Text and pictures by Eva

As both beginner and experienced beekeepers know, leather beekeeping gloves can get filthy after a season of bee work: covered in honey, propolis, and wax. In addition, dirty gloves may carry a heavy load of sting and alarm pheromones causing the bees extra stress. After researching and trying out various methods, we found that soaking and scrubbing with regular Dawn dish soap works the best.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Approximately two tablespoons of Dawn dish soap for soaking, plus at least one extra tablespoon to scrub them at the start of the process
  • Plastic bucket, bin, or tub
  • Cold water (It's very important to use cold water—not hot!)

Here's what to do:

  1. Fill your bucket or tub with enough cold water to completely cover your gloves (but don't put them in the water immediately).
  2. Add about two tablespoons of Dawn dish soap and give it a stir.
  3. Put your gloves on before getting them wet and, using the extra tablespoon of soap, rub them together (as if you are washing your hands). This helps to loosen and scrub away any surface dirt and grime.
  4. Now that you've scrubbed them, you can start the soaking process. Place your gloves in the tub and make sure they are saturated and submerged in the water.
  5. Leave your gloves soaking overnight.
  6. Rinse the gloves in clean water.
  7. To dry, just leave the gloves in the sun or use a clothesline.
  8. Before they are completely dry, put them on and flex your fingers to prevent some of the inevitable stiffness.
  9. Let them finish drying completely before storing.

It will take about a day in the sun for your gloves to dry. They're not going to look like new, but they will look a lot better. They may be a little stiff once they’re dry, but they will "break in" again with regular use.

Underside of boardDirty gloves before washing.
Underside of boardSame gloves after washing.