Say bye to smelly gloves

Clean gloves = big smiles

Clean gloves make for a more pleasant training experience, and no stinky hands after class!

Ahhh new gloves (aka non smelly gloves). There’s nothing like slipping on a pair of new gloves. The fresh scent of new leather. The way the soft, protective insides fit snugly around your hands. And the fact your hands don’t smell like sweaty feet after training.

There are a special breed of Thai Boxers out there, who manage to recreate a similar feeling every time they slip on their gloves. Even when their gloves are six months old. Here are some tips on how to join the No Smelly Club.

  • wash your hands before training. Yes, it may sound a little counter-productive (after all, you’re just going to get sweaty right?) but have a think about it. Although you take a shower after training, your gloves don’t. Whatever bacteria existed on your hands pre-training is now living on in your glove – not washed down the shower drain. If you’re running late, just squirt a dose of hand sanitizer (we have some at reception) on your hands before you chuck on your handwraps.
  • speaking of wraps, we hope you’re using them. Not only do they help to cushion your hands, they also prevent abrasions and also soak up sweat – and yes, hands sweat profusely inside that glove. The handwraps will reduce the amount of sweat going into your glove, making it easier to dry out quickly. Besides, have you smelled shoes which have been worn without socks repeatedly? Ewww.
  • dry gloves are the key to no smell. If you can air them out after training by a window, pulling and twisting the velcro and fastening it back so that it dries out faster. Or loop the velcro together and hang it from your washing line (wash out for rain!). If you’re lucky enough to have a sunny day, throw out your gloves and shinguards for a suntan session. The sun has properties to naturally kill bacteria. Which is why in Thailand you’ll see the Thai fighters regularly “sunning” their gear. Just make sure you sun your gloves with the open side facing the sun. This will ensure more sun gets into the glove and lessen the chance of the leather on your glove cracking if you leave it out for too long.
  • another quick-fix a fighter shared with us was to put a hair-dryer on cool setting and then use it to dry out the inside of your glove. This doesn’t work so well when it’s AFTER you’ve left it in your gym bag overnight.
  • we often get asked how often you should wash your wraps. You could apply the “sock” principle to your wraps. If they’ve just been used a little, you can air them out. If they’re sopping, then put them through the wash. And if they are still damp from your sweat – you are just reintroducing a whole new colony of bacteria into your glove.
  • never use wet wraps – even if they are just out of the wash. Wet wraps are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Invest in a few pairs of wraps if you can’t do your washing frequently enough.
  • don’t store your used wraps inside your gloves. We’ve seen people store their soggy wraps inside their gloves – there for them to use the next time they want to infect their hands and gloves again.
  • the surface of your glove just needs a wipe down with some warm soapy water to keep it looking good. That will suffice to get rid of any blood, sweat and tears until next time.
  • don’t share your gloves. It sounds selfish, but who knows where those hands have been, and whether they have any warts looking for a new home. If it’s a matter of life and death (ie, your girlfriend/boyfriend will kill you if you don’t), then at least make sure that they have clean and wart-free hands and are using clean hand-wraps.
  • don’t use communal gloves. This is one of those tricky ones. Our gym gloves are for people who are new to the sport, and therefore haven’t go the budget to invest in their own, or are just giving it a few goes before committing to their own gloves. Unfortunately, the constant use, and the fact they live at the gym means they are stinky.
  • even if you’re on a really tight budget, don’t get a pair of leather gloves for under $50. It may look good, but it will probably be a poorly constructed pair which can cause injury to your hands, and wear out fast. It’s a better idea to sacrifice a bit of comfort and go for non-leather gloves which still provide protection for your hands. You can get a pair of good quality synthetic leather gloves for under $60, which still provide good wrist support and cushioning, but don’t contour to your hands as comfortably (compare synthetic shoes to real leather shoes). Ask us for what brands to avoid, and how to spot a good pair.
  • if your gloves are already stinky, you can try a liberal spray of anti-bacterial spray like Dettol, to coat the inside and then leaving it to completely air out and dry. If they’re too far gone, it may be a lost cause.

There are plenty of other ways we’ve heard of for getting the stink out of your gloves, but these are the ones we’ve tried and tested. (Anyone tried putting their gloves in the freezer?)

Let us know if you’ve found any ones that really work!


11 thoughts on ““Say bye to smelly gloves”

  • Chris

    I also like to use silica packets in my gloves after I spray them with a sanitizer of sorts. This will draw out the moisture and help the gloves to dry faster. I have been doing this for about almost two years with my gloves and they still smell new.

  • Jamie

    Here’s a crazy one that actually works. Stick a lump of coal in each glove. The coal draws out the moisture and the smell from the lining.

    However, you might not have coal easily available. I’m from Scotland and it’s what we use to heat our homes.

  • Nuno

    Like, I let them in the freezer for 3 days ( because I saw it on a website too ) and the smell is gone while the gloves are still really really cold but it comes back again as soon as they’re “dry”

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  • Joe Nyambura

    I totally love the tips you have given that aim to help one keep their gloves from being all smelly. I think they will be really helpful to me because I have been trying for such a long time to sort of reduce the stench that emanates from my gloves whenever I come home after training and it’s been honestly such a hurdle for me. I particularly liked the tip that involved the use of an antiseptic because I feel that’s pretty much easy to do

  • AB

    Using the Freeze/Thaw method will greatly reduce the number of bacteria present and the subsequent smell.

    1. Clean items well, use a disinfecting spray, either store bought or one can easily be made using equal parts white vinegar, 90%+ rubbing alcohol, and water to clean the inside and outside of the gloves, follow spray down with a wipe down using a clean cloth. If the insides stink really badly respray the insides liberally and let sit out and unlaced to air dry. Dirt, grime and sweat will help protect the bacteria (it also protects them from other chemical antimicrobial cleaners and treatments) so its important to clean them well.

    2. Once the gloves are dry, place items in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight.

    2. Remove the following day and bring back to room temperature. Repeat this process several times and the bulk of the bacteria will be killed. The more times you repeat this freeze/thaw cycle the more bacteria you will kill, I would recommend 5-6 and see how it goes.

    Bacteria double roughly every 30 minutes, so keeping the gloves clean and dry, while using preventative maintenance such as a disinfecting spray every now and then will help keep the funk at bay. It only takes a short period of neglect for the bacteria to grow and bounce back as you will never be able to kill and get rid of all the bacteria living in your gloves. Washing your hands well before using the gloves will help with this as is mentioned in the main article. Dirt, oil, dead skin cells, heat and moisture are the enemy as those are the conditions bacteria thrive on, take that away and the bacteria will be held in check.

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