How To Wash, Clean, and Maintain Motorcycle Gloves

How To Wash, Clean, and Maintain Motorcycle Gloves

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Due to the ever-increasing number of different types of motorcycle, riding gloves are also becoming more and more diverse, with a wide range of styles ranging from ventilated for summers, waterproof and insulated for winters, reinforced for tourers, and leather gloves for urban commuters. And with each variant, a different material is used to adapt with the riding environment.

So, in order to retain their characteristics and features for a long duration of time, they must be kept in good condition. In fact, proper maintenance of motorcycle gloves is the key to prolong their appearance and performance over time.

Today, we will discuss some of the ways in which you can easily maintain your gloves on a regular basis, depending on their characteristics and design.

How to clean leather motorcycle gloves

How to clean leather motorcycle gloves

When it comes to cleaning leather gloves, it is important to understand that these gloves cannot be soaked in water. And thus, cleaning needs to be done in two steps (exterior cleaning & interior cleaning). Let’s take a look at them.

Exterior cleaning

  1. In order to clean the exterior layer of leather gloves, you can use a sponge, a microfiber cloth, a lint-free cotton cloth, or a washcloth.
  2. Moisten the surface with lukewarm water (not hot water), but make sure you do not soak them completely since leather is sensitive to water.
  3. As a general rule, do not put any cleansing agent (even water) directly on the leather, but on the cleaning cloth.
  4. Next, rub a neutral soap or, if you prefer, a mild soap, on the cloth and rub it gently over the surface of the glove.
  5. Once done, re-clean the gloves with a fresh damp cloth to remove all the cleaning agent from the surface of the leather.
  6. The gloves should then be left to dry in the open air.

Note: Cleaning should be done with cold or lukewarm water only. Needless to say, the use of softeners, oils or chemical agents is also forbidden as this could change the properties or characteristics (e.g., color) of the gloves.

Interior cleaning

  1. To clean the inner lining of motorcycle gloves, you can rub them with a damp cloth the same way you had cleaned the outer surface. But make sure the cloth used for cleaning is completely wrung out from water (even if the cleaning takes a while).
  2. You can also use specialized leather cleaning products in case you are worried about any kind of deterioration or in case this is your first time.
  3. Now use a paper towel to pat dry your gloves from the inside, you can also keep few paper towels inside your gloves that will thoroughly absorb all the moisture.

Note: Leather gloves generally take 48-72 hours to dry completely, so do make sure you are not placing them under direct heat to accelerate this process. However, there is no harm in keeping them under a fan.

How to wash textile motorcycle gloves

How to wash textile motorcycle gloves

The process of cleaning a textile motorcycle glove is much easier compared to leather ones. All you need to do is rinse off the toughest stains first. But first of all, it is important to remember that cleaning your gloves in the washing machine may not be the best solution. This being said, the right procedure is the one that will not only clean the gloves, but will also enhance their durability and gripping capacity.

Follow these steps to clean your textile gloves thoroughly:

  1. Fill a tub with lukewarm water, but not hot.
  2. Dip the gloves into the tub.
  3. Using your fingers gently rub the gloves, but avoid using your nails. Alternatively, use a mild soap or a liquid detergent and gently clean the surface with a damp cloth.
  4. Replace the water in the tub as and when required.
  5. After completing the wash, leave the gloves to dry in a hanging position (Detailed guide for drying mentioned below).
  6. Wait for at least two days or till the time they are completely dried before using them.

Pro Tip: It should be noted that the washing should be done in cold or lukewarm water, and should never exceed 30°C as the material is synthetic and the heat can damage it. Use a neutral cleaning agent and refrain from using any fabric softeners.

Cleaning the linings of textile gloves

This is the most common concern among motorcyclists since ventilated summer gloves usually get dirty both from the outside as well as inside. And in case your gloves are not ventilated, you might still have the urge to clean them due to constant perspiration that causes the gloves to stink from inside.

In order to clean the inside of your gloves, the best thing to do is use specific products that eliminates unpleasant odor as well as bacteria. In case you do not have one handy, you can use a baby bathing soap (neutral) and a cloth soaked in water to clean them.

However, if the gloves have a waterproof membrane, it is advisable not to turn them inside out, rather, you can clean them by inserting a thin piece of cloth wrapped inside your hand.

How to wash motorcycle gloves with Gore-Tex membrane

How to wash Gore-Tex motorcycle gloves

Textile gloves with Gore-Tex membrane, commonly found in touring gloves, demand different care than gloves that are unlined. So, the first thing to determine is what material your gloves are made of. And once you have checked the fabric of your gloves, you can proceed with cleaning.

