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How to Clean Boxing Gloves: Get Rid of the Stench

Don’t let your boxing gloves knock you out!

Nothing is worse than grabbing your MMA boxing gloves only to discover that they have a foul odor. They smell like rotten eggs and you now need to put these stinky gloves on your hands. Thankfully there are a few simple solutions when your boxing gloves smell bad that you can follow to remove the stench.

Key Takeaways

  • Wipe inside and outside of gloves with a clean towel after each use.
  • Create a 50:50 vinegar and water solution to clean and disinfect gloves.
  • Use a conditioner or essential lemon oil to maintain the gloves’ exterior.
  • Air-dry gloves overnight in a well-ventilated area to prevent odor buildup.

Why Your Boxing Gloves Smell Bad

Boxing gloves develop an awful stench when they’re not cleaned properly. Every time you wear your gloves you sweat. This causes the gloves to have salt, water, and body oils building up inside.

This is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria breeds and stinks up your gloves especially if you never clean or air out your boxing gloves.

Can You Wash Boxing Gloves?

If you want to know how to wash boxing gloves, you need to know that while you can wash boxing gloves by hand, they should never be washed in a washing machine. Soaking the gloves in water combined with the detergents will speed up the wear and tear on the gloves. Ultimately you will reduce the glove’s lifespan.

The same goes for the dryer. You can’t put your boxing gloves in the dryer either as the heat will also damage the material and foam used in your gloves. This will reduce your glove’s lifespan.

How to Clean Smelly Boxing Gloves

Instead of tossing your smelly boxing gloves into the washing machine, wipe your gloves both outside and inside, with a clean towel, when you finish your boxing session.

Then you should use one of the following methods for cleaning your boxing gloves on the inside and the outside. This will allow you to get rid of the odor or prevent it from occurring in the first place.

With Baking Soda

Baking soda is excellent for removing foul odors. All you need to do is sprinkle some baking soda inside your gloves and let the baking soda remain there for several hours.

Then remove the baking soda by either banging the gloves and letting the baking soda fall out of the gloves or using a slender vacuum stick nozzle to vacuum it up.

With Disinfectant Spray

You can use a disinfectant spray to help remove the current set of bacteria from your boxing gloves. Spray the gloves inside and out with the disinfectant and allow the gloves to air out as they dry. You will quickly have sweet-smelling gloves to wear.

This is a short-term solution as it kills the bacteria currently in your boxing gloves but won’t prevent bacteria from growing in your gloves in the future.

With Saltwater

Be cautious using this method with gloves as it may damage your gloves. This is especially true if your gloves are cracked or made from non-salt water reacting material. Please do your research before soaking your gloves in saltwater.

Make a saline solution in a container large enough to place your gloves. You will use a ratio of 2 tablespoons of salt to 1 gallon of warm water. Add your gloves to the solution and allow them to soak overnight.

Hang your gloves to air-dry in a well-ventilated area. Wait until the gloves are completely dry before using them again. If you have any scratches or cuts on your hands, the salt may irritate your injuries.

With Oil

Essential oils are antibacterial and antifungal. They will also improve the smell of your boxing gloves. A few recommended essential oils you can use are lemongrass, orange, eucalyptus, and peppermint.

Make a solution by adding 10 drops of the oil of your choice to one cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray the inside of each glove with 1 or 2 squirts of the solution.

By Stuffing

Many boxers like to stuff their gloves in order to dry the gloves out and to remove the stench. You can stuff the gloves with newspaper or paper towels. You can also use glove dogs which are small cotton bags filled with cedar.

An alternative is to stuff clean cotton socks with cedar chips or shaved pine, like the type used for smoking or animal bedding. The chips will absorb moisture and bacteria making your gloves smell better.

By Freezing

We don’t recommend you clean your boxing gloves by freezing them. Moisture in your gloves will freeze into ice crystals which will damage the gloves. Freezing also doesn’t remove the bacteria as the bacteria will simply hibernate until the gloves are warmed up again.

