5 Ways to Clean your Gardening Gloves without Ruining Them (and things to Avoid!)

As much as we love to get our hands dirty, we (at the Garden Bench Top) would not survive without gardening gloves. But do you know how to wash gardening gloves without ruining them?

We are going to go out on a limb here and put our hands up. We are gardening gloves addicts. We have quite a few different types of gardening gloves. And whenever we go outside into our garden, we always have a pair within arms reach. All made from different materials and all for different purposes.

How to Wash Gardening Gloves

They are just so handy and have saved us (countless times) from touching something we should not, or preventing a nasty accident.

However, by their very nature, gardening gloves get dirty…REAL DIRTY! So, it is understandable that we receive a lot of requests from our community asking ‘How to Wash Gardening Gloves?’

It isn’t very economical to buy a new pair each time they get a bit of dirt on them, so we’ve come up with some helpful ways to keep your gloves clean and ready for your next gardening adventure.

We’ll also look at how to wash gardening gloves made from different materials, and more importantly, how to avoid ruining your gardening gloves with some MUST AVOID Tips when washing your gloves.

So if you are ready, take your dirty gardening gloves off and let’s get to cleaning!

How to Wash Garden Gloves – Our favorite methods

Before you throw your gardening gloves underwater or into any cleaning agent, there are a few things to consider. Choosing the incorrect cleaning process may end up ruining your gloves, which is something we want to avoid.

dirty leather gloves

Which method of washing my gardening gloves should I use?

Knowing how to wash gardening gloves requires selecting the right cleaning method for your gloves. This will be determined by:

  • the type of material they are made from,
  • the extent that your gloves are soiled (pun intended), and
  • when you are going to need to use them again.


If your gardening gloves are made from a unique material that has special care requirements (like deer skin or leather gloves), then we recommend referring to their care instructions inside the glove.

ALWAYS follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your gloves

We have also dedicated a separate section (below) for specific cleaning techniques for different types of gloves. We recommend checking that out after, first referring to the manufacturers instructions.

Washing Gardening Gloves – Recommended Methods

Below are our tried and tested methods to clean your gardening gloves.

Source: Unsplash

1. Soaking Your Gloves

Placing your dirty gardening gloves into a bowl of warmish water is the gentlest method of cleaning your gloves. The warm water soaks into the glove materials, allowing the dirt to lift away from the gloves.

You can leave them in the water and let it do its thing. Or to speed up the process, you can gently move the gloves around to displace any stubborn bits of dirt. This method works best when your gloves only have small patches of soil, and you want to maintain the integrity of your gloves.

Once clean, we recommend drying your garden gloves naturally on a washing line. Allow plenty of air circulation in and around the glove to prevent mold and bad odors.

Recommended for Gloves Made From:

  • Cotton
  • Woven Fabric materials

2. Wash Your Hands (with your gloves on)

If your gloves have caked-on dirt, we would recommend taking a more proactive approach by washing your gloves with soap under a running tap. Work your gloves by wearing them and completely covering them with soapy suds, as you would if you were soaping up your own hands. You should be able to see most of the dirt begin to fall away.

image courtesy: black soldier fly farming

The next step is to completely wash the soap off under running water, making sure to squeeze out as much soap as possible. Continue to wash your gloves underwater until the water runoff from your gloves is clear.

Like above, line dry your gloves with plenty of air circulation.

Recommended for Gloves Made From:

  • Cotton
  • Woven Fabric materials

3. Dry Maintenance with a Soft Bristled Toothbrush

If you haven’t been working with wet or moist soil, and only have loose dry soil covering your gloves, then a simple toothbrush will do the trick. We recommend using a soft bristled toothbrush to brush off all the dirt and soil. A dry toothbrush helps to clean targeted areas.

Source: Unsplash

We find this technique more effective than simply brushing the dirt patches with your other gloved hand, which tends to spread the dirt around. The soft bristles are ideal for cleaning dry soil off gloves that have delicate material, like leather, suede or deerskin.

