How to Clean Gloves and Mittens Like a Pro

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Keep your winter mittens and gloves clean and as germ-free as possible with these at-home cleaning tips.

This pandemic winter, keeping mittens and gloves clean has become more important than ever. Cleaning them at home is certainly more cost-effective than bringing them to the dry cleaners. And if you’re cleaning them more frequently, it’s especially important to do it the right way, no matter the material.

We talked with fabric cleaning expert Donna Smallin Kuper of Unclutter.com and consulted with glove manufacturers for the dos and don’ts of cleaning mittens and gloves at home.

Washing Wool Gloves

Wash wool gloves and mittens using a cold-water delicate wash cycle, or hand wash with a gentle detergent such as baby shampoo or Woolite, advises Smallin Kuper.

Gently roll wet wool in an absorbent towel to remove water. Do not wring wool gloves or mittens because that will stretch the fibers. Let these wool items dry flat, with good ventilation.

Washing Waterproof Gloves

Spot clean waterproof synthetic ski gloves with a damp cloth and mild detergent.

If they need a deeper cleaning, hand wash with gentle detergent such as baby shampoo or Woolite, or use a gentle, warm-water washing machine cycle and a mild soap such as soap flakes. A stronger detergent can affect the waterproofing. Use a lingerie bag and make sure any Velcro straps are closed before you wash.

Hang gloves by the fingertips on a clothesline, or put them on a boot dryer or in the dryer on a low setting.

If droplets of water no longer bead up on the fabric, you may need to apply a fresh coat of waterproofing spray once your gloves are completely dry.

Cleaning Leather Gloves

Leather products such as NikWax or other leather conditioners keep leather gloves clean, supple and water resistant by not harming their natural oils, Smallin Kuper says. There are protectant sprays for suede as well.

A brief wipe-down with mild soap and a damp (not wet) cloth should be safe for a quick cleaning between treatments with conditioner. Sprinkle a little baking soda or cornstarch on the inside of leather gloves to refresh the lining. Be sure to clean your leather handbag while you’re at it, if you have one.

Washing Knit Mittens

Wash most cotton or polyester knit gloves, runner’s gloves and glove and mitten liners in the washing machine on a gentle wash cycle with warm or cold water. Most can go into a dryer on a low setting.

Head Off Germs

Whether they’re freshly washed or wet from an epic snowball fight, prevent mildew or germs from growing inside soggy gloves by making sure they dry thoroughly. Lay damp gloves on drying racks or use a boot dryer.

If your dryer has a steam refresh cycle, use it. The experts at Press Cleaners, a pick-up and delivery laundry service, say it’s a nice, quick way to zap germs and freshen sport gloves and knit mittens.