Washing textile gloves with Gore-Tex

  1. Remove coarse dirt, sand, or gravel by air-drying your Gore-Tex gloves thoroughly before washing.
  2. Add lukewarm water in a tub and add liquid detergent into it.
  3. Either use a sponge or a microfiber to scrub the dirt away.
  4. Rinse in clean water.
  5. Pat dry using a towel and leave the gloves under a fan overnight.

Leather construction with Gore-Tex membrane, commonly found in winter gloves, should be thoroughly washed only if you feel that their efficiency have been reduced or if the pores have been clogged with dirt. Also make sure that you only use a mild or neutral soap as a cleaning agent and that too in warm or cold water (avoid hot water cleaning).

Washing leather gloves with Gore-Tex

  1. Place your hand in one of the gloves and carefully clean the outside with damp cloth & mild cleaner of your choice.
  2. Once done, wipe away the soap solution with a fresh cloth.
  3. Next, remove the glove and clean the inside of the glove without turning the glove inside out, and without twisting the glove.
  4. Do the same treatment again with glove number two and let them dry overnight.

When the cleaning process is completed, wrap your gloves in a dry towel and gently rub the gloves from wrists towards the fingers. It is also important not to wring the gloves.

Once most of the water has been wiped off, hang or place the gloves upside down with the fingertips facing upwards to let them air dry. This also allows the remaining water to drip out completely.

When the gloves are half dry, put them on and make a fist to bring them back to their original shape.

Finally, when the gloves are completely dry, pull them over and gently work them into shape.

How to clean heated motorcycle gloves

Heated gloves are equipped with thin wires and these wires are separated by a waterproof membrane, which allows them to be used safely in wet conditions. However, none of these gloves are designed to be immersed in water for a thorough wash, as this can cause damage to critical components.

Also, it is not at all recommended to clean your heated gloves in a washing machine, as this will damage the internal heating element. Instead, you can clean the gloves manually using a mild detergent.

Post which, these gloves should be treated with a leather conditioner/waterproofing agent such as Nikwax.

We also recommend that you use a glove liner when using your heated glove for hygienic reasons. This makes cleaning a lot easier. All you need to do is put it (glove liner) in the washing machine when it is dirty, so that your liner as well as the glove stays nice and clean.

How to get rid of odor from motorcycle gloves

How to get rid of odor from motorcycle gloves

As we all know, gloves emanate a bad smell that may resemble the terrible smell of a month-old sock, mainly due to the bacteria that contaminates the leather or textile fabrics used in their construction. The smell is worse if the glove is further insulated with padding, especially common in winter gloves.

Sweat “stench” is caused by foul-smelling enzymes, which, although not contained directly in sweat, can be produced as a result of the bacteria that exist on our skin.

The most ideal way to get rid of the odor from stinky gloves is pre-cleaning them in a solution of water and sodium bicarbonate (Baking Soda: NaHCO3). You can use a damp cloth to clean the inner layer of the gloves (in case of leather) or soak them in this solution for few minutes in case of non-leather gloves. Sodium bicarbonate dissolved in water forms a slightly alkaline solution, just above the neutral value (pH 7). Its bacteriostatic action is not due to its alkalinity but simply because of its salinity. Therefore, the sodium bicarbonate eliminates the bad smell almost completely from our gloves, but does not alter in any way the properties and characteristics of gloves, leaving them perfectly intact and ready to be used.

How to dry your motorcycle gloves after washing

As soon as we have washed our motorcycle gloves, we can proceed to dry them. Leather gloves should be dried at room temperature. It is not advisable to dry the gloves around a heat source which may cause the leather to harden. Neither should they be dried near a fireplace or under the sun, as this can destroy the properties of the gloves.

You can use paper towels to soak excess amount of water or moisture from the gloves, and replace them as and when required. Next, hang them in an upright position by clipping the index finger to a rope. If you are drying them under a ceiling fan, you can reverse the position of your gloves (hang them by their cuffs) so that the air enters directly into the gloves and dries them up quickly.

You can follow the same process for drying textile gloves as well. After drying the gloves with a soft cloth or a paper towel, hang them from the finger tips inside a room.

We strongly recommend placing the gloves in a dry and well-ventilated area, away from sunlight or any other heat source. Also ensure that the gloves are completely dry before storing them back. If gloves are damp when they are stored, they are likely to deteriorate or deform.

Advice: In between the drying process, wear your gloves occasionally. This prevents any deformity and the gloves retain their original shape.