For dirty leather gloves, you can take it one step further. Try using a bar of saddle soap to clean extra stubborn dirt patches. Saddle soap is a specially made soap, specific for cleaning leather goods. It also has the added benefit of protecting them from damage. Like applying other leather goods, you simply need to massage the soap into your glove using circular motions.

Gently wipe the soap off and air dry on a bench.

Recommended for Gloves Made From:

  • Leather
  • Suede
  • Deer Skin

4. Spray Down with the Hose

Some gardening gloves are built for endurance, and can take rougher treatment than others. We found gloves that are made from thick waterproof materials, like rubber or latex gloves, can be cleaned with a garden hose. It is the easiest and most effective way to clean rubber gloves.

If you have a high pressure hose, then your job is made even easier. The pressure helps to dislodge any stubborn debris and essentially blasts it off. If you don’t have a high pressure hose, you are not missing out. Simply rub your gloves together, while you are wearing them, to massage the soil off.

We recommend only using cold water when employing this method. Warm to hot water may warp or weaken the glove integrity under such high pressure.

Technically, you could pack your gloves straight away, but we prefer to hang them up out of the sun to air dry. This prevents any mold from growing and reduces the likelihood of bad odors from occurring. .

Recommended for Gloves Made From:

  • rubber
  • latex
  • nitrile

5. Machine Wash your Gloves

This is probably the easiest (and most tempting) way to clean garden gloves. What is easier, after a hard day’s gardening, than throwing your gloves into a machine and letting it do all the work?

And we agree, but only with some types of garden gloves. This method is only suitable for cotton garden gloves and fabric gloves that are not delicate or require special treatment.

We only use this method as a last resort. After we attempt methods 1 or 2 first, if we find our gardening gloves still have stubborn ingrained soil stains, only then do we consider using a washing machine on a gentle cycle.

The reason why it is our last option is that washing machines tend to damage garden gloves. It weakens their integrity and, after multiple machine washes, we find we have to throw out the gloves anyway. In addition to this, using a complete washing machine cycle for one or two pairs of gardening gloves is not economical or environmentally friendly.

Recommended for Gloves Made From:

  • Cotton
  • Woven Fabric materials

How do you Wash Gardening Gloves Without Ruining Them? What NOT TO DO!

There are a few things you can do to prevent ruining your gardening gloves when you clean them.

  1. Knowing what your gloves are made from. Understanding the care requirements of the materials your gloves are made from can help stop many mistakes. For example, putting leather or suede gloves through the washing machine is a quick way to commit gardening glove assassination. Water generally does not mix with materials like leather and suede.
  2. Gardening Gloves for Specific Tasks. A big one for us is wrapping your mind around the fact that not all gardening gloves are made for multitasking. Rubber garden gloves are largely waterproof and durable, which is perfect for tough tasks that involve a lot of rough usage. Whereas, leather gloves are sensitive and delicate. They are extremely comfortable to wear while performing light gardening duties, but will be easily damaged and not easy to clean if working with wet, moist soil.
  3. Cold or Hot Water? Using water at incorrect temperatures can lead to damaged garden gloves. Rubber garden gloves are waterproof, but they are not temperature proof. Hot water can warp, and in some instances, melt the rubber, rendering it unusable.
  4. Regular Maintenance. Have you ever noticed, after a hard days work, when you leave your dirty gloves to sit for a while, they are stiff, smelly and generally unpleasant to work with? We’ve all done it – intentionally or unintentionally. And if you then go to try clean the unkept gloves, it is near impossible. But, if you look after your gardening gloves on a regular basis, the easier they are to clean, and they will serve you for a longer period. It’s not rocket science, but it does help to be reminded every now and again.

Different Types of Gardening Glove Materials

In this section we are going to look at the materials that gardening gloves can be made out of. We’ll also look at how to clean these particular materials, as well as provide you with some tips on the types of gardening activities the gloves should be used for.

