After purchasing a brand new pair of gardening gloves this week, I wanted to know how I could keep them clean. So, I did some reading to find out how to properly care for them after they have been used.
How do you wash gardening gloves? There are several ways to clean gardening gloves after spending some time in the garden. Cleaning will depend partly on the type of glove and the level of care they require. Normally cleaning can be done through the process of washing them with soap and water or simply brushing off the debris with something like a toothbrush.
Gardening gloves are one of the most important pieces of equipment that are used while taking care of a garden. They serve the purpose of protecting the gardener’s hands against injuries and direct contact with dirt and soil. In order to keep them intact, these tools require proper cleaning and maintenance after each use.
How Gardening Gloves Are Used
There are a lot of things that can happen to the fingers and hands while gardening in the absence of a sturdy pair of gloves. First of all, dirt can get under the fingernails and even break them without a barrier protecting them.
Since soil can be home to stray materials such as rocks, splinters, and other sharp objects, digging into the dirt with bare hands incurs a higher risk of getting cuts and splinter wounds.
These objects are often hidden within the dark and thick texture of the soil, and most of these injuries will come without any warning, so it is important to protect the fingers and hands against potential harm and infections.
Along with stray objects, soil also contains harmful chemicals and waste materials from living things that are distributed throughout it. Obviously, these materials are not visible to the human eye, so there is no way to explicitly avoid coming in contact with them unless gloves are protecting the hands.
Continuously gardening without wearing gloves can cause open cuts and lacerations on the fingers and hands to come in contact with bacteria from the earth and make the gardener more prone to infections as a result.
Bacterial infections are not the only things that can plague open wounds on the hands. There are several poisonous plants that can be found in nature that could be unrecognizable to the gardener. These plants could have also been chopped up by a mechanical gardening tool and distributed throughout the soil and unintentionally hidden even more. These type of plants can cause rashes and other adverse reactions when they come in direct contact with the skin.
If the gardener has an allergy to a specific kind of plant or other substance that might be sifted throughout the soil, equal harm can be inflicted on them in the absence of gardening gloves.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing the right pair of gardening gloves to suit your needs. Some of the most popular materials used in the best gardening gloves include leather, cotton, nitrile, and rubber or latex.
The types of gloves that have the most sales among gardeners are latex and rubber. Out of the wide range of choices available on the market for gardening glove materials, these are the most cost-effective choices.
The stretchy material allows the gardener to comfortably fit their hand or arm through the glove with no sizing issues. Gloves made of latex or rubber are ideal for tasks such as watering plants or sifting through wet soil with the hands due to their water-resistant properties.
Leather gloves are made up entirely of leather and are perfect for dealing with plants and flowers that might have splinters or sharp objects around them. The thick and tight material protects the hands from puncture wounds and open cuts. This type of glove comes in shorter designs that cover the hands and wrists, as well as longer ones that extend all the way to the elbow.
The ideal type of glove for each gardener will depend on the actions they are tasked with in order to keep their garden healthy and in good standing. For example, someone who has a small rose garden would most likely wear the shorter leather gloves, whereas the longer gloves would be ideal for someone who must frequently reach their entire arm through a prickly maze of plants daily.
Cotton gloves, on the other hand, are made of a softer and more delicate material. When thinking of a cotton gardening glove, consider the average cotton t-shirt. As a result, these types of gloves are most commonly used to carry out simple maintenance tasks throughout the garden rather than the act of actually planting it.
The ideal situation for wearing cotton gardening gloves would be trimming branches on existing plants or picking flowers out of the garden.
Lastly, nitrile gloves are chemically coated with a material made of ruby called nitrile. The coating on the surface of the gloves makes them extremely durable and flexible to the hand. For this reason, nitrile gloves are most often used by gardeners when they are operating garden tools.
Washing Cotton Gloves
Each type of garden glove will go through a specific cleaning process based on the material it is made of. Cotton gloves, to begin, are best cleaned with soap and water. This can be done outside directly after gardening using the hose or the gloves can be taken inside to be washed in the kitchen or laundry room sink.
It is much easier to keep the gloves on while doing this and simply wash them as you normally would.
This should be done immediately after the gardening tasks have been completed to avoid permanent stains to the gloves, especially if the cotton is a lighter color that can appear dirty when the soil sits on them for too long.
Since cotton is the same material that most clothing is made of, this type of glove is able to be thrown into the washing machine to finish up the cleaning process. To prevent the gloves from shrinking, you should wash them in cold water. Any kind of laundry detergent that is used on clothes can be used to clean cotton gardening gloves.
If there are visible stains on the surface of the gloves, they can be sprayed with a spot treatment before being tossed into the washing machine. This is especially helpful for visible stains on light colored gloves and should sit on them for about 10 minutes prior to washing for the most effective stain removal.
Instead of drying them with the rest of your laundry, cotton gloves should be hung up or laid out somewhere with an adequate flow of air to prevent the material from shrinking. This is an important step to follow, because the way a garden glove fits the hand is vital, and should not be too loose or too tight.
Washing Leather Gloves
Leather gloves will go through a completely opposite cleaning process than cotton gloves. Due to the leather material, this type of glove will require more detailed and specific care.
After the gloves have already been used to complete the gardening tasks they were needed for, the remaining soil and dirt should be brushed off. This can be done with a designated household toothbrush or a special leather cleaning brush with soft bristles. Alternatively, the soil can be brushed off with your hands to avoid any scratching or damage to the surface of the leather from frequent brush strokes.
