September 5, 2022

How to Clean & Deodorize Boxing Gloves

Boxing is one such sport that helps not only to learn self-defense but also to maintain fitness. But like most other sports, this sport, too, needs the right equipment, i.e., boxing gloves. You also need to know how to maintain, clean & deodorize your boxing gloves.

Boxing gloves are the must-have gear for any boxing enthusiast, as it protects the hands and eliminates the chance of any kind of superficial injuries during your practice sessions, as well as actual fights. But, boxing gloves are also prone to bad odors and rapid discoloration. So, you definitely need to know how to clean your gloves and keep them odor-free. 

After a few training sessions, the boxing gloves will start stinking if you don’t maintain them properly. And, it happens due to the accumulation of sweat and bacteria. You definitely need to keep them clean to reduce the chance of getting any kind of skin irritation and skin infections. Other than your own health reason, you should keep the boxing gloves clean to increase their life. 

So, here’s a step-by-step guideline to keeping your boxing gloves clean and odor-free.

Preventive measures you should take

It is necessary to take preventive measures even before your boxing gloves get dirty or stinky. That will not only minimize the cleaning procedure but will also help you to keep those in good shape. You first need to understand how the odor actually forms. 

When you put your gloves on, the bacteria on your hands get transferred to the inside portion of your gloves easily. Your sweat, and the humid weather inside the gloves, cumulatively make the ideal condition for the bacteria to grow and populate rapidly. So, you first need to keep those gloves out of your training or gym bag to provide enough air circulation. Proper air circulation will decrease bacterial growth altogether.

If you have to carry your boxing gloves in your kitbag, then remove them as soon as you reach your home or training class. However, it is a better idea not to put them on the bag at all. But if you have to, then keep them in the open air for some time to give it proper air circulation.

Another preventive measure that you should take is to keep the boxing or muay thai gloves dry and free from moisture or sweat as much as possible. It would help if you cleaned them with tissue paper or dry towel, both before and after you wear them. Additionally, you should wrap a piece of tissue or a thin hand towel in your hand and then insert it in your gloves. This layer will absorb the sweat. Clean them thoroughly until you think they are free from any sweat or moisture.

clean red boxing gloves close up

Cleaning Boxing, Muay Thai or MMA Gloves

It is actually not difficult to clean your boxing, mma or muay thai gloves, although it sounds a bit tricky. There are several excellent cleaning and sanitization products available in the market these days that are ideal for any kind of boxing gloves. But, you can also make your own cleaning agent at home.

Make the cleaning spray

cleaning spray

The ideal cleaning spray for leather or synthetic gloves can be made from just vinegar and water. Take half a portion of clean water and mix it with half a portion of vinegar. It is also a great idea to take apple cider vinegar as it has some deodorizing property, too. However, you can also take regular white vinegar.

You can also add around 10 drops of organic tea tree oil to your vinegar and water mixture to boost its sanitization properties. Tea tree oil has a great antifungal and antibacterial property that will wipe out any bacterial growth in your boxing gloves. Once you mix the solution, you should then transfer it to a spray bottle.

For the inside, you can use a solution of salt and water. Salt-water will break down and then dissolve any kind of bacterial growth inside your gloves. You can also make a solution with plain water and gentle dish wash soap to clean the inside region of the gloves. 

The cleaning procedure

Here’s how you can go about the cleaning process for your gloves –

Cleaning the outside: Spray the solution of water, vinegar, and tea tree oil on the whole of the outside area of your boxing gloves. But do remember that you don’t need to soak the gloves. You just have to spray a light mist so that it creates a thin layer all over the gloves. Once that’s done, thoroughly wipe the glove with a clean towel or tissue paper. That way, you can remove all the sweats, dirt, or excess cleaning spray.

Cleaning the inside: There are several ways to clean the inside part of your boxing gloves. And, it all depends on the material you have inside the gloves. But in most cases, a saline solution will do the job for you. However, you should read the instruction manual properly to know if it is safe to use salt-water.

You can also sink your gloves in the solution of water and dish wash, and shake it well so that it reaches every corner of your glove. Take those out and then squeeze those well to remove as much water as possible. You should then hang dry them completely before using them.

Condition your leather glove

Most boxing gloves these days are made of either natural or synthetic leather. And, the leather acts in quite a similar way as the skin of a living being. Like our own skin, the leather of your boxing glove can also dry out pretty easily, especially after cleaning with soapy water, as well as in dry weather conditions.

There are several leather conditioners readily available in the market these days.  But if it seems a little too costly for you, then you can also use lemon essential oil as a natural conditioner. Apply a few drops of leather conditioner or essential oil on the outside surface of your boxing glove and rub it in a circular motion with a lint-free cloth. Once done, you should wipe out any excess oil or conditioner with a clean towel or tissue paper.