How to Clean Leather, Deerskin or Suede Garden Gloves

leather gardening gloves

One of the most common questions we receive relating to cleaning gardening gloves is how to clean notoriously delicate materials like leather, suede or deerskin.

For sensitive materials, we recommend using number 3 (from our list above) as a cleaning method. Using a toothbrush allows you to brush loose dirt off your gloves. While the soft bristles won’t scratch or scar the soft surface of the glove.

We recommend only performing light garden work when you have these types of garden gloves. Also, try to stay away from activities that include water. Sensitive materials and water do not mix well, and will only end in tears. The only exception is if you treat the outside surface of your gloves with a ointment or leather oil that helps to provide your gloves with water repelling properties.

How to Clean Nitrile, Latex, or Rubber Gloves

High endurance gloves, like Rubber, Nitrile or Latex gloves, are perfect for those gardening activities that involve a lot of effort or water. Their smooth surfaces and waterproof properties are perfect for protecting your hands from getting wet, and getting injured from intense garden work like weeding or sawing thick branches.

But what makes them a fan favorite is their ease of cleaning. A simple rinse under some running water will generally do a satisfactory job of cleaning them, ready for the next job.

As mentioned above, only use cold water when rinsing off your gloves to prevent any warping or damage to the gloves.

How to Clean Regular Cotton Gloves

cotton gardening gloves

Cleaning cotton gloves is a relatively straight forward process. Like washing clothes, the best solution is to soak them in some warm water.

If you have particularly dirty gloves, you can add some laundry detergent to help with the cleaning process. Once they are clean, the best way to dry them is to air dry them on a washing line. Machine methods tend to speed up the process of wear and tear of the gloves, and you will end up binning them sooner than you expect.

Frequently Asked Questions for How to Wash Gardening Gloves

In this section we attempt to answer all your ‘other’ questions that may not be addressed in the how to wash gardening gloves cleaning guide.

If you don’t find an answer to your question, please send us a message via our CONTACT page. We will endeavor to respond with a timely answer, and include it in our growing FAQ section below.

Can you put gardening gloves in the washing machine?

The official answer is…it depends.

The main factor that determines if you can put gloves in the washing machine is the type of material they are made from. Any materials other than cotton or a fabric material should NOT be placed in a washing machine. For cleaning instructions, refer to our care guide.

Generally speaking, we try to avoid using a washing machine, because it weakens the integrity of the gloves. After multiple machine washes, we find we have to throw out the gloves anyway. In addition to this, using a full washing machine cycle for one or two pairs of gardening gloves is not economical or environmentally friendly.

How do you clean smelly garden gloves?

If you gloves smell due to a lack of general cleaning and maintenance, then a good clean will help to eliminate any smells. However, if your gloves are smelly due to sweat and moisture inside the glove, you can try adding in some baby powder while you are using the gloves. Baby powder helps to absorb the moisture inside the gloves and also reduces the smell. Your hands may smell like a freshly washed baby, but we think that is better than the rancid body odor smell…right?

How to Clean and Soften Leather Gardening Gloves?

We recommend using a soft bristled toothbrush to brush off all the dirt and soil. The soft bristles are ideal for cleaning dry soil off gloves that have sensitive materials, such as leather.

For particularly dirty leather gloves, you can take it one step further. Try using saddle soap to clean extra stubborn dirt patches. Like applying other leather goods, you simply need to massage the soap into your glove using circular motions.

Finally, to protect and soften your leather gloves, we recommend coating your gloves with oil treatments specifically designed for leather goods. This will help to keep the leather gloves in good condition and malleable for future use.

What’s Next?

So, now you know how to wash gardening gloves, the next step is to put your newfound knowledge into action.

Maintaining a regular habit of cleaning your gloves after each use will help to retain your gardening gloves condition and integrity. The goal is to keep your gloves for a long period of time, because like we said at the beginning of this guide – we’d all be lost without our gardening gloves!