However, if you still choose to freeze your boxing gloves, place them in a plastic bag and put the gloves in the freezer overnight. Freeze them for two days if they smell extremely stinky. In the morning, remove the gloves and place them in a well-ventilated area so the gloves get the chance to thoroughly dry.

How to Deodorize Boxing Gloves

Cleaning and sanitizing your boxing gloves are the best ways to deodorize your gloves. The bad smells will be removed, the bacteria killed, and the odors will not return easily.

  • Time: 15 minutes + time to dry overnight
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Tea tree essential oil (optional)
  • Lemon essential oil or conditioner like Leather Honey
  • 3 towels
  • 1 lint-free cloth

1. Wipe Your Gloves

Wipe the inside and outside of your smelly gloves with a clean towel to remove as much of the sweat and oils as you can. One way to reach as far into your glove as possible is to wrap the towel around your hand. Then move your hand around inside the glove.

Make sure you wipe off both gloves.

2. Make a DIY Vinegar Cleaner

Make a 50:50 vinegar solution using white vinegar or apple cider vinegar mixed with water. Put the solution into a spray bottle. Consider adding 5-10 drops of tea tree essential oil to the solution.

It will increase the antifungal and antibacterial strength of your solution.

3. Spray Your Gloves

Spray the inside of your gloves several times with the solution. Let it sit inside your gloves.

Now spray the outside of your gloves. You want to spray the gloves just enough to give them a mist but not to soak your gloves.

Wipe the outside of your gloves clean with a clean towel.

4. Condition Your Gloves

Since most boxing gloves are made from leather, you will need to condition your gloves. Put some conditioner or lemon oil on the outside of your gloves. Use a clean, lint-free cloth to work the conditioner or oil into your gloves using circular motions.

Use a clean towel to wipe any excess oil or conditioner off the gloves when you finish.

Allow your gloves to air dry in a well-ventilated area without removing the vinegar solution inside the gloves. If the gloves still have an odor, repeat the process a second time.

How to Clean Boxing Wraps

Wearing boxing wraps underneath your boxing gloves will go a long way in keeping your gloves from smelling. However, the wraps will need to be cleaned otherwise they’ll simply spread the moisture, bacteria, and stench to your gloves anyway.

Before you wash your boxing wraps, read the care label to find out if they are able to be machine washed or need to be hand washed. Handwashing is always the preferred method as it’s gentler and will not prematurely age your wraps.

  • Time: Afternoon
  • Difficulty: Easy

What You’ll Need

1. Wash the Boxing Wraps

There are two ways to wash your boxing wraps. The first and most recommended is to hand wash the wraps. However, machine washing them is more convenient.

Hand Wash

Fill a basin with warm water and a small amount of detergent. Dip the wraps into the water a couple of times before allowing the wraps to soak for several hours. Then remove the wraps, but do not wring or squeeze them dry.

Machine Wash

If your boxing wraps are able to be washed in the washing machine, you can toss them in with a load of clothing.

First, you will need to place the boxing wraps in a laundry bag. This will keep your boxing wraps from twisting together or the velcro from sticking to your other laundry.

Then make sure you are using cool water and a gentle cycle to clean your boxing wraps. Hot water and a regular cycle may damage the wraps especially if they have elastic in them.

2. Dry the Wraps

Dry your boxing wraps by laying them on a rack, preferably in the sun. Do not place the wraps in the dryer, leave them on a radiator, or on a direct heat source. You’ll also need to make sure the wraps are not left in direct sunlight either. Heat and sunlight will damage the wraps.

Also, unless you know that your wraps are made from 100% cotton, do not iron your wraps either.

3. Roll Your Wraps

When your wraps are completely dry, you can roll them. Traditionally you roll them from the inside out, starting with the thumb loop. However, you can also roll them in the opposite direction so that they’re ready when you go to wrap your hands for your next boxing session.

