Tips for cleaning your bike gloves at seasons end

by Sommer Adams, a HavefunBiking contributor

With cooler weather approaching, it’s time to store away your summer gear. Especially your bike gloves, if you plan to reuse them next year. Even if they look clean, they are often used for wiping the sweat from the braw, and worse, as a tissue, and shouldn’t be ignored. That makes them disgusting bacteria collectors if not cleaned regularly or before storing. Here are the best ways to clean them, even if they are not machine washable.

A gentle washing with a little bacterial soap and /or white vinegar may clean and sanitize them.

Gentle washing with a little bacterial soap and/or white vinegar may clean and sanitize them

Preparing bike gloves for storage

Thankfully, like shorts, jerseys, and other articles for bicycling, most bike gloves are made from materials that can be machine-washed. Many gloves can easily be machine cleaned by using a little care and hanging them up to air dry. So, before packing away, your summer bike gloves, follow these steps for healthy and extended use – for both cloth and leather.

Supplies you may already have on hand for cleaning your cycling gloves:

  • Antibacterial hand soap
  • Detergent
  • Leather conditioner
  • White vinegar

Cloth Gloves (handwashing)

Step 1 – Close the Velcro or glove fasteners.

Step 2 – Wash the bicycle gloves using cool water and mild liquid soap in a sink. If the gloves are dirty/smelly, add 1/8 cup white vinegar to your wash water.

Step 3 – Rinse the gloves well and inspect them for soap suds. Rinse again if necessary.

Step 4 – Lay the gloves flat or hang them up to dry. Even better if you can hang the gloves out in the sun. The sun is a “natural sanitizer” and works great to disinfect your clothes. Plus, if you dry your gloves under the sun, they will smell fresher.

Cloth Gloves (machine wash)

Step 1 – Close the Velcro, snap, or button that is on your gloves.

Step 2 – Put the gloves in your washing machine, set them on cold water, and add laundry detergent. Do not use bleach. You may wash other items with the gloves. If your gloves are particularly smelly, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener slot of your washing machine.

Step 3 – Rinse the bike gloves by hand after the wash if any soap suds remain.

Step 4 – Then lay the gloves flat or hang them to dry, or you can hang them out in the sun to dry. The sun’s ultraviolet rays will help kill bacteria on your workout clothes. But they need to be completely dry in the sun to be totally disinfected.

Leather Gloves (handwash only)

Step 1 – Put on the bicycle gloves and run some cool water over your hands, applying a very mild soap, such as Castile or leather soap, into the dirtiest parts of the glove.

Step 2 – Rinse the gloves well, spending twice as long on the rinsing as you did washing to ensure all the soap is gone. Do not wring moisture in the gloves. Squeeze gently to remove the water.

Step 3 – Remove the gloves from your hand and place them between layers of a bath towel. Then press to remove excess water.

Step 4 – Put the gloves back on and flex your fingers a few times to mold the gloves back into shape. Then, remove and lay the gloves flat to dry without pressing them again.

Step 5 – If desired, massage your cycling gloves with a pea size amount of leather conditioner when almost dry – use less conditioner if only part of the glove is leather.

Other Helpful Tips

  • In between washing your gloves in the steps above, if they become smelly and damp while you are riding. While wearing the gloves, lightly spritz and rub vinegar into the glove and let them dry as you ride.
  • Leather and cloth gloves may be stiff once dry, but they will soften with little use.
  • Wash leather gloves as infrequently as possible. If you are a dedicated long-distance rider, they may not last more than one season, regardless of how often you clean them.