The best material that can be used to clean leather gardening gloves is something called saddle soap. Saddle soap can be found at your local hardware or home improvement store and will usually come in a round tin container. To use the soap, you will need a damp cloth or paper towel to apply it to.
The soap on the cloth or towel should then be applied to the leather in gentle, circular motions. If this step does not successfully remove all of the dirt at once, you can put one of the gloves on your hand and work the saddle soap into the leather that way instead. This step should be done until all of the dirt on the surface of the glove has been lifted off or removed.
Next, the soap will need to be removed from the gloves using water. However, the gloves should never be fully submerged in water or placed under a running faucet. Instead, you will need a separate cloth or towel that is slightly damp, not wet. This new towel will be used to wipe the soap off of the glove to avoid water damage to the leather material.
At this point, the dirt and debris should be fully removed from both gloves and they should appear clean. If not, the washing and rinsing processes can be repeated until this is done. The gloves will then be set out to air dry in an open area.
They should not be placed anywhere near any kind of heat source or flame to avoid cracking to the surface of the leather. During the process of drying the gloves, you should put them on your hand to keep them adequately stretched so they will still fit you the next time you need them.
Lastly, the cleaned and dried leather gloves should be treated with a special oil to help them maintain their quality and shape. The best oils to use for this step are linseed oil, mink oil, or any other combination of oils that are specifically for leather.
Just like the soap and water, the oils should be applied with some kind of cloth to gently coat the leather. This will sit on the surface for a few minutes before it is further massaged into the gloves with a dry area of the towel or cloth.
Washing Rubber, Latex, and Nitrile Gloves
In order to clean rubber gloves that are soiled with dirt, you will want to rinse them off under a hose or interior faucet similar to the cotton gloves. Rubber gloves, however, are more prone to stains and caking on the surface, so they must be washed off promptly after they have been used. The best water temperature to use while caring for rubber gardening gloves is cold to avoid any damage or permanent alterations to the material.
The easiest way to wash rubber gloves is not much of a variation from any other material. They can be cleaned off while they are still on the hands, and should use a combination of both soap and running water to get most of the dirt and stains off. In order to cut through thick stains, a dishwashing soap will be the most effective.
In the event that the gloves have acquired any tough stains that were not removed by the first wash, they can be scrubbed out with a cleaning brush. This can be done with any kind of household or outdoor brush with durable bristles that won’t scratch or tear the rubber.
When the surface of the rubber gloves have finally been cleaned and there are no more stains, they must be air dried in a location where they can receive fresh air. An ideal place for them to dry would be outside near the garden in a shaded area.
Since rubber can easily accumulate mildew when it comes in contact with water, it is increasingly important to give these types of gloves adequate time to dry evenly in all areas. If they do not properly air dry, they will begin to collect mildew and will eventually have to be thrown out.
Even after rubber gardening gloves have been thoroughly cleaned and dried, they should be put away in a location with no moisture or risk of getting wet to avoid unintentional mildew growth.
Gardening gloves that are coated with nitrile materials should follow the same care instructions as rubber and latex gloves. Nitrile gloves can be washed with a gentle dishwashing liquid and should always be hung up to air dry immediately following the cleaning process.
Regardless of the specific material that your gardening gloves are made of, it is important to always make sure they are clean and well taken care of. The presence of leftover soil from gardening tasks can cause future problems that will limit the functions of the gloves.
A collection of dirt on the surface of most types of gardening gloves will stiffen the material and restrict the gardener from moving freely, especially with gloves that are made of a delicate material such as leather.
Since the use of gloves is a necessary measure that must be taken to protect the hands and fingers from injuries while gardening, it is equally as necessary to keep them in clean and working condition to ensure they can be used for a long time after they are purchased.
How often should gardening gloves be washed?
Every pair of gardening gloves should be washed immediately after they are used in order to prevent permanent stains or damage to the gloves. They should also be properly cared for with any kind of special treatment they require to maintain their shape and elasticity. Leather gloves, for example, should be coated with oils directly after they are cleaned and dried to keep the quality in perfect condition.
How should a garden glove fit on the hand?
The way a pair of garden gloves fit on the hand is very important to consider before purchasing them. The ideal sizing of a garden glove will leave enough room for the hands and fingers to move around without being too small or too big.
If a garden glove is too large for the hand and gives it too much space while working, the gaps between the material and the fingertips are more likely to get caught in various garden equipment and fly off while tasks are being completed. Gloves that are too large can also shift around too frequently and make it harder for the gardener to get a good grip on their plants and hand tools.
Alternatively, a glove that fits too tightly onto the hand can come with even more problems and potential dangers. If there is no space between the gloves’ material and the fingertips, the gardener will feel restricted and might not be able to do complete their tasks comfortably.
The specific amount of space that exists in the perfect garden glove serves to protect the fingertips from direct injuries that could come with sharp objects piercing through tight gloves as well as more severe harm that could be caused by a large glove being removed from the hand during a dangerous task.
What is the average price of a sturdy pair of gardening gloves?
A good pair of gardening gloves can be found online for a relatively low price, depending on the brand and material. Just like any other product, the price will increase with quality. In short, the average price for a pair of gardening gloves is around $20.