SMELLY BOXING GLOVES? There is good and bad news.

Written by Richard Davis owner at Ringsport

Boxing gloves are needed to protect a fighter’s hands and an opponent’s face from injuries during training or a fight, the problem with boxing gloves is that they get wet during training from the sweat from a boxer’s hands. Boxing or Muay Thai gloves can get very damp and over time very smelly because of bacteria that is created. The only reason that boxing gloves get smelly is moisture and dampness caused by sweating which stays in the glove if the gloves are not dried out and treated well.

There is one rule and one rule only for stopping your gloves from getting smelly!


The Bad news is once your gloves get very smelly (Critical smelly) there is not much you can really do other that get a new pair.

If your gloves are not too bad or just starting to get a little smelly , you can try some of the many suggested ways and I am sure you have read about them, like Apple cider vinegar, Anti-Bacterial Spray, Baking Soda, Saltwater Soak ???, Newspaper stuffing and washing in a washing machine (Never do this! ) Most don’t work at all and some actually make it worse. Some of these methods will cover up the smell but it will soon come back.

There are different levels of the smell and it won’t matter what you do you once the smell is at what I call “Critical” level will not get rid of the smell. The smell that makes your hand stink after you use the glove, the smell some people get used to, but training partners can’t stand. Buying some new gloves is what you need to do, treat yourself to a new set and see your motivation for training lift.

The good news is some gloves are less susceptible to getting smelly than others, the main reasons are listed below, think about these points before you buy your next boxing gloves. 

  1. Material
  2. Design features
  3. Hand wraps
  4. Use frequency
  5. Storage
  6. Glove deodorisers


Always opt for quality natural leather gloves which breathe and allow the moisture to escape more are by far a better option when buying gloves if you don’t want the gloves to get smelly. For those who prefer synthetic material which, although has in some cases have become better quality and more durable than in the past, it still has the tendency to get smelly very quickly. 

Design features

Mesh - Mesh inserts help to keep your hands cooler, the glove drier and allow the gloves to dry out faster once damp. Breathable mesh inserts are sewn into the glove palms and some times in the inner thumb area to help with airflow in and around the glove. This helps the boxer’s hands stay cooler and drier while training. Getting hot hands means more sweat especially in some northern parts of Australia.

The mesh allows the air flow during training and also after when the gloves are off and hanging on the outside of the bag drying. 

Thumb air holes -Most quality boxing gloves, will have air breathing holes punched at the end of the inner thumb area or along the length of the thumb on the inside, very simple and most effective. These holes let small amounts of air in and out of the thumb area allow the thumb area to stay a little cooler and by letting air circulate around the area.

See examples of mesh in palm and thumb air holes.

                  Mesh palm on boxing glove

Mesh in palm and 4 air holes in thumb


                           Boxing gloves with mesh in palm and thumb holes      

Use frequency-If you only use your gloves 2 times per week and keep them outside your bag when not in use then smell should not be a problem. If you use your gloves  3 or more times a week then smell is more of an issue. Having 2 pairs of gloves is one way to combat the smell onset. First thing is have a separate set of gloves for bag work and pad work, usually a smaller 10oz or 12oz training gloves or even cheap bag mitts. Then use a pair of 16oz for partner work and sparring.

This will help the gloves to not get too wet, making them easier to dry out between uses. The glove's foams in the sparring gloves will last 2 to 3 times longer and actually save you money in the long term, as sparring gloves are usually more expensive than bag gloves.

Use Hand Wraps

Always use hand wraps during all training sessions, not only to protect your hands but keep your gloves fresher. Hand wraps put a barrier between your sweaty hands and help to keep the sweat from infiltrating the glove foam. This helps but you will need to keep the hand wraps clean, as the wraps can get smelly and also start to stink.

Use boxing gloves stink preventors - Fuminators inside your gloves

  • NATURAL – Made from non-toxic, eco friendly bamboo charcoal.
    ABSORBS MOISTURE – Bamboo charcoal is a highly porous material which is effective in removing moisture – preventing odour.
    RE-USABLE – Place the FUMINATOR pouches inside your gloves after using and leave them overnight.
    RE-ACTIVE – For longer life of FUMINATOR, place it in the sun once a month for one or two hours to recharge – for up to 1 year.
            Boxing glove stink stopper

Prevention is the best - and only way to stop a glove getting smelly is to keep it as dry as possible.

Wear hand wraps-Always wear hand wraps, this will help support and protect your hands and also your boxing gloves or bag gloves, the wraps absorb a lot of the sweat and stop the transfer of the moisture to the glove. 

Get the gloves out of your gym bag as soon as possible -Leave your gloves out of your bag altogether. Hang your gloves on the bag strap by attaching your Velcro straps together and hanging them through the bag handle. The more air they get the better, so if you can transport your gloves outside your gym bag, do it. 

Use a blow dryer-If you have a lot of training within a short time and need to dry your gloves out quickly, a hair dryer is a good way to do it. Make sure you use a blow dryer with a cool setting, as heat can damage the gloves and harden the leather. 


Rival d30 bag gloves below have mesh palms and thumb              

Rival RB10 bag gloves with mesh palm and thumb


Some Methods To Clean Your Gloves That Others Recommend:

Use Anti-Bacterial Spray To Kill Germs

You can stop germ and bacteria build up within your boxing gloves by applying anti-bacterial spray. If your gloves have become too dirty and have developed a thick stench, you will need to give them a spray to remove all the bacterial build-up. After spraying, you should hang your gloves in the sun or where there is some fresh air. This will freshen them up for your next training session. You can clean your boxing gloves regularly with this method.

The Stuffing Method

Another method you can use to clean your gloves is to stuff them with “glove dogs.” These are small cotton bags filled with cedar chips that draw the bacteria out of the glove and restore their freshness, leaving them smelling fresh and clean. Stuffing with glove dogs absorbs all the excess moisture in your gloves and dries them out. This is one of the most effective methods of cleaning and preventing the buildup of smelly bacteria. It also increases the lifespan of your gloves.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is effective for cleaning boxing gloves, as well as shoes, gym bags, punching bags, etc. Follow these methods to clean your boxing gloves using apple cider vinegar:

  • Put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in your hand.
  • Rub this into the inside of the gloves.
  • Dry the gloves overnight and the stink should be gone in the morning.
  • For extra dirty, smelly gloves, a few extra applications of vinegar may be necessary.
  1. Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is commonly used for cooking, but boxers, fighters and trainers use it to clean and deodorize their gloves, too. To clean boxing gloves with baking soda, you will need a pair of old socks, baking soda and some paper towels.

  • Wipe the outside and inside of gloves with paper towels.
  • Put baking soda into two socks and tie a knot in each to keep the soda from falling out.
  • Put the socks in the gloves and leave them overnight.

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