can you wash cycling gloves

Can You Wash Cycling Gloves?

Last Updated on September 28, 2023

Cycling gloves are that essential part of any cyclist’s gear. Just like helmets, cycling shoes, and other pieces of cycling apparel, gloves provide comfort, grip, and protection, making your ride smoother and safer. However, like any piece of clothing, they can get dirty and sweaty, especially after a challenging mountain biking adventure or a long road cycling tour. So, can you wash cycling gloves without ruining them?

You can definitely wash cycling gloves. Depending on the level of dirt and the type of gloves, whether they’re leather, synthetic, full-finger, or fingerless, the best methods include hand washing, machine washing, or spot cleaning.

Let’s look at these cleaning methods to get quickly back on the saddle.

Hand Washing Cycling Gloves

Hand washing is the most gentle and recommended method for cleaning cycling gloves. It helps to maintain the integrity of the gloves’ fabric, be it Lycra, spandex, or mesh, while ensuring they are thoroughly cleaned.

  • Preparation: Gather your materials. You’ll need a basin or sink, lukewarm water, and a mild detergent. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals as they can damage the gloves’ material, particularly if they’re leather or have Velcro straps. A soft brush can be handy for stubborn dirt.
  • Soak: Fill the basin with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Submerge the gloves in the water. Let them soak for about 15 minutes to loosen any dirt or sweat from long bicycle tours.
  • Clean: After soaking, gently agitate the gloves in the water. Use your hands or the soft brush to scrub the gloves, especially areas with grip enhancement or where sweat has accumulated. Be gentle to avoid damaging the fabric or the padding on the palm.
  • Rinse: Rinse the gloves thoroughly under running water until all the soap is removed. It’s crucial to remove all the detergent, as any residue can irritate your skin during your next ride or damage the gloves’ breathability and UV protection features over time.
  • Dry: Gently squeeze out excess water without wringing the gloves, which can harm the fabric and padding. Press the gloves to remove water.
  • Air Dry: Lay the gloves flat on a clean, dry towel. Roll the towel with the gloves inside and press gently. Then, unroll and leave them to air dry in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight, to prevent shrinking and fading. Remember, hand washing can extend the life of your cycling gloves, ensuring they’re ready for your next cycling adventure.
An interesting alternative hand washing method for cycling gloves

Machine Washing Cycling Gloves

For those post-adventure moments when your gloves are caked in dirt or after a series of long rides, machine washing can come in handy. But take precautions to prevent damage.

  • Preparation: Turn the gloves inside out to protect the outer material, like the wrist support features, and ensure the inside gets a thorough clean. Grab a mesh laundry bag, mild detergent, and get your washing machine ready.
  • Laundry Bag: The mesh laundry bag will protect the gloves during the wash cycle, ensuring they don’t get tangled with other items, like cycling shorts or jerseys.
  • Washing Machine Settings: Opt for a gentle cycle with cold water to protect the gloves from shrinking or warping. Add a mild detergent and avoid bleach or fabric softener, which can compromise the gloves’ weatherproofing and other features.
  • Wash: Run the cycle. It’s best to wash gloves with similar colors and materials.
  • Post-Wash Care: After washing, remove the gloves promptly from the machine and laundry bag to prevent odors or mildew.
  • Drying: Follow the air drying method as mentioned above to ensure they retain their shape and functionality.

Always remember, while machine washing is convenient, it can be tougher on your gloves than hand washing. Just like you’d check your bicycle’s chain lubricant or saddle adjustments, always inspect the care label on your gloves for specific cleaning instructions before machine washing.

Spot Cleaning Cycling Gloves

Spot cleaning is ideal for when your gloves have only been exposed to minor dirt during a short bicycle ride or if you’ve had an accidental spill on them during a break. This method focuses on cleaning specific areas without the need to wash the entire glove, making it perfect for isolated stains or spills, especially on gloves made of delicate materials like leather or those with Velcro straps.