Dry the gloves

Excessive moisture and humid atmosphere is one of the main reasons for bacterial growth inside the boxing or mma gloves. We have already discussed the ways to dry the gloves after using them. But, it is also necessary to dry them properly once you have cleaned them. After you soak or sanitize your gloves with either the cleaning spray or saline water, you should then ensure that the gloves dry entirely, before you use them again.

Air drying is the best possible method as it doesn’t require any other equipment. Just fold your wrist straps back to open your gloves as wide as possible and leave them in an airy place like a well-ventilated room. You can also keep them in front of a table fan or hang them near a window to dry faster.

You can also stuff old newspapers inside the glove as it will absorb all the excess moisture. Once that is done, take out all the newspaper stuffing and then keep the gloves in an airy place. 

You can also use a blow dryer if you want to dry the gloves. This will be a quick procedure. But, do remember to keep it on the coolest setting. Otherwise, high heat can damage your gloves. Heated air can also take away the softness of the leather and make it hard.

Alternate ways of cleaning

Freeze your gloves: If you don’t want to make your gloves wet with any solvent or even with plain water, then freezing them can be an ideal option. Just put them in an airtight sealed container and keep them in your freezer for around 8-12 hours. After the freezing procedure, you should keep them in a well-ventilated place to air-dry for at least a day or two.

Machine-wash the gloves in a mesh laundry bag: You can obviously clean your boxing gloves in your washing machine with mild soap. But, do look at your instruction manual before putting them on the washing machine. If you find a warning that says, “hand wash only”, then it is a good idea not to throw them in the machine. But, even if you do, use a mesh laundry bag, or the machine can harm the leather or textured surface of your gloves. 

Precautions you should take before the cleaning

  • You should avoid harsh chemical sprays and soaps for cleaning your boxing gloves. It will not only damage your gloves but can also cause an allergic reaction with your skin.
  • It is not a wise idea to use products like Febreze or any other fabric softener to clean your gloves. These agents will only mask the bad odor due to its fragrant properties, but will not clean the gloves or kill the bacteria that are causing the stinky smell. Besides, it can make your gloves a bit stiff.
  • Don’t keep the boxing gloves to dry in direct sunlight. It might be alright to keep a few things in direct sunlight to kill bacteria; but, your boxing gloves are not among them. Leaving them in direct sunlight might kill the bacteria, but it will also destroy the leather of your gloves. Direct sunlight will affect the leathery part of the glove the same way it affects our skin.

Deodorize your Boxing, MMA or Muay Thai Gloves

Keeping your gloves clean and dry should be a big step in preventing odor. However, in case your gloves start to smell, here’s how you can deodorize them –  

Use Dryer Sheets

First, you need to let the gloves air dry for at least 12 hours after cleaning. And then, take a dryer sheet and thoroughly clean the inside of your gloves, not only to take out the residues but also to deodorize them. It is also a great idea to keep a dryer sheet stuffed inside your glove until you use it next time.

Baking soda

As we all know, common baking soda that we all have in our kitchen is universally accepted as an effective deodorizer. It can instantly neutralize the bad odors and completely eliminate the stinky smells from your gloves. After drying your gloves, just sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda inside and leave it for a few hours. You should then properly remove the baking soda by shaking your gloves or by using a narrow vacuum cleaner nozzle.

Cedar chips

Cedar chips are great for smoking food or for making animal bedding. But, it is also an excellent deodorizer that you can use to eliminate the bad smell from your gloves. Just take a pair of clean cotton socks and fill them with cedar chips. Tie the ends of the socks and stuff them inside your gloves. Leave them there for a few hours for the best result. This technique will not just deodorize your gloves but even take out all the excess moisture.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider is another excellent natural deodorizer that we usually have in our house. Just take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in your hand and apply it all over the inside of your gloves. After that, keep them in an airy space so that the vinegar dries easily. Once it is dry, it will completely deodorize your boxing gloves.

Use essential oils

Essential oils have not only great benefits but also beautiful fragrances. Besides, several organic essential oils have antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can be an additional benefit in your gloves cleaning process. Essential oils like orange, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and peppermint can be ideal for your boxing gloves. Just mix around 10 drops of essential oil in a cup of water and transfer that mixture to a spray bottle. Spray only twice on each glove and let it dry.

Use glove dogs

Glove dogs are great for quickly deodorizing your boxing gloves as they are tailored to fit perfectly inside the gloves. It is basically a cotton bag shaped like a boxing glove and is filled with good quality cedar chips. Once you put them inside your gloves, these glove dogs will take out all the excess moisture and eliminate the chances of bacterial growth. It will also deodorize your glove completely within a few hours.


Even if you clean and deodorize your boxing gloves at frequent intervals, you should use a clean pair of hand wraps inside the glove for an added layer of moisture absorption material. It will prevent the sweat on your hand from seeping into the gloves, and will thus help to increase the longevity of your boxing gloves. However, don’t forget to clean and deodorize the gloves at least once a month for the best result.

Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

View all posts by Eugene Hardy →

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