Can you wash the gloves in washing machine

Just like a typical motorcycle wash, you are better off cleaning your motorcycle gloves by hand. Especially when it comes to riding gloves manufactured by Dainese, Alpinestars, Rev’it, and the likes. This is because the spin cycle of the washing machine might damage the fabric, zippers, seams, and even their touch screen capability due to aggressive rotation. As a result, your motorcycle gloves will be compromised, which can have a negative effect on their longevity and performance.

But if you have a multi-function washing machine, you can wash your dirt bike gloves or non-leather motorcycle gloves on a gentle cycle, assuming that the label (wash & care instructions) on your gloves allows you to do so. You can also put the gloves in a laundry bag or a pillow cover to wash them more gently. However, for gloves that are lined, padded, insulated, or suede; refrain from using washing machine completely.

Which product should be used for cleaning

While selecting the cleaning agent, you should make sure that the detergent does not contain aggressive solvents and bleaches, as this can damage your fabric. It is better to use a mild soap or shampoo, preferably a neutral one (a neutral soap will have a pH value of 7, if this value is greater than 7 then the cleaning agent is alkaline, likewise a pH value lower than 7 will be acidic).

Another very important thing to keep in mind is that you should not use fabric softener, as this will clog up the spaces between the fibers. Many motorcycle gloves have elastic fibers inside, which can become loose, and thus no longer fit properly.

How to waterproof your gloves

Waterproofing your gloves ensures the best possible protection against bad weather. As the name implies, the process is intended to make the gloves waterproof and to prevent it from drenching in the rain. It is possible that after extensive use and several washes, the waterproofing properties of your gloves may have weakened. And if the water no longer rolls off the surface as usual after washing, the waterproofing capabilities needs to be restored.

In order to waterproof non-leather Gore-Tex gloves, use a water-based waterproofing spray and diffuse evenly on all the areas, even in hard-to-reach areas, such as between your fingers.

After five to ten minutes of exposure, rub the remains with a cloth. Repeat the process if the treatment does not give desired results.

To waterproof your leather Gore-Tex gloves, you should apply a special leather care product after every cleaning once they are completely dry. Remember that the waterproofing agent should be approved for Gore-Tex products. Also, refrain from using wax or grease to condition the leather.

Suggested reading: How to waterproof leather motorcycle gloves

Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather Gloves
Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather Gloves

Can you dry your gloves in the sun

Direct sunlight or other intense heat sources are not an ideal drying method for your gloves. Sun-dried or heat-soaked gloves tend to become stiff and uncomfortable on the hand. The reason behind this is instant evaporation from the surface of the fabric that causes them to shrink. Besides, extreme heat can diminish their properties which may have a considerably effect on their performance.

Instead, what you should do is air-dry your gloves after washing/cleaning by simply allowing them to hang beneath a fan or in a well-ventilated room. This might take some time, typically 48-72 hours, depending on the material, but all the properties and characteristics of the glove will remain intact.

When to wash your motorcycle gloves

Some obvious signs like bad odor, dirt and oil stains are enough to put you on the alert. Stiff glove that has lost its shine is also a good indication to schedule time for cleaning. Likewise, after every rainy ride or after a long-distance tour, thorough cleaning is a must.

Ideally, it is best to wash or clean your gloves occasionally depending on your riding habits. For example, an enduro or dirt bike rider should clean their gloves after every adventure they undertake. In case of daily commute, where riding is strictly in urban environment, you should clean your gloves once in a month. Similarly, track gloves or racing gloves, needs to be cleaned once in a month or depending on the level of perspiration, once in every two months. On the other hand, leather gloves need to be polished and air-cleaned once in a week and the same applies to textile gloves with leather inserts.

Advice: Maintenance of your motorcycle gloves is in your hands. Do not overlook this essential factor, as it contributes to your safety on the road. In addition, regular cleaning will save you money in the long run.

Daily maintenance of motorcycle gloves

Hygiene is an absolute necessity no matter where you ride. And like all mechanical parts and components of your motorcycle, your riding gloves must be regularly maintained as well in order to ensure their longevity and durability. So, after every ride, be sure to clean your motorcycle gloves with a rag to remove any dust.

And if you experienced sweating while riding on a hot or humid day, try sprinkling a little baking soda and talcum powder inside your gloves, and place them outside in fresh air to dry out.

Furthermore, there are specialized sprays with sanitizing and odor-fighting properties for quick cleaning of your motorcycle gloves.

Remember to store your gloves carefully in the room reserved for your motorcycle clothing, whilst ensuring that they remain in their original shape and are not folded.

