While looking through her Thirties pattern magazines, Jennifer Knox came across an article on glove care she just had to share. Here is some great, original Thirties advice on how to wash your gloves.

I love white gloves but am always worried about ruining them when I clean them.  I have a bunch of white leather gloves that were my great aunt Helen’s, and am planning on making them really white again in the next few days.  The article I found is from the October 1935 issue of Das Blatt der Hausfrau.  Here’s my (loose) translation of the article:

I once heard how in a Berlin streetcar a young woman was called “provincial” because she was wearing lily-white, clean gloves!  The speaker hid her own gloves so that she couldn’t see them, and she could hardly live up to the ideal the big city dweller had spoken of, where cleanliness also has its place, in spite of her criticism.  A clean glove is simply the completion of a thoroughly clean person! And this observation is also correct:  nothing gets dirty as quickly as our hand’s clothing, and washing and taking care of it takes a little more of our time than most city people have on a workday.

However, our gloves should be sparkling clean! Cloth gloves (silk, cotton, wool) can be handled exactly as other clothing from this material: washed in lukewarm water, layed out on towels, and dried.  When they’re damp they can be ironed under fabric with a warm iron.

Cleaning leather gloves, which are worn most often because their durability,  is a little more difficult.  Wash leather gloves, as their name implies,  are resistant to water and can be washed without a second thought.  One prepares a mild soap bath and separated into three bowls.  Then one washes the gloves twice and rinses them in the last bath, to which a little pure oil or glycerine has been added.  The gloves remain softer when they aren’t rinsed in clean water and the soap stays in the leather.

Don’t rub the leather, but press only between the hands.  Then blow into the gloves strongly, which gives them the correct form and press them dry.  Then they should be hung up, or put them over a glove form.  Rub the dry leather lightly with the hands or brush them with a clean brush a few times against and with the grain.

The original article in German

Suede can be handled exactly like this.  With dyed gloves, you should try to prolong putting them in (water) and handle the gloves dry.  One rubs dirty, shiny areas with glass paper and brushes them, but not with a hard brush.  Also when they are dirty with gasoline or are soaked in stain remover, one must rub them with glass paper again.  What is best is to put the gloves on your hands, then you can feel how far you can go with the glass paper.

With suede gloves you see light clouds when they are washed in a soap bath.  You can avoid this when you press them dry between two towels and leave them in for a time while kneading and rubbing them with the hands. What’s even better is when you avoid washing them in water totally and wash them in a gasoline bath.  Lay them in warm gasoline and press them well in it.  You must never bring the gasoline in a room where there is fire:  warm it by putting it in an open container,and putting the container in a bowl of hot water.

Glace kid gloves are prone to water damage, as they are tanned with water soluble agents.  To clean them put them on your hands and rub them with a damp flannel cloth that has either been soaked in gasoline, or soaked in a soap-bath and wrung out, so that it doesn’t hold any more water.  Then rub the gloves dry on the hand with a soft rag.  Very dirty gloves can be cleaned in a gasoline bath, just as was recommended for suede. In this way they can also be cleaned inside.

Pig leather gloves must always be treated with gasoline and then rubbed shiny again.  However, you can also, just like suede, clean them regularly.  You only must be careful when you rub them, and dry them quickly so dark edges and stains don’t soak in.

Read Jen’s blog here: http://youngjeninspats.wordpress.com

5 Responses

  1. Jen Knox

    FYI everyone (I forgot to mention this in the article): the gasoline mentioned above is a special kind for leather…NOT the kind you get for your gas grills 🙂 you should be able to find it in drug stores or leather shops.

  2. Leah

    Thanks for sharing this “handy” article! I am curious what is meant by “glass cloth”. Perhaps we have a different word for it in the States. Also, I picked up a vintage piece I was told was a glove stretcher (an elongated wooden plier type thing). Do you know how or when it is used? While the gloves are still damp?
    Thank you again!

    • Louise Taylor

      My aunt from Berlin visited us in 1938 bringing with her two beautiful light blue dresses with pink smocking for her nieces, my sister and myself aged 4 and 6. She said they were made of glass material. The texture was tufty like Turkish towels and limp. Certainly not like sandpaper.

  3. Leslie Thomas

    to Leah: I wonder whether they might mean something along the lines of fiberglass when they say “glass cloth” ???