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Baseball gloves are among the most essential tools in a player’s arsenal, amateur or professional ballers. Though gloves are made out of leather and are therefore incredibly tough, they will become susceptible to deterioration if they are not taken care of. Believe it or not, an essential step in glove care is cleaning it regularly and properly.
Saddle soap is the best product to use in cleaning your baseball glove. The actual process itself is straightforward. Put a little of the saddle soap onto a clean rag. Rubbing the rag in circles and a bit of pressure, work the soap into every area of the glove. Then take a clean rag and remove the excess saddle soap and the dirt and grease it pulled out.
Of course, the actual cleaning is a bit more nuanced than that, but the actual process is that simple. So simple, there is no reason not to do it. There is no reason to neglect essential glove maintenance, as it is straightforward and will not consume much of your time.
Remember, if you show your baseball glove some care, then it will last you longer. Though often new toys are exciting, you will find that most ballplayers do not want to replace their gloves that often. It takes a while to break in a new glove and to get it to that perfect point for you.
Why Clean Your Glove?
Of course, there are people out there asking why you would clean your baseball glove at all. It is an outdoor piece of sporting equipment, isn’t it supposed to be dirty and beat up? No, it most definitely is not.
See, gloves are made out of leather. Though one of the most durable materials in existence, leather still needs to be taken care of to last. So make sure when cleaning your glove, you use the proper tools.
- Do Use
- Do NOT Use
- Shaving Cream
- Dish Soap
- Dirty rags or sponges
The Entire Cleaning and Conditioning Process
Of course, saddle soap and getting dirt out of your glove is not the only step in the process. Below we will outline the entire process from cleaning to conditioning. Following these steps will ensure that your favorite glove stays usable for years to come.
- First: Gather The Right Tools – This is an obvious statement, or so you would think. However, it is not as apparent as you feel. Either way, keep in mind – the baseball glove is not just a toy or a fashion statement; it is a tool.
The leather in baseball gloves is expected to perform and be put up to abuse day after day. Therefore taking care of your glove’s leather properly, often, and with the right tools is essential. You will need:
This is it. If you have vasoline or shaving cream after a quick google search, please, rest assured YOU ARE NOT READY TO CLEAN YOUR GLOVE. Once you have gathered the right tools, you are ready to move on.
1. Apply Saddle Soap: AKA Degreasing – This is the next step in the process. Though it is referred to as degreasing, it is cleaning your glove. You need to apply a small amount of saddle soap to one of the dry, clean rags.
Cleaning the glove thoroughly and correctly is vital. After putting the soap onto a clean and dry rag, you need to work the saddle soap into a baseball mitt in a circular motion. Put slight pressure onto the rag, and keep it steady.
Work the soap over the entire glove, not just the palm. You need to make sure to get the pocket of the glove and the fingers, including in between them. Also, be sure to really hit the stitching and the knots.
Once you have covered the entire glove with saddle soap, you will need to get a new clean, dry rag. You need to use it to wipe off the soap. The saddle soap will also have pulled the dirt and grease in the glove up to the top of the leather, and the rag will clean this off too.
Remember that if you do not wipe the dirt, grease, and excess soap off of the glove, it can all soak back in. If you don’t do the wipe off a portion and then condition the glove, you will merely be rubbing everything you cleaned about in.
If your glove is really bad, then you can feel free to repeat this step. However, do not repeat it too often; over cleaning and degreasing can dry the leather out too much, causing more harm than good.
2. Sitting Period – Once you are entirely done, set the glove aside. You will want to let it rest for a day or two, even up to three. This is to let the glove leather breathe. Be sure not to put it in direct sunlight or any UV light.
If you want to during this period, you can begin the breaking in process very carefully. You can work the glove by bending or folding it, but be gentle as you do it. The saddle soap works as a bit of a conditioner for the leather. However, it is not as practical or useful as a real baseball glove oil, so be careful not to overwork it.
3. Conditioning Period – After a sitting period, its time for you to use conditioner on the leather of your glove now. First, pick out the conditioner – glove oil – that you prefer. Get the conditioner and either a clean rag or a clean, dry sponge.
Put a small amount of onto your sponge or rag. Do not use a lot of the conditioner, nor should you apply the conditioner directly onto the glove. Do not use any real amount of pressure, and do not rub the glove. Dabbing is the best way to apply the conditioner onto the glove.
4. Second Sitting Period – Time to wait again. Once you have put the conditioner all over your glove, you will want to let it sit again. It takes time for the conditioner to soak into the glove thoroughly and work its way into every area to make it softer.
Set your baseball glove where it is warmer will help the oils to work into the glove. Be sure again not to put the glove in any UV light. Gently rolling, folding, and forming the glove at this point will also help the oil work its way around the glove.
5. Re-Dab – If you think that your glove is really in rough shape, or if it has been a while since you have cleaned and conditioned the glove, you may want to have another round of dabbing and conditioning.
That is it. After the last waiting period, you are all set to go. You have a clean and conditioned glove that is ready to last you for years. Remember, cleaning and conditioning your glove is essential, but it is not something you want to do too often.
Is Your Glove Worth Cleaning?
A nice worn-in glove is irreplaceable. Honestly, most real players hate having to get a brand new glove because breaking it in is a lot of work. Understandably, you delay getting a new one as long as possible, but at some point, your glove may be beyond repair.
Look at your glove. You should be able to tell if cleaning and conditioning your glove is going to be worth it or not. If your mitt is in terrible condition, there will be only one solution – buy a new one.
If your glove’s leather is extremely beaten up, cracked and torn, it is likely the glove is beyond repair with the lacing coming undone. If the padding in your glove is almost completely gone and your glove is flaking on the inside, then there is no sense in trying to save it.
On the other hand, there are plenty of ways to restore leather. If the glove is badly cracked and torn, you may want to send the glove out to professionals. When a glove is too far gone, it is best to entrust it to people who fix them for a living.
If the padding is gone on your glove, do not give in to the temptation to use leather filler. The filler is not enough to restore a glove to proper working use. It will not stand up to the abuse a glove is put under regularly.
Can you wash a leather baseball batting glove?
Yes. You can use lukewarm water, brushes, detergent or soap, clean and dry cloths, and maybe even a washing machine. It will depend on the kind of glove and other material. Please follow the directions on your batting gloves.