraps include:
- wearing out of the hand wrap’s elasticity
- velcro not holding or become loose
- the appearance of tears or frays
- when it starts to emanate an unpleasant odor