How Do You Keep Boxing Gloves From Smelling?

There are a few things you can do on a regular basis that will help keep boxing gloves from smelling.

  • Do not store your boxing gloves in a gym bag especially immediately after being used. The moisture combined with the lack of airflow is a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Clean your gloves after every use to kill the bacteria and help your gloves dry out.
  • Store your gloves in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wash your hands before boxing. This will reduce the amount of bacteria introduced to the inside of your gloves.
  • Use hand wraps. The hand wraps will absorb most of the moisture helping your gloves to remain dry.
  • Do not store used hand wraps inside your gloves. This will only aggravate the moisture and mold problem.
  • Stuff your gloves with newspaper or glove dogs which are cotton bags filled with cedar chips. They will absorb the odors and moisture inside your gloves.

How to Dry Boxing Gloves

Pair of yellow boxing gloves hanging on a wall

Drying your boxing gloves properly is the best way to avoid having them develop a foul odor. There are three common methods used to dry boxing gloves.

One way to dry your boxing gloves is to allow them to air dry in a well-ventilated area. However, this method only works if you have time to wait for your boxing gloves to dry before your next workout or session.

Another way to dry boxing gloves is to stuff them with newspapers. The newspapers will absorb the moisture in the gloves allowing them to dry faster. This works very well when combined with the air-drying method.

A third way to dry your boxing gloves is to use a hairdryer on low heat. As you blow the air into your gloves, you’ll need to take regular breaks so the gloves stay cool and don’t become too hot. The heat can damage the leather and foam.

How Often Should You Clean Boxing Gloves?

Clean your gloves after every session. The moisture, sweat, salt, and body oils that collect inside the gloves will break down the leather and the foam.


When Should You Replace Your Boxing Gloves?

You should change your boxing gloves after either 72 sparring rounds or 120 rounds on the bag. You’ll notice that the padding is smashed and you can feel the impact on your knuckles. You should feel 1.5- 2.0 inches of padding in your gloves.

Also, the gloves should be replaced when the leather or material they’re made from is cracking.

Can You Use Disinfecting Wipes on Boxing Gloves?

Yes, you can use any type of disinfecting wipes on boxing gloves to remove the bacteria. However, the wipes will not remove all of the sweat inside your gloves but will get rid of the bacteria.

Can You Use Febreze on Boxing Gloves?

No, it’s not recommended that you use Febreze on your boxing gloves as it will only mask the odor in your gloves rather than actually removing it. Febreze can make your gloves stiff and uncomfortable. It may also damage the leather.

How Do You Maintain Leather Boxing Gloves?

The best way to maintain leather boxing gloves is to wash them after use with 50/50 water and vinegar, store them in a well-ventilated area, use hand wraps when putting them on, and always wash your hands before use.

How Do I Keep My Boxing Gloves From Cracking?

The best way to keep your boxing gloves from cracking is to wipe sweat with a damp cloth, stuff old newspaper inside to absorb moisture, keep the gloves away from heat, and store them in a well-ventilated area.

Can I Use Alcohol to Clean My Boxing Gloves?

You can use alcohol to clean your boxing gloves. Using rubbing alcohol and water is a great way to remove sweat and odors that could perish the leather and foam linings inside.

Cleaning Boxing Gloves

Learning how to clean boxing gloves is easy. You’ll just need to make sure you clean them after each session. Start by using a towel to wipe the inside and outside of your boxing gloves. Then air-dry your gloves in a well-ventilated area.

If you do this, then your boxing gloves will never develop the stench of rotten eggs.

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About the Author

Sara Dennis

Sara Dennis is a coffee-loving freelance writer, homeschool blogger, and mom of six kids. In her free time, Sara loves reading books and researching more efficient and effective ways to keep a clean house, homeschool her children, and blog better while making a home for her large family.