How to Clean Welding Gloves

There’s no doubt that welding gloves are essential protective gear. But to keep these gloves long-lasting and efficient, you have to clean them regularly. Cleaning welding gloves is an easy procedure, but it is important that it is done correctly to maintain protection. 

Read on for a step-by-step guide to thoroughly and safely cleaning your welding gloves. We will address the steps necessary for before, during, and after a wash.

Before you Wash your Welding Gloves

Washing your welding gloves requires a little preparation. If you are looking for a thorough clean- more than just a dry towel wipe down- there are several steps to take before you get started. 

Determine Your Welding Glove Material

Welding gloves are designed to be several things, including:

  • Fire resistant
  • Durable
  • Flexible
  • Waterproof

These attributes are achieved by the materials used in welding gloves. Welding gloves are usually one of two materials: leather or synthetic. 

Leather Welding Gloves

The most popular welding gloves are made of leather. This material is good at dispersing heat while maintaining toughness, flexibility, and water resistance. 

These leather gloves may be one of several types of leather, including:

  • Cowhide
  • Sheepskin
  • Goatskin
  • Pigskin

Most of these leathers are cleaned with the same method. Your work gloves will identify the materials they contain on the packaging. 

If you don’t have the packaging, simply look them up online or take them into a ranch supply, feed, or home improvement store, and the associates will be able to assist you.

Welding Gloves Made of Synthetic Material

These gloves are less common, but for vegans or those with contact allergies, synthetic welding gloves are the best choice. 

The most common and most effective synthetic material for welding gloves is Kevlar. These gloves can be more expensive than regular leather but provide outstanding heat protection and last a long time.

Clean Your Gloves First to Remove Chemicals

If your welding gloves are filthy, or have large amounts of visible debris (metal, cleaners, etc.), it is a good idea to do a “rough” clean before getting them into the cleaning solution.

One option is to wipe your gloves down with a dry cloth, and this can be done while you are wearing them (for extra protection for the chemicals) or once they have been removed.

Another option is to use a brush, like a toothbrush or soft-bristled wire brush, to get some of the bigger chunks of debris off the gloves. This will ensure that the larger pieces are removed, and you will get a more thorough clean.

Washing Your Welding Gloves

Here you have one of two options. You can wear the gloves as you wash them, or you can take them off and wash them one at a time.

Do not use a washing machine or dryer when cleaning leather gloves; this heat and movement can stretch and warp the gloves.

Washing Leather Welding Gloves

Leather gloves can be cleaned with a variety of solvents, depending on the level of grime. The most popular and well-reviewed option is saddle soap.

Saddle soap is made specifically to clean dirt and grime off of leather products, welding gloves included.

If wearing while you wash, simply get the gloves wet with cold water and apply a small amount of saddle soap to the gloves’ palm. Work the saddle soap around the gloves as if you were washing your hands while wearing the gloves. 

On areas with heavier grime, work the soap into a lather and let it sit for 30-45 seconds.

To remove the dirty lather, utilize a damp, clean towel to wipe off the gloves. You can also rinse the gloves with cold water in a utility sink.

Be careful not to rinse large debris down your kitchen or bathroom sink. A garden hose outside can also work well to rinse the gloves.

Coldwater is important here because it will not interfere with the size of the glove. Hot water will allow for stretch in the leather and may impact the fit of your gloves. 

Note: Do not use dish soap, as this will strip the natural oils from the gloves and leave them brittle.

Washing Synthetic Welding Gloves

If you have chosen to invest in a synthetic material for your welding gloves, the methods of cleaning them will vary. The most popular and effective synthetic material is Kevlar, and it is also simple to clean.

Kevlar is resistant to shrinking, so warm or hot water can be used to clean this material.

Simply wear or hold the gloves as described above, but you can utilize hot water and a basic laundry detergent for similar results. Powder and liquid detergent will both work but use only a few drops.

Kevlar gloves can be washed in the washing machine and then tumble-dried in the dryer on a low heat setting but should not be kept at temperatures over 400 degrees for an extended period of time.

Note: Do not use bleach on Kevlar, as it can damage the fibers and ruin the efficacy.

After you’ve Washed your Welding Gloves

After the gloves have been washed, there are important next steps to take to make sure that you maintain quality, safety, and fit. This includes:

  • Washing your hands
  • Keeping the gloves malleable
  • Storing the gloves safely 

Wash Your Hands After Washing Your Welding Gloves

This may seem like an extra and unnecessary effort, but if you had gotten water inside your gloves while washing and wearing them, the contaminants from the outside of the gloves are now on your skin.

If you washed your work gloves by hand (without wearing a second set of protective gloves), your hands also now have been contaminated with whatever was on the gloves. 

Be sure to wash and dry your hands after you’ve finished washing your gloves to avoid chemical or other debris (metal shavings, fiberglass, etc.) irritating your skin.

Maintain the Softness of Your Welding Gloves

If at all possible, wear your leather welding gloves as they dry. This will ensure a fit that molds to your hands, resulting in the highest level of comfort. 

If you are unable to wear the gloves as they dry, keep them supple by massaging them as they dry. Leather, cowhide in particular, will stiffen if left alone to dry. 

If you are unable to do either of these and you find yourself with stiff and uncomfortable welding gloves, there are options.

  • Soak your gloves in lukewarm (not hot) water before using.
  • Put them on and dry them while wearing them.
  • Let them continue to dry as you work.

The resulting change will be immediately noticeable. The rigid material will have softened as they dried and also remained flexible and comfortable. 

After washing and drying, applying a leather conditioner like this can help keep the leather supple and smooth, but it is not required.

Store Your Welding Gloves Appropriately

Welding gloves, no matter the material, should be stored in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight and other harsh chemicals. High heat and direct sun can cause the material to:

  • Bleach
  • Fade
  • Harden

These factors will all affect the gloves’ ability to protect your skin and can compromise safety as well as longevity.

The Importance of Cleaning Welding Gloves

Taking care of your welding gloves, along with other personal protective equipment, is paramount in maintaining a safe work environment. 

With a few simple steps, you can increase the lifespan of your welding gloves while preserving comfort and versatility.

If you liked this article, have a look at my other articles I wrote about the topic!

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Alexander Berk

A bit about myself: I am a certified international welding engineer (IWE) who worked in different welding projects for TIG, MIG, MAG, and Resistance Spot welding. Most recently as a Process Engineer for Laser and TIG welding processes. To address some of the questions I frequently got asked or was wondering myself during my job, I started this blog. It has become a bit of a pet project, as I want to learn more about the details about welding. I sincerely hope it will help you to improve your welding results as much as it did improve mine.

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