I spend a lot of time designing and developing a product, thinking about not only the mechanics of how it will be constructed to optimize performance but how it will be used ultimately for its intended purpose. I take a lot of pride in this process as I know what a difference it makes between having great equipment versus the average run of the mill stuff.
When you open a new pair of gloves we have created, it ignites your desire to train and gives you that extra confidence to push that little more to get the most out of your training. They become a valued item in your arsenal of gear, and having the proper equipment comes with that little bit of pride you have in owning them. So, taking care of them should be top of your list.
One of the most common and re-occurring questions I get asked relates to the care and maintenance of Boxing gloves. So, I thought it's time I put together some background, hints, and tips to help you get the most out of your gloves.
Understanding the glove
Your gloves are constructed from multiple types of materials, which are bonded or stitched to each other to encompass concepts such as the transmission/ absorption of energy, the dynamics of shape to create a fitted glove to fit your hand securely and suit the function of the glove, i.e., bag work, sparring or competition. The primary material components utilized have what we call a memory, which allows them to return/recover to their various states. All materials used have a different function in the construction like compression, strengthen or stretch, etc. the lifespan of each component is not infinite and is subject to wear and tear over the lifespan of your glove. Maintaining your glove allows the various parts to work at their optimal function over the maximum period of your glove’s life span.
Your gloves are much like your trainers (shoes) as they are closed units. Like your feet, your hands perspire (sweat) profusely when you train, leaving moisture containing water and other chemicals from your body and any bacteria which tend to be on your hands. Moisture is one of the most significant factors affecting the longevity of your gloves and its components. Now add the increased temperature inside your glove caused by your body heating up as is expends energy as you train, and this multiplies the effect moisture has on your glove. This temperature increase tends to be a significant catalyst for the growth of bacteria in your glove, which is a known cause of glove smell over time and other potential hygiene issues.
Care and Maintenance
The old saying prevention is the best treatment stands true for your gloves. The reason I say this is because the manner in which all boxing gloves are constructed doesn't make them easy to clean. As such, the following tips lead with the prevention, which is what I consider to be the best foundation for taking care of your gloves.
Wash Your Hands
Most wouldn't think about it given your about to get sweaty but washing your hands before you train is a simple but effective concept. Your hands carry dirt, contaminants, and bacteria. The bacteria which generally loves a warm wet environment to thrive is the most
common cause of that terrible glove smell over time. Washing your hands removes dirt, contaminants, and most bacteria you may have on your hands.
Note: Utilising hand sanitizer helps with this, removing the majority of bacteria if you are unable to wash your hands. For an even better effect, use after washing your hands if your skin allows.
Most people take a wide berth when considering hand wraps. Most of the time is because they are either not sure how to use them ( check out our how to wrap hands videos by clicking here), embarrassed to ask or learn, or just a little lazy about using them. Not only do they offer the extra protection your hands and wrist require, they also serve a sanitary
purpose. Much like wearing socks with your shoes. Your wraps soak up the sweat from your hands and minimize the amount of moisture and other chemicals transferred to your gloves.
Wraps, unlike your gloves, can easily be thrown in the washing machine with the rest of your workout clothes. If using traditional cloth wraps, to keep them from getting tangled, you can purchase small mesh bags that allow the wraps to get thoroughly cleaned without strangling the rest of your clothes.
Wipe Your Gloves Down
Your gloves are exposed to external factors like contact with equipment and contact with other people. Leaving sweat, blood, infectious, and other contaminants. You should wipe down the outside of your gloves with any of the following.
• Use a soft damp cloth to remove any dirt or other debris initially. Be careful not to put too much force around the logos and designs on the gloves
• Gently wipe with an antibacterial solution. At this stage, it not about removing anything by force; rather its about treating any potential bacteria left on the glove. Do not use anything harsh like bleach.
• Certain types of Antibacterial wipes may be suitable for the disinfecting function. They can also be used to wipe the inside of the gloves as well, if needed.
• Natural solutions like Vinegar and water work. They are not 99.9% antibacterial but can offer a great natural alternative to commercial cleaning solutions. Ideally, low strength solutions with high antibacterial effects work best as a general-purpose cleaner for your gloves, which are least likely to damage your glove.
