The Right Kind of Filthy Mitts: How to Clean Hockey Gloves

How to Clean Hockey Gloves at Home

We've all been there in the car with a kid or teammate whose hands emanate a smell that could peel the paint job off of said car. It's the quickest way to spoil your postgame Timmy's run. "Would you like your Timbits with a side of funk?" Said nobody, ever.

Now, everybody wants filthy mitts - but not that kind of filthy. If you wanted to grow bacteria or fungus for a science experiment, you'd want it to be damp, dark, and have little-to-no fresh air circulating...that kinda sounds like a hockey bag. And if you think that bacteria and fungus stays inside your gloves, you should just take a whiff of your hands after practice and you'll be sorted straight out. Who needs smelling salts, anyway?

But, for real, you need to take care of your stuff. Not just cause you want to look good, but also because you don't want to give the plague to your teammates. This guide is designed to help you clean your mitts, keep them fresh, and maintain their performance.

The Unspoken Importance of Clean Hockey Gloves

Picture the game: the rink is cold, your breath visible in the air as it leaves your mouth with focused intensity. As you wheel around the ice, your gloves are not only protecting your hands but are also delivering signals, feeling the pulse of the game. However, as your season wears on, their wear and tear can be as stealthy Theo Fleury (look him up). A proper cleaning can not only cut down the rank and revive your gloves' appearance, but also extend their life and safeguard the health of your hands.

Step 1: Preparing the Gloves

Removing Excess Grime

Before diving into any deep cleaning, start by clearing any evident grime. This is especially important for ODR players. A soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth can help loosen and dislodge the larger particles. This step is crucial to protecting your gloves during the more intense cleaning stages.

Inspecting for Any Damages

Next, check your gloves for signs of wear and tear. Pay close attention to the stitching, padding, and any hard shell components. If you notice any damage, address these issues before proceeding with the cleaning steps. A needle and thread can go a long way to extending the life of your gloves and keep them looking sharp. Neglecting to mend rips and tears may lead to further deterioration during cleaning or game-time action.

Step 2: Hand Washing Method

Using Mild Detergent and Warm Water

Prepare a bowl with lukewarm water and mix in a small amount of mild detergent, ensuring that it is fully dissolved. Lysol makes a good sanitizing additive that is bleach free and won't discolor you mitts. Dunk your gloves in the solution and allow them to absorb the soapy mixture, which will break down oils and grime without harming the materials.

Scrubbing the Gloves Gently

With the gloves still submerged, use your hands or a soft brush to gently agitate the surface. Pay special attention to highly soiled areas, such as the palms and finger protection zones. Swipe that brush around inside the glove too, cause that's where most of the stink is.

Rinsing and Drying Properly

After washing, rinse the gloves thoroughly to remove all soapy residue. Residual detergent can not only cause skin irritation but also attract dirt more easily. Once clean, gently squeeze the gloves to remove excess water and allow them to air dry in a well-ventilated area, or in front of a fan, away from direct heat sources that could warp or shrink the materials.

Step 3: Machine Washing Method

Guidelines for Using a Washing Machine

For those who opt for a quicker (and maybe lazier) solution, placing your hockey gloves in a washing machine can be an efficient way to clean them. Use a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water and a small amount of mild detergent. For more protection, place the gloves in a mesh laundry bag to protect them. And, sorry, but if your washing machine has one of those agitators in the middle, you're SOL. Don't put your gloves in that kind of machine.

Precautions to Avoid Damage

If your gloves feature delicate materials or elements, like leather or intricate embroidery, it is best to avoid machine washing. These components are not designed to withstand the mechanical action of a washer. High temperatures and fabric softeners are no-nos as well, so don't just throw a Tide Pod in there.

Step 4: Deodorizing and Sanitizing

Eliminating Odors with Natural Remedies

After cleaning, if any lingering odors persist, you can turn to natural deodorizers. Simple solutions like baking soda or activated charcoal pouches can be placed inside the gloves to absorb odors. Another method is to fill a sock with talcum or baking powder, tie the end, and leave it in each glove for a day or two.

Disinfecting the Gloves Effectively

Disinfecting wipes or sprays can be used to sanitize the inner linings of your gloves. But, if you really want to be confident that your gloves are disinfected and that they'll be protected from bacteria and fungus for the long haul, you gotta get yourself a bottle of MicrobeCare. This stuff chemically bonds at the molecular level and doesn't wash out. The science behind it is insane. And you might as well spray your entire kit and bag while you're at it.

Step 5: Maintaining and Extending Lifespan

Tips for Regular Maintenance

The best way to keep any piece of sports equipment clean is to stay on top of it. After each game, wipe off any snow accumulation and, if you have them handy, swab the inside with some baby wipes. This quick maintenance will prevent the build-up of funk and keep your gloves looking and smelling fresh.

Proper Storage and Drying Techniques

When not in use, store your hockey gloves in a well-ventilated area that is not too hot or too damp. Investing in a glove/boot dryer can be beneficial if you play frequently, as it will prolong the lifespan of your gloves by preventing the growth of mold and mildew. If you get a four-post dryer, you can put your gloves and skates on at the same time. Some even have a gentle warming feature. BONUS. Whatever the case, avoid leaving them in the bottom of your hockey bag, or the stank will be strong and the shape could be deformed next time you pull them out.

A clean hockey glove in white


Unpacking your bag after a hard skate is nobodies favorite thing to do. But it'll pay dividends. You'll look better, feel better, SMELL better, and play better with a few minutes of attention.

By following the comprehensive cleaning guide provided, you can maintain the integrity, utility, and comfort of your hockey gloves. Remember, every goal, assist, and save starts with the little things, and in hockey, the cleanliness of your gloves is about as foundational as it gets. So, grab that detergent and dive into this thorough cleaning process. Your gloves, your game - and your teammates - will thank you.