Cleaning Your Leather Horse Riding Gloves the Right Way

Removing dirt, debris, and that stinky sweat smell from your leather riding gloves is easy with our guide.

Published March 11, 2023
Aesthetic close up photo of equestrian wearing in total black clothes, red tie and leather gloves.

Anyone who rides with leather gloves on knows the smell that can build up over time. It's funky, it's sweaty, and it isn't fun to clean. Luckily, you can get that stink out with some careful cleaning. Make sure to keep up on maintenance, and your leather riding gloves will last a long time. To clean the gloves appropriately, you will need warm water, a mild soap, leather cleaner, and leather conditioner.

Essential Items

The trick to cleaning leather riding gloves is to be as gentle as possible. You don't want to damage the leather or cause the gloves to shrink. You will need:

  • Lukewarm - not hot - water
  • Mild soap - preferably a soap made for leather products
  • Two Soft cloths - One damp, the other dry. Microfiber works well
  • Leather conditioner - Pick your favorite brand
  • Soft-bristled tooth brush - Use a new brush, for sanitary reasons

The Cleaning Process

The main culprit causing leather glove stinkiness is sweat from your hands. This is what you want to remove. Cleaning your horse riding gloves will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Go slow, and try not to work the gloves too vigorously.

  • Step 1: Fill the basin with lukewarm water and add a few drops of mild soap or leather cleaner.
  • Step 2: Add a few drops of your mild soap or leather cleaner and mix.
  • Step 3: Submerge the gloves in the water and let them soak for 5 to 10 minutes. The gentle heat from the water will loosen up any dirt or grime.
  • Step 4: Remove the gloves from the water and, using a damp cloth, carefully clean the gloves.
  • Step 5: Very carefully, gently brush the insides of the fingers and thumb of the gloves with the tooth brush, around the joints and seams.
  • Step 6: Do not rub too hard with the cloth or tooth brush. This could cause damage to the material or stitching. Just gently rub over each section of material until it looks clean again.
  • Step 7: Empty the basin, refill with lukewarm water, and rinse the gloves. Repeat the rinsing process until all soap or cleaner is removed.
Need to Know

Hand washing leather riding gloves is the preferred method for cleaning. Trying to machine wash your leather gloves could cause damage.

Before You Dry, Try Them On

Don't let your gloves dry just yet. Instead, put your still-wet leather riding gloves on. This does two things. It partially refits your gloves, helping ensure they mould back into the correct shape. It also helps remove all the excess water still in and on the gloves. After you have the gloves on, gently squeeze your hand to help force extra water out of the gloves. Next, remove your gloves, wrap them in a dry cloth, and gently squeeze them to remove more water until they are mostly dry.

Drying Your Gloves

Wet leather gloves can be dried in three ways: letting them air dry naturally, using a hairdryer, or placing them in front of a fan. Letting your leather riding gloves air dry naturally is probably the easiest way to dry them, but it takes quite some time.

If you're looking for faster solutions, using a hairdryer set on low heat and power is the best way to go about it. You can also place your wet leather gloves in front of a fan, which will help speed up the process, but may not completely dry out all areas of your glove.

If you do have time, air-drying is recommended to maintain the life of the gloves. This will allow them to dry naturally and reduce the risk of damage. That being said, you should never place the gloves in areas where they are in direct sunlight while air-drying, as this could lead to cracking and splitting.

Conditioning Your Leather Gloves

When your leather riding gloves are completely dry, apply conditioner to both sides of each glove by rubbing it in with your hands until it disappears into the leather. Do not be afraid to use more than one coat of conditioner. You want enough to penetrate deep into the leather fibers without making them slippery or sticky-feeling when you wear them again next time! Let the conditioner dry completely before wearing them again.

Even More Tips for Cleaning Leather Horse-Riding Gloves

Keep the following tips in mind when cleaning these types of gloves:

  • Leather soap is best for cleaning leather gloves, not saddle soap. Saddle soap is made for saddles, not gloves!
  • You should never use water alone to clean your gloves because it will damage the leather and make it crack.
  • Check to make sure the mild soap you're using doesn't contain artificial colors or perfumes.
  • Do not wring out your leather riding gloves when they are wet, as this may lead to the tearing of the material because of its elasticity. That's why it's important to remove the moisture using a dry cloth.

Protecting Your Gloves

Leather is a natural material that needs to be cared for and cleaned regularly, as it can become damaged from exposure to the elements or wear and tear over time. Regularly cleaning your gloves will help you maintain the quality of the leather, which will ensure that they last longer than if you were to leave them dirty or untreated. Cleaning your gloves regularly will also prevent damage from occurring due to dirt building up on exposed areas such as seams and stitching. This could lead to fraying or other issues down the line if you don't attend to it early.

Cleaning Your Leather Horse Riding Gloves the Right Way