Care of boxing gloves is an aspect of training that is commmonly under-prioritised. It doesn’t have to be. Regular TLC will not only lengthen glove life, they’ll smell better and you’ll be less likely to develop skin irritations and other hygiene issues from bacterial growth within uncleaned insides. If these three reasons are insufficient to illicit change then simple logic may work — we all like to shower and refresh after a training session, so why not pay the same level of hygiene attention to our boxing gloves?
There are some simple things that you can do to increase the longevity of your boxing gloves and help prevent them from smelling like a damp and musty old pair of slippers.
Wash Your Hands
Hands carry dirt, bacteria and other contaminants. Washing and/or sanitising your hands is a simple way to reduce the concentration of bacteria that thrives in the moist and dark recesses of your boxing gloves.
Wrap Hands and Wrists
Wrapping your hands serves two functions — one your wrists will be supported to better survive the impact of punching. And two, the wraps act like a sanitary sponge, helping to absorb some of the perspiration from your hands. Consequently, the wraps should be washed after every use.
NB. Mesh bags will prevent your wraps from knotting and strangling your clothes during a machine wash.
Hand wraps will not absorb all of the moisture from your sweaty hands, so your gloves will still need attention. Firstly, use a semi-damp cloth and wipe away surface perspiration from the outside of your gloves right after training. Surface sweat can stain and crack gloves. Then using an absorbent microfibre cloth or similar, reach deep inside the fingers and thumb sockets and thoroughly wipe the insides dry. Additional ‘airing out’ in the sun for about 20 minutes will help to dry the insides. Be mindful that prolonged direct UV light exposure can over dry and crack your gloves externally. Don’t overdo the sun.
NB. Anti-bacterial wipes are perfect for both external and internal wiping of gloves.
Disinfectants and Deodorisers
If your gloves have been neglected and are emitting a foul odour, options include essential oils, supermarket disinfectants such as Glen 20 or specifically designed athletic equipment sprays. All will help to kill the odour-generating bacteria.
Gloves Have to Breathe
Leaving your just-used boxing gloves in your sports bag overnight is perfect for obnoxious odour generation. Don’t be neglectful. An ideal breeding ground for germs and bacteria is dampness in your gloves in a dark and unventilated bag. Remove the damp gloves and let them breathe — preferably in a well-ventilated place or near a fan.
Washing Machine and Dryer
Washing machines and dryers are both damaging to your gloves. Immersing in water can ‘overwet’ and overload your gloves with moisture and the excessive heat of dryers can cause both leather and synthetic gloves to crack. Avoid both.
Fit for Purpose
Boxing gloves are for boxing — not for activities such as push-ups. Be smart. Don’t subject your gloves to unnecessary stresses.
There comes a time when you have to move on and say goodbye to your boxing gloves. Nothing lasts forever. The stench becomes excessive or padding ain’t as firm as it used to be. Upgrade.
Train hard. Train hygienically.
Yours in Boxing & Muay Thai,