Gloves lying flat are less likely to get bent, especially leather ones. Also, avoid keeping your gloves inside your helmet; they should be stored in a breathable room, away from sun and moisture.

Conditioning your leather gloves

Leather is fetched from animals and thus needs to be treated frequently. However, leather care products can only be used on clean and dry suede. In case you were riding in the rain before, allow the leather to dry before applying anything on it.

Further, it is important to avoid any product that can dry out your leather. Shoe shiners, for example, are one of them. Instead, you can use baby lotion and cleansing milk. As an added plus, they are easily accessible and less expensive. Alternatively, you can also find cheap leather care products such as creams and conditioners in the market. Regardless of which one you choose; you should apply it with either a piece of cotton or a soft cloth.

Once done, allow your gloves to completely dry before they are stored/used again.

Also Read: How To Stretch Leather Motorcycle Gloves

Maintenance tips

  1. To begin with, when you are about to wear your gloves before a ride, make it a habit to clean your hands with a sanitizer or wet wipes. This ensures that your hands are free from bacteria, dirt, grime, and other contaminants that can enter the gloves.
  2. When you return from a ride, make it a habit of wiping them down with a cloth to remove the dust. And remember to air out your gloves from the inside as well, especially leather ones.
  3. In a hot and humid environment, sprinkle a mixture of talcum powder and baking soda on the inside of the gloves. The former is an absorbent, while the latter acts as a deodorant (some sanitizing and anti-odor mists are also available for this purpose).
  4. Always store your gloves flat, especially leather ones as they tend to deform easily.
  5. A damp closet promotes the growth of mold and fungi, so choose an airy and dry place to store your gloves.

Tips for washing and drying

When it comes to motorcycling, gloves have to endure a lot of punishment. Especially unlined models as they wear out pretty easily around the palms and fingers, being exposed not only to the harsh environment but also to the constant perspiration from the skin.

  • As a cleaning agent, it is preferable to use lukewarm water with mild soap or a dedicated cleaning product. In order to avoid soap deposits, rinse the gloves thoroughly after application. Refrain from using fabric softeners or bleaches.
  • Next, pat dry the rinsed gloves with a dry cloth. Wringing or squeezing is not recommended, no matter what type of material your gloves are made of.
  • Always dry your gloves at room temperature. Keep away from direct heaters, blow dryers, open fires, and sun.
  • The best way to dry your gloves is in upright position. You can either hang them from a rope or insert a drinking glass/cup from beneath that acts like a stand.
  • You can then restore the slightly damp gloves to their original shape by putting them on and clenching your fist.
  • Avoid turning lined gloves inside out, as it can be difficult to get the lining, insulation, and membrane back in place.
  • A glove with a removable liner dries faster when the inner liner is removed.
  • Clogged pores impair the breathability of gloves. However, beware that these should be washed by hand and dried on a clean surface.
  • Washing leather gloves directly under running water is not recommended. In case you do need to clean them, simply wear the gloves and wipe them with a sponge/cloth soaked in soap and lukewarm water solution.
  • Gloves without multiple layers or leather insulation can be machine washed at 30°C or less on a gentle cycle. Also, remember to put them inside a pillow cover, else they might get damaged.
  • Polish the leather gloves regularly and they will better resist moisture and dirt.
  • For gloves lined with breathable membranes like Gore-Tex, avoid using silicone polish as it blocks the pores of the material and reduces the breathability of the glove.
  • Dyed leather can stain other clothing when wet, so you should dry them separately away from any other apparels.

Final words

The art of washing and cleaning your motorcycle gloves is quite simple but demands a good knowledge of cleaning agents that are used and the material that needs to be cleaned (cowhide/goatskin/mesh/textile/Hipora/Gore-Tex).

It is important to observe the pH value of the cleanser as both an acidic or basic solution could stain the surface of the glove. The first thing to do is dampen the sponge / microfiber cloth slightly in a bowl that has been pre-mixed with a small quantity of neutral cleaning agent and lukewarm water.

Also, it is necessary to wring out the sponge well before using it on the gloves: The sponge or cleaning cloth needs to be damp and not wet. The subsequent step is to rinse the sponge well so that all soap residues are removed, then, after wringing it out again, wipe the gloves, which should be worn for a couple of minutes so that they take the shape of the hand and then left to dry naturally, without coming into direct contact with sunlight.

Above all, the use of running water directly on the glove should always be avoided. Likewise, refrain from using any household mixtures involving vinegar or lemon. In addition, specific leather cleaning products should never be mixed with other cleaning agents. And finally, pay close attention to the characteristics of the material and the washing instruction mentioned on the label before you decide to clean them.

Good Luck!