Let’s be real for a second – nobody wants to be the person at whose gloves stink out the whole gym. We’ll be going over a couple of the steps which you can take to make sure your gloves are always clean and fresh, and avoid any possible hygiene issues (or worse – bad smells).
When you use boxing gloves, you’ll find that intensive sessions can fill your gloves with sweat, especially if you choose not to wear hand wraps when you train (although we suggest you always should). Over time, this sweat can lead to increases in bacteria, causing hygiene issues and often a disgusting smell.
As with most things, it’s much, much easier to take a couple of steps to prevent this from happening, than it is to fix the issue once they’ve reached that stage.
Keep your hand wraps clean
The first rule of keeping boxing gloves clean is to keep the things you’re putting inside them clean.
This is pretty simple advice which you should be doing anyway, but it’s going to be a lot harder to keep your boxing gloves clean if you don’t. If your hand wraps aren’t aired out and washed often enough then they’ll start to grow bacteria and smell. If you then use those foul smelling hand wraps inside your nice clean boxing gloves, then surprise surprise, the gloves are going to start smelling too.
Avoid the gym bag
A closed gym bag is a huge breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria. Seeing as its where all of your sweaty gear is thrown after training, there’s a lot of humid moisture trapped inside. The longer you let the moisture sit in your bag, the worse things will get, so it’s important to open and empty your bag as soon as you can after training.
Think of all the things you no doubt put in your bag after training; Used gloves, hand wraps, maybe even sweaty clothes, used shin guards or head gear depending on your type of training.
When you finish training and head home, you need to be removing all of these sweaty clothes and hand wraps to wash, and if possible moving your gloves and other gear out of the bag into an aired out location. If you don’t have anywhere to put your gloves, then the absolute minimum you should be doing is opening your bag up so that the bag can air a little bit.
If you want to make life a little easier, you can even get gear bags which are specifically designed to air out, such as Hayabusa’s Recast Mesh Gear Bag, Venum’s Thai Camp Sport Bag or Ring To Cage’s Mesh Gear Bag, which let the air flow naturally and much more freely than other gear bags. We haven’t tried any of these bags ourselves, but the feedback from people who have all seems to be positive.
Air them out
Once your gear bag is emptied you’ll probably want to take it a step further and air out your gloves. Even if your boxing gloves have a mesh palm, you’ll notice that it can still get a bit sweaty inside sometimes. As long as the room is well ventilated then most days you should be able to get away with just opening the glove up slightly more than usual, but occasionally you should make an effort to open them up as much as possible so that they dry out properly. If your gloves don’t have a mesh palm or you use them often, you should try and do this more often.
With Velcro gloves, it’s important to undo the Velcro strap completely, and allow the cuffs of the gloves to open up as much as possible. With laced gloves, you’ll want to make sure the laces are as loose as possible. On some gloves you may have enough flexibility in the wrists that you can fold the cuff of the glove over itself, exposing more of the outsides. Be careful forcing this or doing it too often however, as it likely isn’t too good for the materials or padding of the gloves when bent out of shape for long periods of time.
Wipe them down
When training, not many people think to wipe their gloves down – after all, leather is usually good at drying off quickly itself – however it’s probably a good idea to.
Just look at sparring for example. Lets say you spar with 10 people, that’s 10 people who your gloves have touched, all of who are probably a bit sweaty from training hard, plus the gloves have probably touched your own face through blocking. After training all those people’s sweat stays on the boxing gloves and can lead to unhealthy bacteria growth. You won’t visibly notice anything different, but the next time you train you’re spreading that bacteria on to other people and repeating the whole process. And what if someone suffers from a nose bleed or small cut which you may not have even noticed?
After a while, the gloves can get nasty. Wiping down your gloves makes sure they’re clean and hygienic. When you’re done training, a quick wipe with a towel should eliminate most of the problem, and you can periodically give them a quick wipe with a damp cloth (avoid soaking the leather though). To give them a proper clean, you can give them a quick once over with an anti-bacterial disinfectant wipe, however try not to do it too often as the chemicals aren’t good for the leather if over-done.
Use deodorising inserts
As well as airing the gloves out, you can also use absorbent materials to help speed up the process and eliminate moisture. We’ve heard of a number of different variations of this tip, with people using newspaper inside the gloves, or filling a sock with silica gel, cedar chips or even cat litter (yes, seriously) and placing them inside.
Personally while these low-budget solutions may work for a little while, they’re rarely a good long term solution. We’d be more inclined to suggest one of the many products out there aimed specifically at resolving this problem. Many brands sell their own glove deodorisers like the No Stink Sports Glove Deodoriser or the A1 Odoclear Bags. These small inserts pop inside in between uses and just help to keep the gloves fresh.
These tips should help keep your boxing gloves fresh for longer, which means you can carry on using that favourite pair of gloves, while only making a few simple changes. It’s always much easier to prevent the build-up of bacteria than it is to remove it completely.