Cleaning Leather Work Gloves


Cleaning Pink Glove

When you spend all day out on an oil-rig working, welding metal together, or moving debris at a construction site, your leather gloves are likely to get a little dirty. Your nice pair of grain leather gloves might not have that exact pristine look as when they were brand new. However, we’ve got some tips to help you get them back to looking their best. As we point out in our “Laundering PPE blog,” you may get nervous about cleaning your leather work gloves, but if you follow MCR Safety's guide to cleaning your leather gloves, they will look great and, most importantly, will still protect your hands. Below are some pointers from that guide.

Leather work gloves, with fabric backs and cuffs, are suggested to be laundered as follows:

  • Dry cleaning is to be done in front-loading, commercial washers/extractors.
  • Different solvents and chemicals may be used (for example, mineral spirits, petroleum solvents, and dry cleaning detergents).
  • The number of cleaning cycles necessary and their duration depends on how soiled the glove is.

For lightly soiled gloves:

Wash in petroleum solvents and detergents up to 10 minutes. 

For heavily soiled gloves:

Wash in two or three rinse cycles.  The first cycle should run for 5 to 10 minutes; the second and third cycles should run 10 minutes each.

Dirty Leather Glove
Heavily Soiled Leather Glove

  • Washing is done with chemicals at room temperature. No heat is needed. All chemicals are to be removed after each cycle. Chemicals can be filtered and re-used. All distilled chemicals are to be destroyed after use per E.P.A. regulations.
  • To dry gloves: Extractors are to be set at 110°F to 140°F and should run for 4 to 6 minutes.
  • To avoid stiffness in dried leather, gloves can be air-dried in a tumbler for up to 30 minutes at temperatures of 110°F to 120°F with 3/4" hard rubber balls to soften the leather.
  • Do not use any chlorine or bleach cleaning compound.

People often ask how many times a glove can be cleaned. The number of cleaning cycles a glove can withstand depends on the grade and quality of leather and the quality of glove fabrics. Some elastic materials used in glove cuffs may harden and become brittle due to chemical effects and heat. Gloves with duck fabric backs are most amenable to laundering.

Leather quality affects the number of times a leather glove can be washed. The thickness and grade of leather determine the durability of a glove, both in use and in laundering. You can read more on this topic in our “ABCs of Leather Work Gloves” blog.

Dry Cleaning

One last note regarding dry cleaning leather gloves: commercial dry cleaning is an acceptable, cost-effective method to re-using most leather work gloves. Some differences in shrinkage, hardening, weight loss, and color retention may occur, however, due to the dry cleaning process or chemicals used.

Everything you need to know about Leather Gloves

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