Boxing gloves are an essential piece of martial arts gear for anyone who participates in martial arts or combat sports like boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and even some MMA training. Without boxing gloves, we can’t train or compete at all. Without a good pair in good condition, we’re probably not going to be able to train or compete at our best.
Taking care of your martial arts gear is also an important part of taking care of yourself as a martial artist. In addition to assisting your performance, a well maintained pair of boxing gloves can also contribute to your wellbeing as a fighter. When you properly clean and maintain your gloves, you won’t just fight better, you will also stay healthier — and smell better while doing so.
Here are six steps that you can take to keep you and your boxing gloves in the best shape possible for as long as possible.
1. Wear handwraps
Handwraps protect the small bones and connective tissue in your hands and wrists from the impact of your strikes. But they also protect the inside of your gloves from you. Wearing a pair of handwraps under your boxing gloves helps to soak up the excess sweat that can build up during training, which prevents the lining of your gloves from becoming too soggy. This will also make the next step a little easier.
2. Unpack and dry
Remove your boxing gloves from your gear bag and allow them dry in an a temperate and open space away from any direct heat sources ASAP. Giving your gloves some breathing room will cut down on the bacterial buildup that can happen in a damp and stuffy environment like a gym bag. Letting them air dry away from heat like radiators and dryers will prevent leather gloves from drying out and cracking.
If air drying alone isn’t enough for the inside of your boxing gloves, you can also stuff them with odor absorbers, small bags of cedar chips or baking soda, or even crumpled up balls of newspaper. This will soak up excess sweat, keeping the lining dryer and fresher.
3. Spot check
Before you clean your boxing gloves, it’s a good idea to give them a thorough look over. Take note of any spots or stains that might need a little extra attention during the cleaning process, and any fraying or tearing that you’ll need to address afterward. Catching small damage and taking care of it as early as possible can significantly increase the lifespan of your boxing gloves.
There are a number of different approaches for cleaning boxing gloves. Which one you choose will depend on your personal choices, how much time you have, what cleaning supplies you have on hand, and your gloves. How you clean you gloves is up to you, as long as you make sure that you always clean them carefully and thoroughly.
In a pinch, you can wipe down the inside and outside of your gloves with bacterial wipes and leave to dry. For a more thorough antibacterial approach, you can place your gloves in a freezer bag and keep them in the freezer for at least 24 hours. This will take care of any bacteria and smell building up without damaging the gloves. Just make sure your boxing gloves are 100% dry before you try this method!
It is also possible to wash your boxing gloves without damaging them, as long as you use a gentle cleaning solution and don’t get carried away with scrubbing. Mix a small amount of dish soap in a bucket of water. Then place the gloves in the bucket and gently swirl them around. Once they’re thoroughly washed, remove the boxing gloves from the mixture, shake or gently squeeze off any excess water, and air dry.
And don’t forget to wash those handwraps while you’re at it. Handwraps can either be machine washed in cold water (placing them in a garment bag will prevent tangling in the wash and prolong their life) or hand washed in the sink with dish soap or mild detergent.
For more information on proper gear care, check out our blog post “How To Clean and Care for Your Martial Arts Gear.”
If you noticed any fraying or tearing during your spot check, now is the time to take care of it. If you know how to sew, you can probably tackle fraying or small stitching issues yourself, or hand them over to a friend or family member who does. For bigger concerns, it’s a good idea to invest in a professional’s care. If you can’t find a sports repair shop near you, try a shoe repair store. Most will have extensive experience with leather goods of all kinds, including boxing gloves, and they will take great care of your gear.
Once your boxing gloves are cleaned, dried, and fixed, they’re ready to be stored in a safe place, or packed back into the gear bag for your next training session. For added odor busting, try keeping a pair of dryer sheets in your gloves between classes. This won’t combat any bacterial buildup, but it does smell nice!