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How To Clean A Baseball -Or- Softball Glove

Have you ever cleaned your glove?

We’re going to guess that a lot of parents and players just answered with a resounding “No”. But if they knew that a little bit of work a few times a season could allow their glove to last an extra season (or maybe multiple seasons), we'd bet that they’d be willing to start cleaning their gloves!

Like a lot of things these days, a big to-do can be made about the process of cleaning your glove. You might think that you need a specific tool or a special product to do a thorough cleaning. And while specialized tools and products are helpful, you can always do some sort of cleaning of your glove with supplies that are already at your house.

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First...Make Cleaning Your Glove Easier

If you want to make cleaning your glove easier, then consider how you store it. The temptation of all players is to drop their baseball or softball bag in the garage right when they get home from practice or a game. And then leave it there till they need it again. In this scenario, the glove is left smashed between your other gear. Not only is it resting in a flattened or unnatural shape, but no air flow is getting to it either. This is not optimal for a glove, as the sweat from your hand will sink into the leather. Favored Leather offers some insight on the effects of sweat on leather explaining that sweat contains three components that can be bad for your glove:

  1. Salt - It will draw out water and oils from the glove leather which will then cause it to harden and crack
  2. Soluble Minerals  (i.e. Potassium) - These can deteriorate leather
  3. Proteins - These can create a film that makes it hard for air to get to the leather

To avoid your sweat from wreaking havoc on the leather of your glove. Be sure to take it out of your gear bag when you arrive home from a practice or game and place it palm down or upright for storing:

Proper Positions In Which To Store Your Glove

And if you’ve found yourself needing some products to help promote proper care and storage of your glove, consider grabbing our Glove Care Kit. This kit has all of the tools needed to allow for a sufficient glove break in and then a long life for your glove.

Clean Your Glove With Supplies You Already Own

Believe it or not, you can provide a little maintenance to your glove today with stuff that you already own.

The simplest method of cleaning your softball or baseball glove is to grab a rag and just start wiping off the dust, dirt and grime that have built up on the outside. Then use the same rag (or a thinner one if needed) to clean out the hand stall and finger stalls. Although this method is very rudimentary, you’ll be doing your glove a huge favor and promoting a longer life for it if you commit to doing this a few times each season.

Sometimes a dry rag won’t be able to wipe away all of the debris on your glove. This especially could be the case if you haven’t cleaned your glove before. If this is the situation you’ve found yourself in, feel free to get the rag slightly damp with water (we would recommend using the least amount of water possible). In most cases, the water should be able to help remove any excess material off of the glove. 

If you are hesitant about using water to help clean your glove, please know that we appreciate your caution. But a small amount of water should be able to evaporate off a glove easily. Still though, if you want to avoid using water completely, consider using a toothbrush to clean your glove. The bristles are typically able to remove most dirt off of a glove and they are also gentle enough to not hurt it. Go ahead and take a peak in your toiletry bin and see if your dentist gave you a spare brush the last time you visited them. Then get cleaning!

No matter if you use a dry rag, a damp rag or a toothbrush; be sure to store the glove as described above in the palm down or upright position (preferably in a spot where it can get some air flow).

Post Glove-Cleaning Considerations

Now you may have to spend some money to check off this next requirement for glove cleaning, but we believe it will be worth it.

Consider getting a glove moisturizing product and applying it to your glove (these are commonly called "conditioners") . You can do a deep dive on the web to find out what product is the absolute best. However, we believe that as long as you are adding some sort of conditioning product a few times a year, you’re doing your glove a service. Typically, glove conditioners can be categorized into two groups:

  • Oils - Has a more "liquid" consistency
  • Pastes - Looks more like a "jelly" substance

Condition Your Glove With An Oil Or Paste

The purpose of these conditioners is to get into the interior of the leather and lubricate the fibers of the material (so they can move freely against eachother). When those fibers are allowed to dry out, that is when leather hardens. If the leather of a glove hardens, the next time you squeeze the glove, it will most likely begin cracking. The key is to condition at least a few times a year to ensure that the glove never hardens.

When it comes to using an oil or a paste conditioner, there are a couple considerations to entertain. After a conversation with Skip Horween (of Horween Leather), we were taught that an an oil will penetrate deeper into the pores of leather (thus lubricating the fibers of the leather more thoroughly). As well, Skip let us know that a paste, while not penetrating as deeply, will provide the best protective coat to better prevent sweat, dirt and grime from getting absorbed into the leather. 

Some might argue that an oil is better than a paste (or vice-versa). But as long as you're adding something to your leather, we’re happy as either type of product will be providing a service to your glove.

Some folks might even suggest adding an oil first and then adding a paste to get the penetrating effects of the oil and then the protection of the paste. This is a pretty solid idea. But if you plan to go this route, be sure to consider the weight of your glove. Typically, a glove will retain some of the product you put into it. We just don’t want you to add so much product that you start to notice the glove feeling heavy (in most cases, the lighter a glove is…the better).

Dry Environments vs Humid Environments

In the fall of 2022, the New York Times did a story on professional players and their relationships with gloves. The story actually made a very interesting observation on glove care regarding the environment in which one plays most of their games.

Until 2021, Trea Turner had played his career in muggy Washington, DC. When he was traded to Los Angeles during the second half of the 2021 season, he noted that his routine for caring for his Rawlings glove had to change. With Los Angeles providing a drier environment, he noticed that the leather on his glove was becoming parched a lot more easily. 

It’s good to note that if you live in the western or southwestern states of the US, you may find yourself needing to get a few extra coats of a conditioner on your glove throughout the year due to the drier air in those regions.

The Deep Cleaning Option

In recent years, the baseball and softball glove market has seen more products introduced that are designed to clean a glove’s leather in an extremely thorough manner. 

If you want to go beyond a simple rag or toothbrush to clean the surface of your glove, then these products may interest you. From our observation they truly work and clean your glove in a way that simple remedies can’t quite match. 

We have seen these cleaners exist in the form of what we would call a soap (like Ball Player’s Balm Cleaner) and also in the form of what we would call an “ointment” or “lotion” (like the cleaner made by Sarna Baseball). These cleaning products will typically just need a little bit of water introduced to them. Then they can be rubbed into a glove with a brush. Bubbles and foam will start to form on the surface of the leather. And once you feel the specific section of leather you are cleaning is done, the bubbles and foam can be simply wiped from the leather with a rag. 

When using these products it is usually best to move section by section around the glove to ensure that the cleaning product is performing at its top level (we’ve observed that it’s probably best not to put it on the surface of the leather and let it sit without rubbing it in).

Below is an example of our friend Chris Bangert (a.k.a. The Ball Glove King) using the Sarna Baseball Cleaner to scrub down a glove:


Hopefully, we’ve enlightened you in the art of cleaning your baseball or softball glove. Even more so, we’ve made it clear that even a small amount of work done a few times a season can pay off by allowing your glove to last many seasons. If you still have questions, please reach out to our trained Glove Experts. They can be reached on the phone at 866-321-4568 (GLOV), through email via or you can LIVE CHAT an expert here!



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