Cracks in leather are the beginning of the end, so when it comes to those precious leather boxing gloves, prevention is far better than cure. You’ve spent some money on them, so following these tips to care for them will be worth your while.
Handwraps: If you’re not wearing them, you should be; and they should always be fresh and dry when you put them on. They soak up some of the moisture inside so there’s less to get rid of in the first place. The wraps can be washed by hand or machine but letting them air dry will make it easier to keep them unwrinkled; Mexican-style wraps shouldn’t go in the dryer because they’ll clump together.
For pity’s sake, don’t wear wraps more than once without washing them and don’t ball them up inside the glove after you’ve used them.
After every use, open the gloves up. Wipe them out with something absorbent. Fill a cotton sock with some cedar chips and insert it as far as it will go (don’t stuff it – you don’t want to stretch out the leather). Let them sit a few hours, remove the sock, and let the gloves continue to air out while opened, preferably in the sun or at least near a window if the climate isn’t too damp.
Remember that once the gloves have developed a smell, it’s hard to get rid of. Don’t use products like Febreze, as this will harden the leather, but you can try tricks like sealing them in a plastic bag and putting them in the freezer overnight.
Wipe down the exterior with a rag after every training. Sweat and bacteria from you, your sparring partners, and the heavy bag will build up on the outside as well. Foreign matter like dirt will build up and pull moisture from the leather.
Every week or so, wipe them down with either a lightly damp rag (not soaking wet) or a cleaner such as Lexol or Obenauf. Be sure to wipe it off completely. Next, apply a conditioner or saddle soap. Vaseline is not an ideal product for this because, while it will keep the leather soft, it doesn’t have the right conditioners to keep it pliable over time.
Be aware that when you search for information about glove care, a lot of what you find is related to synthetic gear.
Do not soak the gloves. In anything. Leather gloves cannot just be washed in soap and water.
Avoid direct sunlight. Some sites will tell you to dry the interior in direct sunlight. That might work for some brands, but Cleto Reyes recommends against it because it will harden and crack the leather over time.
Don’t blow dry them unless you use the cool setting. Direct heat will also harden and break down the leather faster. Better to absorb as much moisture as possible and follow the directions above to get them dry after every use.