This article originally appeared on BaseballMonkey.com
Baseball and softball gloves are an important part of being a great player. It isn't enough to just buy a glove, wear it on the field and hope it does its job. You need to break your glove in, take care of it, condition it and maintain it so it extends beyond just a single season. It isn't just about the cosmetics of a new glove—properly caring for your fielding glove will ensure you realize if it's in danger of breaking down when you need it the most.
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Why You Need to Clean Your Glove
Proper baseball glove care is essential to ensuring your glove lasts longer than just one season. Keep in mind that gloves are made of tough and durable organic leather, but they're vulnerable to deterioration if not properly maintained.
Going through an entire season not caring for your glove will turn your investment into one that's guaranteed not to last long. And let's face it, once you spend the time it takes to break in your glove, the last thing you want to do is have to start the whole process over again.
How to Clean Your Baseball Glove
If you don't know any better, you may think cleaning a baseball glove is as simple as wiping off the excess dirt that builds up, but if you want to learn how to clean a baseball glove the right way, there are some tools that you can use to help. Those tools include:
- Cotton rag or terry cloth
- Leather-safe cleaner (it's important to avoid using cleaner that's made for saddles or shoes, as these leave a slick surface that may gunk up on the exterior or interior of your glove)
- Glove conditioner (only those approved for use on baseball and softball gloves)
- Rubbing alcohol
The process to clean a glove is simple and can be completed as follows:
- Remove excess dirt and debris from your fielding glove using a brush or piece of cloth.
- Using leather safe cleaner and a soft cloth, wipe off any dirt that still remains.
- Use the conditioner to moisturize the glove. You want to apply the conditioner lightly and work it into the glove. Make sure not to use too much, as it could build up over time. This will weigh the glove down and will actually become a home for dirt and debris to gather as well. While conditioning, be sure to get between the fingers as much as possible. This will help prevent the leather from deteriorating.
How to Properly Store Your Glove
One of the greatest mistakes a player can make is not knowing how to store a baseball glove properly. Sometimes players just toss their glove in a closet or in the garage, or maybe they leave it in their bat bag for long periods of time.
Taking care to store your glove the proper way, both during the season and during the off season, will ensure it's ready to go when the next spring rolls around. Follow these ultimate baseball glove storage tips to keep your glove in the best condition:
- During the off-season: In the winter months, store your glove in a cool, dry place, or even at room temperature. You should never leave it in your equipment bag, near a heater, or outside for extended periods of time.
- Keep your glove dry: If your glove gets wet during game play or due to any other circumstances, use a clean absorbent rag to dry it off and then let it dry naturally. The leather will become a little stiff, but this can be remedied with conditioner after it has dried.
- Clean and condition: Use approved conditioners—don't spit in the glove. This will only contribute to it drying out.
- Store with a ball: You should keep a ball rolled in the glove during the off months to keep the pocket shaped.
It's worth noting that keeping a glove in the bed of a truck or trunk of a car and exposing it to extreme sun and heat can contribute to the breaking down of the leather and laces quickly. If you notice a lace has begun to rip or crack, you will want to re-lace the glove before using it in a game again or else risk it breaking, possibly leading to injury. If you do need to re-lace your glove, check out our guide on how to repair your glove.
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