Leather gloves can be a great investment – as long as the gloves are broken in.
Stiff, rigid gloves aren’t worth it; not only because they’re uncomfortable, but using the wrong type attributes to 30% of hand injuries. Generally, there are two popular materials used in leather gloves: goatskin and cowhide. Goatskin leather is commonly found in industrial gloves, while sports gloves, driving gloves and others are frequently made with cowhide. And while regular use is the best way to break in industrial gloves, there are a few alternatives for breaking in driving and sports gloves.
So, what’s the best way to break in a cowhide leather glove? Check out our tips and techniques straight from the hand safety experts.
4 Ways to Break In a Leather Glove
1. Leather Conditioner – Leather conditioner can help cowhide leather gloves last for years. Simply apply a small amount of commercially available leather conditioner to the gloves. If leather conditioner isn’t available, saddle soap is a viable substitute.
2. Rubbing Alcohol – Rubbing alcohol – a popular method among bull riders – can soften gloves. It’s easy too; simply apply alcohol to the outside leather surface. One thing to note; this method will need to be repeated every six months to ensure maximum flexibility, comfort, and dexterity.
3. Leather Oil – Leather oil is another alternative for breaking-in leather gloves, with the added bonus of waterproofing the material. Use a stiff brush to apply oil to the gloves every 3-6 months, which ensures the oil saturates the glove to the fullest. Just know; an oil-saturated glove will likely darken the leather, and might leave a trace smell for a short time. You’ll know when it’s time to re-oil the glove when water stops beading off the material.
4. Silicone Treatment – If you don’t have leather oil, silicone treatment is another option for adding water resistance to sports gloves. Applying 3M Scotchgard for leather won’t seal the seams, but it will add surface water resistance that’s effective in light rain.
How Not to Break In a Leather Glove
5. Hot Water – It may work for baseball gloves, but with high quality hand safety gloves, this method should be avoided. Not only can hot water ruin waterproofed materials, but it can also weaken the protective features of your leather glove, like TPR impact protection or Kevlar stitching.
6. Break-In Liquids & Ointments – Across the board, we recommend avoiding any type of break-in liquids or ointments. These typically require fully dipping the glove into liquids, but ultimately, end up ruining the safety features and long-term durability.
Bonus: One Last Way to Break In a Leather Glove
7. Bonus: Use It – Simple, straightforward – just use the glove. Wearing the glove often will stretch the leather, eventually molding to the shape of your hands.
But high quality leather gloves are designed to fit like … well, a glove. And some leather gloves will often feel broken in, despite being new, right out of the box. These kinds of leather safety gloves are designed to allow users to perform precise tasks, while also offering best-in-class protection from cuts, punctures, abrasions, and force impact.
What Makes a Glove Best in Class?
Download our best-in-class study brochure to learn how gloves are rated, and see exactly how the tests were performed.