• Avoid using cleaning agents with high acidic or petroleum-based components.
Note: Test your cleaning solutions, wipes and cloths on a small, obscure area of you glove before wiping the whole glove as your warranty doesn't cover the use of the different solutions and wipes .
Dry Your Gloves
As quickly as you can remove the moisture from your gloves, i.e., dry your gloves out. The most common way is to air your gloves. This is not the first thing you can do given you have to get them home first, but there are ways:
• Use Onward Sports Energizers. These are fresh little additions to your training kit and can help easy extend the life of your gloves while removing the odor (you can even use them in your shoes, just get a separate set). They are designed to suck the moisture out of our gloves, and I use them straight away by inserting them into my gloves after I train, and they start to work immediately. The best thing is if you have the starter pack with the connect band you can just hand your glove up when you get home ( Learn more about Onward Sport Energizers)
• Take your gloves out of your gym bag to help them air. Keeping them in your gym bag doesn’t allow for high airflow, and they tend to stay warmer and wetter for longer, allowing the moisture to penetrate the various parts of your gloves and also promotes the growth and spread of any bacteria.
• When you air your gloves (if you don’t have the Sports Energizers), you will need to open your gloves up (keep the straps open, unfastened). Ensure you keep them in an area that has good airflow to assist with evaporation but keep out of direct sunlight.
• You can put them in front of a fan to increase airflow.
• Don’t put your gloves in front of any sort of heater or heated air dryer for much the same reason as keeping them in direct sunlight.
• Keep your gloves stored on a shelf with good airflow until your next session. Don't store in your gym bag even if they are dry.
Note: The reason for keeping your gloves out of direct sunlight is it doesn't necessarily assist with evaporation especially if there is no airflow and it can cause you gloves to be exposed to extreme UV, and temperature increases which depending on the materials used in the construction of your gloves may start to affect the performance of these materials .
Other DO'S and DON’TS
• DON’T leave in the boot (trunk) or any other part of your car. It's the same as leaving in your gym bag, just a bigger space. If you leave your equipment in there for days at a time, it will be subject to severe temperature changes as well which generally affects the components of your gloves
• DON’T put in the washing machine or dryer. Your gloves are not designed to be immersed in water for any period of time. They are also not intended for the varying loads and strains it will go through in a washing cycle, including the chemical process it will be exposed to. Manufacturers know when it has been put in the machine, and it not covered under the glove warranties offered.
• DON’T let sprays and other cleaning solutions pool or sit on your gloves.
• DO use moisture-absorbing packs if you don't have Onward Sports Energizers
• DO have a different type of glove for various purposes. As an example, if your training and do bag/ pad work and also spar as part of your training. Have a pair of gloves for bag and pad work and one set for sparring. Gloves are designed for different purposes, so having the right glove for the purpose is critical. Also, it allows you different gloves to recover after each session.
• DO let your gloves dry before each use
• DON’T spray products into your gloves, which could cause skin irritations or damage to the inside of your glove.
• DON’T use your gloves for anything they are not intended for. Your gloves are designed to strike, block, and parry. Doing activities such as push-ups with your gloves, for example, places a load on the materials for an extended period putting a strain on the seams, scuffs the striking surface, and effecting the memory of its parts which they are not designed to deal with.
• DON’T share gloves. Gloves work best when one person uses them for their life. I always recommend you have your own set for your personal use for the following reasons
o Each glove can cope with a certain amount of sweat and heat when used for a session. When multiple people use the same glove, you take the glove beyond some optimal operating conditions exposing it to excessive and prolonged periods of heat and moisture accumulation Hygiene is another factor given the amount each person will sweat. Each individual will have varying levels of chemicals in their sweat mixed with potential contaminants and bacteria on their hands. That's why those communal gym gloves are the worst smelling.
o Each person strikes differently, as we all have different styles, techniques, weights, and hand sizes. Your gloves will be under changing loads and use as such, distorting them as each person uses them, making them not fit securing as they progressively get used. Just consider if you would share your shoes with someone else in the gym .