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Should You Be Washing Your Gloves? Here’s the Germy Truth—and Exactly How to Clean Them

Tehrene Firman

Tehrene FirmanDecember 15, 2019

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When’s the last time you washed your gloves? If the answer is “never,” you’re in the majority. Every winter, you wear them daily, touching germy surfaces like door handles and—let’s be honest—using them as a tissue for your runny nose. As expected, that makes them nothing short of a hot bed for bacteria.

In a 2015 study conducted by Good Morning America, gloves of all different materials were swabbed for bacteria and viruses. While some samples tested positive for coronavirus, which is commonly behind winter colds and infections, there were also more serious discoveries. Nine came back with potentially harmful bacteria, including staph and MRSA. And, keep in mind, this was with a very small sample size.

Never washing your gloves isn’t the best idea for your health. (It also makes them smell.) The good news is it’s incredibly easy to clean them, and these are the best tactics to use this season.

How to wash your gloves, according to the material

1. Cotton

Cotton gloves might not be the warmest option, but they’re certainly the easiest to clean. Put them in the washing machine just like you would your other clothes. Either wash them separately, or toss them in with lights or darks, depending on the color. Then lay them out flat to dry, as they will shrink in the dryer (unless you’re not using heat).

2. Wool

Wool is more delicate, so you have to be gentle. Instead of using the washing machine, soak them in the sink or a bowl in warm water with a gentle laundry detergent. After five minutes, gently rinse them with cool water. Instead of wringing them out, which can affect the shape, gently squeeze out the water then lay them flat to air dry.

3. Leather and faux leather

To clean leather and faux leather gloves, wet a clean cloth or paper towel and use a tiny amount of a mild soap to gently clean the surface of the gloves. Rinse them with lukewarm water. After they dry, turn them inside out and disinfect the inside by spraying an equal amount of vinegar and water, then lay them flat to air dry.

4. Nylon

Like wool gloves, it’s best to wash nylon gloves by soaking them in warm water with a gentle detergent for five minutes. Then rinse them with warm water and lay them out flat to air dry.

5. Polyester

To clean polyester gloves (like many running gloves!), wash them in warm water with a gentle detergent in the washing machine, unless the care instructions on the tag says otherwise. If you’re unsure, soak them instead. Avoid the dryer and lay them out flat to air dry.

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