  • Preparation: Assemble your cleaning materials. You’ll need a clean cloth, lukewarm water, and a mild detergent. If you’re dealing with more stubborn stains, perhaps from chain lubricant or chamois cream, a soft brush can come in handy.
  • Dampen the Cloth: Moisten a cloth with lukewarm water. It’s crucial to ensure the cloth is both clean and soft to safeguard against causing any abrasions or damage to the gloves, especially if they feature grip enhancement or UV protection.
  • Apply Detergent: Dispense a small quantity of mild detergent onto the cloth. Refrain from using aggressive chemicals or bleach, as these agents can compromise the gloves’ material and reduce their breathability and other functionalities.
  • Clean the Area: Tenderly rub the soiled area using the cloth, employing a circular motion to effectively lift the stain. For tenacious stains, perhaps from energy drinks or road grime, resort to the soft brush and gently scrub the region. Exercise caution to avoid excessive scrubbing, which can harm the fabric or the padding on the palm.
  • Rinse: Post cleaning, use another cloth dampened with clean water to rinse the cleaned area. This step ensures the removal of any lingering soap residue. It’s paramount to eliminate all detergent remnants, as any residue might irritate your skin during subsequent rides or degrade the glove’s performance over time.
  • Dry: Gently pat the refreshed area with a towel. Abstain from rigorous rubbing, which could lead to the fabric pilling or damaging the mesh parts of the glove.
  • Air Dry: Position the gloves to air dry in a well-ventilated space, steering clear of direct sunlight to avert potential shrinking or fading, especially if they are made of materials like Lycra or spandex.

Always bear in mind, spot cleaning serves as a swift and proficient technique to address localized stains or spills on your cycling gloves. Nevertheless, if your gloves are laden with dirt or saturated with sweat after an intensive mountain biking session or road cycling challenge, it’s more beneficial to resort to comprehensive hand washing or machine washing.


What is the best way to dry my cycling gloves after washing them?

The best way to dry your cycling gloves after washing is to let them air dry. Lay them flat on a towel in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. This method ensures that the gloves maintain their shape and prevents any potential damage that could be caused by heat.

Avoid using a tumble dryer as the heat can cause the gloves to shrink or warp. Patting the cycling gloves with a towel to remove excess water before air drying will speed up the drying process.

How often should I wash my cycling gloves?

The frequency of washing your cycling gloves depends on how often you use them and how sweaty or dirty they get. If you cycle every day, it’s recommended to wash your gloves once a week. If you cycle less frequently, washing them every two weeks should suffice. If your gloves become noticeably dirty or start to smell, it’s best to wash them immediately to prevent any bacteria build-up.

Can I use regular laundry detergent to wash my cycling gloves?

Yes, you can use regular laundry detergent to wash your cycling gloves. It’s best to use a mild detergent to prevent damage to the gloves’ material. Harsh detergents can break down the fabrics and materials used in cycling gloves, reducing their lifespan.
Always ensure to thoroughly rinse out any detergent to prevent residue build-up which can lead to skin irritation.

Are there any special instructions for washing cold weather cycling gloves?

Cold weather cycling gloves often have additional insulation and waterproofing that can be damaged by harsh cleaning methods. It’s best to hand wash this specific type of glove with a mild detergent and let them air dry. Avoid wringing them out as this can damage the insulation.

If the gloves have leather parts, consider using a leather-specific cleaner and conditioner to keep the leather soft and water-resistant.

Can I wash my mountain biking gloves the same way as my road cycling gloves?

Yes, the cleaning methods outlined above can be used for both mountain biking gloves and road cycling gloves. However, always check the care label on your gloves for any specific cleaning instructions. Mountain biking gloves may be more durable and able to withstand a machine wash, while road cycling gloves might require a more delicate hand wash.

How do I prevent my cycling gloves from shrinking in the wash?

To prevent your cycling gloves from shrinking in the wash, avoid using hot water and do not put them in the tumble dryer. High temperatures can cause the fibers in the gloves to contract, leading to shrinkage. So always let your gloves air dry in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. If you’re machine washing, use a cold water setting and a gentle cycle.


Cycling gloves, like any other piece of gear, require proper care and cleaning to maintain their functionality and longevity. Hand washing, machine washing, and spot cleaning are all effective methods for cleaning your gloves. It’s important to use mild detergents, avoid harsh cleaning methods, and let your gloves air dry to prevent damage.

By sticking to a few washing rules, you can keep your gloves in top condition and ensure they’re ready for your next ride.