How to Keep Boxing Gloves Clean & Smelling Fresh(ish)

Boxing gloves are one of those things that tend to start smelling bad over time. They are a breeding ground for bacteria when you sweat in them regularly. Over time it can get really bad, so bad that other students will avoid sparring with you. Don’t be “that guy” (or gal). There are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening, so do yourself and your sparring partners a favour and follow them so no one has to suffer:

1. Don’t leave them in your bag! Your warm, dark, damp training bag is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If you just leave your gloves in your bag after each sparring session, you’ll find your gloves getting stinkier and stinkier, especially in warmer weather. If you do nothing else, take them out of our training bag when you get home. This tip is also offered for uniforms in our article ‘Odour Management for Martial Artists.’


2. Air your gloves out.
Hang your gloves up in a well-ventilated area. This can be on a sheltered balcony or in a
sunny room with a fan. A mesh bag can be a handy tool for carting your gear that can be used to hang your stuff to dry it out. The main thing is that the gloves need to be completely dried out so the bacteria has no moisture in which to breed.

3. Use an anti-bacterial spray. Before hanging your gloves to dry, you can help kill the bacteria by using a spray. Febreeze has an anti-bacterial version that works well for this. If you forgot to air out your gloves, and they’re a little stinky, this can also be used as a quick fix to freshen them up when there’s no time. Just don’t use the spray as your main method of keeping your gloves fresh as it really only masks odours if you don’t dry them out properly.

4. Use Glove Dogs. You can buy these from a number of retailers online for around $10/pair, we can get them at our local retailer, Bushido. But you can also make your own cheaply. Find a pair of old cotton knee-high socks. Put cedar chips into socks (you can get them cheaply at a local pet store). Check to see how well it fits in your gloves. Repeat until you get the right amount. Tie knot into the top of the socks. Insert the glove dogs into your gloves when not in use to help absorb odours. You should still air them out, but if there are any lingering smells, these can help.

5. Freeze your gloves. If you’re gloves are in a really stinky state such that simply spraying them and airing them out isn’t getting the job done, put each glove in a sealed plastic bag then put them in your freezer overnight. Take them out of the freezer then air them out for a couple of days. As we all know, freezing kills a lot of bacteria, so this can help get rid of even the worst odour problems.

6. Use a dryer sheet. A fabric softener dryer sheet is another good method for quickly dealing with boxing glove odours. They don’t help dry them out, nor do they kill bacteria, but you can use them to rub the inside of the gloves to help them smell fresher. Of course, make sure you’re not allergic or sensitive to the chemicals on the sheet before you do this – it can cause some people to break out into rashes. You can also put a sheet in your training bag if it starts getting smelly.

Got any other tips for dealing with equipment odours? Please share your ideas in the comments. :)

Comments (3)

3 thoughts on “How to Keep Boxing Gloves Clean & Smelling Fresh(ish)

  1. You can try UV light, but you can only use UV-A, or UV-B; and it will take several minutes. Also, it will only work where the light directly hits the glove.
    While freezing can work to kill some bacteria, other bacteria simply becomes dormant and survives, so when the gloves get back to room temp, they revive to stink another day.
    The best cure is an ounce of prevention. Air your gloves right after working out. One thing I heard about was soaking your hands in Purell, or other alcohol washes, then stick your hands in the gloves and work it around. Afterwards, put the gloves in the sun or a warm place to accelerate the evaporation process. I think this would work well right after a workout, in order to evaporate moisture, but I don’t know what it will do to the inner lining, if anything. You can also put a sock stuffed with baking soda to absorb moisture and odors, but some powder will escape to the inside of the glove. You can also put a few dryer sheets inside, especially if it’s going to be a few days before the next use.

    • One thing I forgot to mention is wearing another slim glove inside, like an Isotoner or one of those cloth gloves coin collectors use. Or, you can try wrapping your hands, but this can be a bit time consuming.

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