Keep Your Bike Gloves From Stinking

Tips to Keep Them Smelling Good

Bike gloves perform many helpful functions when you are riding. Not least among these is to help maintain your grip when your hands get sweaty.This is done by the gloves' ability to absorb perspiration, which would otherwise collect on your hands and on your handlebars.But because of that, your bike gloves can start to smell in a hurry if you don't take care of them, primarily due to the perspiration and the accompanying bacteria that collects there, creating the primary source of stinkiness in your gloves.   If you can get rid of that quickly, you solve most of the odor problems. Here's what to do to keep your gloves from smelling.

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Rinse Them After Every Ride

Bike Gloves
Bike Gloves. (c) Kate Lyons

The first thing you should do after a ride, particularly if you've sweated a lot and your gloves are damp, is to rinse out your gloves. You can do this by taking them off and letting water from a faucet run over them, both the palm side and on the back. Also being sure to turn them inside out as well to get them thoroughly clean. If you're pressed for time, simply leave them on your hands, again placing them under running water and doing a brief, gentle scrub, almost as if you were washing your bare hands.

Doing this will allow the perspiration and other funky stuff that has collected there to be flushed away. Your gloves will still be damp, but at least it will be with clean water. 

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Air Them Out Good

Bike gloves
Bike gloves airing out on a handlebar. David Fiedler

After you've rinsed them out, allow the gloves to air dry until they are ready to be used again.  A handy place for this is on the handle bars of your bike.  Stick the gloves on the ends of your bars. Not only will this keep them handy the next time you are ready to ride, but this will also allow for maximum air circulation.

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Rotate Between Pairs of Gloves

bike gloves
Daniel Oines/Flickr, used under CC

If you are riding consecutive days, or several times in the same day (such as a morning/evening commute to work or school) keeping two pairs of gloves and rotating between them will help as well.  Not only does this allow them to wear more evenly, but will also give the gloves the chance to dry more completely between uses.

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Wash Them Regularly

ivory soap

For an even more thorough cleaning, you can throw your bike gloves in with your other bike clothes going into the laundry, or even stick them in with the dishes and silverware in your dishwasher or sink. Mild detergent and a gentle cleaning action will do wonders to remove odors. Just remember to dry them thoroughly when done before wearing again. And air drying is best, rather than running them through a dryer. This will help prevent negative results on the special materials -- synthetics and sometimes leather -- that are sometimes used in bike gloves. 

Just in general it's best to avoid the dryer with bike clothes. Higher heat levels can set in odors and stains, fade colors and cause shrinking and loss of elasticity.

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Soak Them in Vinegar

Pryme Trailhands BMX Gloves.

For the full-on, no-holds-barred treatment for already stinky gloves, you can buy some white vinegar (available at just about any grocery store) and soak them in there overnight. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow to dry. The vinegar smell may linger or reappear when your gloves get damp from perspiration, but the scent is less offensive to most noses than the worst stink that can sometimes come from bike gloves, on the scale with the smell that comes from a hockey bag or football pads. 

Vinegar is one of those miracle cleaning agents and comes in handy in the laundry room in many different ways.

Closing Thoughts

Keeping your gloves odor-free is relatively easy. Just remember to rinse and/or wash them regularly and allow them to dry fully. The key is to get the dampness from perspiration out as quickly as possible when you're done riding.