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How to clean vintage leather gloves

Updated February 21, 2017

Made of calfskin, kid leather, suede or a combination of leathers, vintage leather gloves may be plain, unadorned leather, or embellished with buttons and bows, lace, snaps, embroidery or beads. The gloves may be barely wrist length, mid-length, long enough to cover the elbows or extending up to the armpit. No matter the origin and style of your leather gloves, cleaning the gloves is the first step to keeping the gloves in tip-top condition.

Clean vintage leather gloves with a lanolin-based leather cleaner. Use a soft cloth or a soft brush to work the cleaner into the leather, according to the directions on the leather cleaner container. Remove the leather cleaner with a soft, dry cloth.

Condition the vintage leather gloves with mink oil. Use your hands to massage the mink oil thoroughly into the leather, as the warmth of your hands will enable the oil to penetrate the gloves, restoring the leather's natural suppleness.

Buff the leather gloves thoroughly with a soft, dry cloth. Continue to buff the gloves until you remove every trace of mink oil.

Clean dyed leather gloves with a mixture of half calcium bentonite and half powdered alum. Calcium bentonite, also known as Fuller's earth, is available for purchase at most health food stores. Alum is available in the spice section of most supermarkets.

Rub the calcium bentonite and alum mixture into the leather gloves. Allow the mixture to remain on the gloves for two hours.

Remove the mixture by brushing the gloves with a soft cloth. Buff the gloves thoroughly, then apply a leather conditioner according to the directions on the container. Use a leather conditioner appropriate for dyed leather.

Tip

Leather cleaner can be purchased at a tack shop, saddle shop, or speciality leather shop. Clean white kid leather gloves by rubbing soiled areas gently with a white gum eraser. Clean the eraser periodically by rubbing it on a piece of clean white paper. Store vintage leather gloves in a dry place. Wrap the gloves in white tissue paper, then place the gloves in a glove box or a plastic container with a tightly fitting lid. Proper storage will keep the leather gloves soft and smooth.

Things You'll Need

  • Lanolin-based leather cleaner
  • Soft cloth or brush
  • Mink oil
  • Calcium bentonite and powdered alum
  • White gum eraser
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About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.