If you're a baseball player, you might notice your baseball gloves getting hard and uncomfortable on your hand over long-term use. Baseball gloves are made out of leather, which can harden with sweat and other factors.
Oiling your glove regularly—before and after a game or practice—will significantly lengthen the equipment’s overall lifespan. A good baseball glove is an investment—so make sure not to neglect it.
This article will explain how to oil a baseball glove properly so that you can make it last.
Benefits of Oiling
There are multiple benefits that come with oiling your leather baseball gloves.
- Preventing cracking: Leather cracks over long-term use. Oiling your glove will significantly help mitigate this problem.
- Breaking in: A baseball glove takes some time to properly contour itself to your hand, giving you the best possible playing experience. Oiling your glove will speed up this process.
- Softening: Leather can get hard over long-term use. This will not only cause you discomfort on the field but will also affect your game.
- Longevity: If you want to use your baseball glove at its top performance for a long time, oiling your entire glove can greatly improve its life.
How to Oil a Baseball Glove
Follow the steps described below to properly oil your baseball or softball glove.
Picking the Oils
The first step is to know which oils to pick. Since your gloves are made out of leather, you cannot just use any oil on them.
Pick oils that are specifically made for leather items. While you can always buy baseball glove oils and glove conditioners from the shelf, some household items can be used for breaking in new gloves as well.
These items include baby oil, petroleum jelly, shaving cream, and saddle soap.
Just leaving a layer of oil on your glove will not help improve its lifespan. You have to make sure that the oil gets into all parts of the leather glove to achieve the best results.
Put some oil on the web between the thumb and the fingers, on the pocket, and on the palm of the glove. Rub the oil into the leather.
Repeat this step for the back of the glove as well, but not as often. While the leather on the front of your glove sees a lot more action, the back of it should not be ignored.
Make sure that the oil is spread evenly enough to leave a thin film on the leather. Too much of a good thing isn't necessarily good—and leaving globs of oil might actually affect your performance.
You can also use a clean cloth for this step if you do not want to get your hands dirty. Put some oil on a clean cloth and then rub it into the glove.
Oiling a glove is excellent for both breaking it in as well as improving its lifespan. Check out these videos on how to oil a baseball glove and how to break in a baseball glove to learn more about these steps.
Drying Your Glove
Do not start playing with your glove immediately after oiling it. You have to let your glove dry first.
The best way to do this is to oil your glove before bed. Leave it overnight, letting the oil soak into the leather. Storing it in a cool and dry place will make the process better.
While most oil will seep into the leather, there will be some left over. Use a clean cloth to remove this extra oil before you start playing.
Taking Care of the Pocket
The pocket of your glove is an essential component of the overall design. You need a properly formed, tight pocket that lets you catch a baseball with ease.
Playing catch with a baseball, eventually, will break the pocket in, but if you need a quicker way—you can use a baseball to give the glove pocket a proper shape. Opening and closing your hand repeatedly over the glove will ensure that the pocket gets formed properly.
Post Game Cleaning
Once you're back after an intense baseball game, cleaning and oiling the glove can help preserve the leather.
To clean the dirt off, use a clean cloth to rub it off. Do not use water on leather. When leather gets wet, the oil in the leather sticks to the water. As the water evaporates, it takes the oil with it. This causes the leather to dry out, turning it hard and inviting cracks.
Use a leather cleaner to clean your glove after a game. While you can always buy leather cleaner online, there are some natural ways in which you can clean leather. For instance, a 50-50 mix of vinegar and distilled water is a great leather cleaner.
Other options are natural oils like coconut, olive, or walnut that you can mix with lemon juice or warm water for a better cleaning experience. You can also use essential oils on your gloves.
If you want to learn more about these processes, check out this article on how to clean leather naturally.
This process should not be carried out too often. While keeping your leather glove clean and supple is a good thing, too much cleaning can cause the leather to break down more easily.
Follow the steps mentioned in the drying section of this article once you're done cleaning your glove.
What Not to Do
While oiling your glove can be a simple and straightforward process, there can be some mistakes that you might commit on the way that can cause more harm than good. In the next few sections, we will discuss what to avoid when you're oiling your glove.
Too Much Oil
Overuse of oil might seem to make the glove softer in the short run, but it will definitely cause it to break down faster.
Whether you're using oil to break in your glove or to clean it, make sure that you do not apply more than a thin film at a time, do not leave globs of oil on the surface, and wipe it off after a few hours of oiling.
This will give you the best experience when it comes to comfort and also improve the lifespan of your equipment.
While not every product will come with a warning that it is not fit for leather, do your research before you use any oil on your glove. While natural oils and essential oils can be good for your gloves, oils like white coconut oil or motor oil will darken the leather and cause damage.
Always read the labels of oil-based cleaners. Petroleum-based products, like jelly, are one of the traditional methods used in breaking in gloves.
A lot of people use a blow dryer to dry off their gloves. This is not advised and will definitely cause the glove to harden prematurely. The heat of a blow dryer is not good for your glove. It will evaporate the water, but also pull the good moisture out coming from the glove oil.
Make sure you store your glove in a cool, dry place and let it dry naturally instead of using a dryer on it.
This is another common method that people use for drying their gloves.
A microwave produces thermal energy in the water molecules present in the material. Putting your glove in the microwave will remove oil as well as water from it, drying out the leather. As mentioned earlier in this article, dried-out leather will have the tendency to crack and get ruined with use.
After you're done using your glove conditioning product, the best way to deal with it is to just leave it alone for a few hours before you use it again.
For professional and amateur baseball players alike, baseball-glove care should be an integral part of your routine. It will not only improve your experience on the field and give you a more comfortable fit on your hand—but also improve the overall life of your glove by taking care of the leather. It’s a worthwhile investment of time.
In this article, we learned about how to oil a baseball glove and the reasons why you should take some time out to do it periodically. If you're interested in similar topics about baseball and related equipment, please feel free to check out our other articles as well.