How to Clean and Maintain Leather Gloves and Mittens?

Leather gloves and mittens are not just practical winter accessories; they add a touch of sophistication to any outfit. However, these elegant items require proper care and maintenance to maintain their luster and longevity. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on cleaning and maintaining leather gloves and mittens, from understanding the different types of leather and their reactions to dirt and moisture to providing a step-by-step cleaning process. 

We'll also share tips on proper storage, handling spills and stains, and when to consider professional leather care services. Whether you're a new owner of leather gloves or looking to enhance your care routine, this guide is designed to help you maximize the lifespan of your leather accessories. So, let's get started!

Understanding Leather Material

Before delving into the cleaning process, it's important to understand the material you're dealing with. Leather is a natural product, and like our skin, it has unique characteristics and needs.

Different Types of Leather Used in Gloves and Mittens

There are several types of leather used in the production of gloves and mittens, each with its own set of properties.

  • Cowhide Leather: This is the most common type of leather due to its durability and resistance to wear and tear. It can withstand harsh conditions, making it an excellent choice for outdoor gloves.
  • Sheepskin Leather: Known for its softness and flexibility, sheepskin leather is commonly used in high-end gloves and mittens. It provides great comfort but requires careful handling as it's more delicate than cowhide.
  • Deerskin Leather: Deerskin is renowned for its extreme softness and flexibility. It's often used in luxury gloves and mittens because of its high comfort levels and elegant appearance.
  • Goatskin Leather: Goatskin is resilient, supple, and has a natural oiliness, making it resistant to water and stains. It's a popular choice for work gloves.

How Leather Reacts to Dirt, Sweat, and Water

Leather's porous nature means it readily absorbs dirt, which can accumulate in its pores, causing the material to become dull and degrade over time. This accumulation can lead to stiffness and cracking if not regularly cleaned. Similarly, sweat can adversely affect leather; its salts and oils can penetrate the material, causing it to dry out and crack. Regular cleaning is essential to remove these residues and prevent damage, maintaining the leather's aesthetic and structural integrity.

Water exposure poses a significant risk to leather, as it can strip away the natural oils that keep the material supple, leading to warping, stiffening, and discoloration. If leather gets wet, it should be dried slowly and away from direct heat to prevent damage. Post-drying conditioning is crucial to replenish lost oils and ensure the material remains flexible and durable. 

Step Guide on How to Clean Leather Gloves and Mittens

Cleaning leather gloves and mittens is essential for their longevity and appearance. Here's a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you effectively clean your leather handwear.

Step 1: Preparation

  • Gather Your Supplies: You'll need a soft cloth, mild leather cleaner, a soft brush (optional for textured leathers), and a bowl of lukewarm water.
  • Identify the Leather Type: Determine whether your gloves are made of smooth leather, suede, or nubuck, as the cleaning method will vary.

Step 2: Dusting Off

  • Remove Surface Dirt: Gently brush off any surface dirt or dust from the gloves. If they are smooth leather, you can lightly dampen a soft cloth with water and wipe the surface.

Step 3: Spot Cleaning

  • Addressing Stains: Apply a small amount of leather cleaner to a soft cloth. Test it on a small, inconspicuous area first. Gently dab and wipe away stains or spots. Avoid using too much water or cleaner, as leather doesn't respond well to excessive moisture.

Step 4: Deep Cleaning

  • Thorough Cleaning: For a deeper clean, especially if the gloves have not been cleaned for a while, use a cleaner designed for the type of leather you have. Apply the cleaner to the cloth, not directly on the leather, and gently work it over the surface in a circular motion.

Step 5: Rinsing (If Necessary)

  • Minimal Water Use: If you need to rinse the cleaner, use a damp cloth with clean water and gently wipe the gloves. Do not soak the leather.

Step 6: Drying

  • Air Dry: After cleaning, let the gloves air dry naturally. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, which can cause the leather to warp or crack. Stuff the gloves with paper towels to maintain their shape and absorb moisture.

Step 7: Conditioning

  • Apply Leather Conditioner: Once the gloves are completely dry, apply a small amount of leather conditioner to maintain the leather's softness and prevent cracking. Again, test the conditioner on a small area first.

Step 8: Final Touches

  • Buff and Finish: After conditioning, buff the gloves with a soft cloth to restore their shine and remove any excess conditioner. Ensure they are completely dry before storing them.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your leather gloves and mittens remain clean, supple, and durable for years to come. Regular maintenance not only enhances the appearance of your leather goods but also contributes to their longevity and performance.

Maintaining Leather Gloves and Mittens

Maintaining your leather gloves and mittens extends beyond regular cleaning. Here are some additional tips to ensure they stay in top condition for years to come:

  • Proper Storage: Always store your leather gloves and mittens in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Sunlight can fade the color of the leather, while humid conditions can lead to mildew. If possible, store them flat to prevent creasing.
  • Avoid Water Exposure: While it's difficult to keep gloves and mittens completely dry during winter, try to minimize their exposure to water. If they do get wet, let them air dry naturally. Do not use heat sources to speed up the drying process as it can cause the leather to crack.
  • Regular Conditioning: Even if your gloves don't need cleaning, it's good practice to condition them at least once a season. Conditioning helps to replenish the natural oils in the leather, keeping it supple and preventing it from drying out and cracking.

  • Handle with Care: Always put on and remove your gloves gently to avoid stretching the leather. Also, avoid wearing rings and other jewelry that could scratch the leather surface.
  • Professional Cleaning: For stubborn stains or when in doubt, consider seeking professional help. Professional leather cleaners have specialized tools and knowledge to safely clean and restore your leather gloves and mittens without causing damage.

Do's and Don'ts When Handling Leather Gloves and Mittens

Proper handling is crucial for the longevity and quality of your leather gloves and mittens. Follow these guidelines to ensure they remain in top condition.


  • Clean Regularly: Regular cleaning prevents the buildup of oils and grime that can degrade leather.
  • Condition the Leather: Use a quality conditioner to maintain the leather's moisture and flexibility, avoiding cracks.
  • Store Correctly: Place your gloves in a cool, dry area, preferably in a breathable fabric bag to prevent mold and mildew. Incorporate a cedar block to ward off pests and odors.
  • Allow Natural Drying: If wet, let the gloves dry naturally away from direct heat. Stuffing with paper maintains shape and aids in moisture absorption.
  • Handle With Care: Always touch your gloves with clean hands to avoid transferring oils and dirt.


  • Apply Harsh Chemicals: Harsh chemicals or alcohol-based cleaners can strip natural oils and damage the leather.
  • Expose to Excessive Sunlight: Direct sunlight for extended periods can fade and dry out the leather.
  • Soak in Water: Avoid soaking leather; excessive water can lead to shrinking, warping, and hardening.
  • Use Direct Heat for Drying: Avoid hairdryers or placing gloves near radiators or flames to dry; it can cause cracking.
  • Store When Damp: Ensure gloves are completely dry before storage to prevent mold and bad odors.
  • Fold or Crush: Store gloves flat or gently rolled to avoid creases and maintain their shape.

In conclusion

Proper care and maintenance of your leather gloves and mittens are pivotal for their longevity, appearance, and functionality. Understanding the nuances of different leather types, coupled with regular cleaning, conditioning, and adherence to specific care guidelines, ensures that your leather handwear remains a durable, comfortable, and stylish accessory. 

By investing a bit of time and effort into their upkeep, you not only honor the craftsmanship behind these items but also ensure they continue to serve and complement your wardrobe through various seasons, embodying a blend of practicality and elegance.