How to Best Clean Smelly Golf Gloves

Golf gloves can start to smell bad over time from sweat, dirt, and bacteria buildup. Having smelly gloves is unpleasant and can be embarrassing. Luckily, there are several effective methods to clean smelly golf gloves and get rid of odors. With some simple cleaning techniques, you can freshen up your gloves and keep them smelling nice.

Why Do Golf Gloves Get Smelly?

There are a few reasons why golf gloves tend to develop unpleasant odors over time:


Sweat from your hands contains salts, amino acids, and bacteria. When sweat soaks into the glove material and dries, it leaves behind residue that causes odors. The more you sweat in the gloves, the worse the smell can get.

Dirt and Debris

Golf gloves come into contact with grass, dirt, sand, and other debris on the course. These materials get ground into the glove, creating a dirty environment where bacteria can thrive and produce bad smells.

Bacterial Buildup

Bacteria naturally live on your skin and multiply in warm, moist environments like inside a golf glove. As the bacteria grow, they produce sulfur compounds and other waste products that have distinct odors.

Improper Drying

Storing gloves while still moist allows odor-causing bacteria to rapidly multiply. Repeatedly using gloves without properly air drying between rounds makes smells worse.

Cleaning Methods to Remove Odors

There are several effective ways to clean golf gloves and get rid of stubborn odors. Using the right techniques and products can freshen up your smelly gloves and extend their usable lifespan.

Hand Wash

One of the simplest and most effective ways to clean gloves is by hand washing them. This helps wash away dirt, sweat residue, and bacteria that cause odors.

You’ll need:

  • Mild liquid detergent
  • Warm water
  • Soft brush (optional)


  1. Fill sink or basin with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent.
  2. Submerge gloves in the soapy water and gently scrub with fingers to dislodge dirt and debris. Use a soft brush to scrub stubborn areas.
  3. Rinse the gloves thoroughly under running water.
  4. Squeeze out excess moisture but do not wring tightly. The shape of the gloves should be maintained.
  5. Air dry completely before next use. Hanging upright or laying flat on a towel work well.

Hand washing with mild detergent helps freshen gloves and removes many odor causes without damage.

Vinegar Soak

White vinegar is a natural deodorizer that can help eliminate smells from gloves. Its acidic properties break down odor-causing bacteria and residue.

You’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Large bowl
  • Water


  1. Fill bowl with 2 parts warm water and 1 part white vinegar.
  2. Submerge gloves fully in the vinegar water solution.
  3. Let gloves soak for 20-30 minutes. The vinegar will start breaking down odors.
  4. Rinse thoroughly under running water.
  5. Squeeze out excess moisture.
  6. Air dry fully before next use.

The vinegar soak helps remove stubborn odors and disinfects the gloves. Rinsing well prevents any vinegar smell from lingering.

Baking Soda Scrub

For seriously smelly and soiled gloves, make a baking soda scrub. The abrasive texture of baking soda cleans away dirt, sweat, and oils.

You’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Warm water
  • Toothbrush or other soft brush


  1. Wet gloves thoroughly under warm running water.
  2. Apply a generous layer of baking soda onto both side of gloves. Rub over entire surface.
  3. Let baking soda sit for 5-10 minutes to begin deodorizing.
  4. Scrub gloves with a toothbrush or soft bristle brush.
  5. Rinse thoroughly when finished scrubbing.

The baking soda scrub exfoliates the glove surface and cleans out embedded dirt and residue. Thorough rinsing prevents any powdery residue from being left behind.

Disinfectant Spray

Using a disinfectant spray intended for sports equipment can eliminate unpleasant odors caused by bacteria. These sprays kill microbes that produce bad smells.

You’ll need:

  • Disinfectant spray made for sports gear


  1. Remove gloves and turn inside out. This exposes the interior to the disinfectant.
  2. Spray liberally over the entire glove surface. Ensure full coverage.
  3. Let gloves sit for 5 minutes to allow disinfectant to work.
  4. Air dry fully before wearing again.

The disinfectant spray reduces bacterial growth that leads to odors. Follow exact product instructions for desired results.

Freeze overnight

Freezing smelly gloves overnight can help destroy bacteria responsible for bad odors. The cold temperature kills microbes and stops additional odor production.

You’ll need:

  • Plastic bag
  • Freezer


  1. Place gloves in a sealable plastic bag. Squeeze out excess air.
  2. Put bag in freezer overnight. The long exposure to cold air freshens gloves.
  3. Remove frozen gloves in the morning and let thaw completely before wearing.

Freezing is a simple odor reduction method. Allow gloves to fully thaw and air dry after removing from freezer.

Preventing Future Odors

After cleaning smelly golf gloves, take steps to prevent odors from returning quickly:

  • Wash hands before wearing gloves to avoid transferring bacteria and oils.
  • Sprinkle gloves lightly with baking soda before storing to keep them fresher.
  • Rotate between several pairs of gloves to allow thorough drying between uses.
  • Remove gloves immediately after golfing and dry thoroughly before storage.
  • Replace heavily soiled or worn out gloves that hold odors.
  • Use a golf glove in conjunction with a hand towel to absorb excess sweat and oils during play.

With proper care and regular cleaning, your golf gloves can keep smelling fresh for many rounds. Implementing prevention habits makes deodorizing gloves less frequently necessary.

When to Replace Smelly Gloves

If a golf glove remains smelly even after thorough cleaning methods, it may need to be replaced. Signs that gloves should be discarded include:

  • Visible deterioration in the leather or material.
  • Permanent staining or discoloration.
  • Weakened or compromised fit and function.
  • Odors that persist strongly despite cleaning attempts.

Heavily soiled, well-worn gloves sometimes reach the end of their usable lifespan. Discarding and replacing them is better than struggling with gloves that don’t feel or perform well anymore.

Investing in multiple pairs of quality leather golf gloves prevents needing to use smelly, worn out ones before they can be replaced. Having backups ensures you always have an odor-free glove option ready.


Unpleasant glove odors can develop over time from sweat, dirt, bacteria, and improper care. With the right cleaning techniques, smelly golf gloves can be freshened up and restored for additional wear. Implementing prevention habits like rotating gloves, quick drying, and washing hands helps minimize odors as well. If gloves become too soiled or deteriorated, replacement is the best option. With the methods in this guide, your gloves will smell clean for many rounds of great golf.

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