Motorcycle gloves should have a tight fit for optimal comfort and safety, but what if they're too tight? Maybe they shrunk over time from heat and water exposure, or the gloves are a gift that were just a bit too small.
Thankfully there are steps you can take to stretch your leather gloves out. If you just need a bit more give in the fingers or the palms, then you've come to the right place. However, if the gloves are three sizes too small then you're shit out of luck, and it's time to buy a new pair.
We've put together an easy step-by-step guide for leather stretching, but there's plenty of in-depth advice here as well.
1. Prepare leather gloves for stretching by applying moisture.
First up you'll need to get your hands on a spray that's specialised for leather stretching. A leather shoe stretcher spray is a good option.
If your gloves do not have interior lining, turn them inside out and spray the interior surface, using a microfibre cloth to evenly distribute the solution. If your gloves do have an inner lining, then don't worry about this part.
Turn the gloves back the right way out and give them a once over with the spray bottle, as described above for the interior.
If you can't get your hands on a leather spray, an alternative is soaking them in lukewarm water for 3-5 minutes. Once this is done, give them a gentle squeeze to remove excess water but don't wring the water out entirely.
If you use the water method, make sure to follow the next steps or those gloves will shrink even more.
2. Start stretching your leather gloves.
The best way to stretch out your leather gloves so they conform to your hand size is to wear them. If they still don't fit at this point, try repeating step one.
Your gloves will start stretching during the drying process. It's important to keep them on until they're dry for the best possible result. If the excess moisture is making this uncomfortable, try putting on some latex/plastic gloves first.
Wearing gloves while you ride is a good way to speed up the drying process. You can also stuff each leather glove with newspaper instead of putting them on, which is especially ideal if your goal is to stretch the gloves' wrists.
Once the gloves are completely dry it's time for step three.
3. Lastly, condition your leather gloves.
Now grab some leather conditioner and coat the outside of the gloves. Use a microfibre cloth to evenly spread the conditioner with some gentle, circular motions.
If you soaked the gloves in water during step one, this phase is especially important. The leather conditioner will help the gloves keep their natural oils and moisture, otherwise they'll turn stiff and brittle.
If you used a leather stretching product in step one, remove any excess solution with a dry, microfibre cloth before you apply any conditioner.
Once you've finished all these steps, keep your gloves in a dry, cool environment. To maintain their shape, try not to go through long periods without wearing them, even if you just throw them on for five minutes.
If you're not a fan of the above process for whatever reason, don't sweat it. We'll run through some alternative methods below.
Method 1 – Stretching Leather Gloves Naturally
It's the most time-consuming method, but you can stretch leather motorcycle gloves naturally by just wearing them over time. Try to wear them as much as possible, 2-3 hours a day if you can manage it, while flexing your fingers.
If you can't manage that many hours, even wearing them for short periods still helps. You can even stuff them with something like newspaper to stretch them out.
Method 2 – Stretching Gloves Using Liquid
Plain old water is an old school technique that's perfect if you don't have any leather products lying around. This can be done with either ice, straight water, or newspaper.
Ice expands as it freezes, which can be used to stretch out your leathers. You'll need two zip-lock or plastic bags that can be reliably sealed shut for this method.
Fill your gloves with water then seal the arm holes using a band or a tied-up piece of cloth. Aim to fill them with as much water as is feasible.
Now put those water-filled gloves into your zip-lock or plastic bag. Make sure the bag is sealed well so there is no spillage.
Once that's done, put the gloves into another sealed bag, same as the previous step, to keep them protected.
Put the gloves into a freezer and let them completely freeze.
Now take your frozen gloves out of the freezer and remove only the first bag.
Let the gloves completely thaw while sitting in the first zip-lock/plastic bag then take them out.
Hopefully your gloves have expanded with the ice and are stretched out to satisfaction.
If you want to avoid using ice that's understandable. Using water is a much faster and more comfortable process.
First, find a decent sized container that will comfortably accommodate your leather gloves.
Fill it up with warm water or cold water, whichever you prefer. The container should be full enough to submerge the gloves but not so full that water spills out.
Put your gloves into the water and get them nice and wet. You'll need to soak them well so submerge them completely in the water, twisting and dipping until they're well-soaked.
Once this is done, leave them in the water for about 10 minutes so the gloves can soften up.
After the 10 minutes is up, put the gloves on straight away so they can stretch out. Move your hands around, with an emphasis on the areas that need stretching.
They need to be worn for an hour or two for this to work, so try to plan a ride immediately after. Once you've worn them for a couple of hours, take the gloves off and let them dry.
With Wet Newspaper
If you have some old newspaper lying around, that's all you'll need for this method (except a sink).
Dampen your leather gloves just a bit. They don't need to be soaking wet.
With your gloves damp, grab the newspaper and soak it until it's filled with water and feels soft.
Squeeze out any excess water from the newspaper.
Now cut and shape your newspaper into rolls that can fit into the finger holes and the palms of your gloves. This might take some trial and error so hopefully, you've got enough newspaper to spare.
Once the gloves are nicely stuffed with newspaper, put them in a box or on a surface where they can dry. Leave them to dry for at least a full day.
Method 3: Using heat to stretch your leather gloves
If you want toavoid using liquids on your gloves, heating them with a hair dryer also works.
Hang the gloves up so you can reach every spot with the dryer, or just put them on a flat surface if you find that easier. Another option is to wear each motorcycle glove while you dry it. You might need to wrap your hands in a protective material if they get too hot.
Evenly heat the areas that need stretching.
Once the gloves are hot enough, put them on (if you weren't wearing them already) and move your hands around, flexing the areas that need stretching.
Method 4: Using alcohol
Using methylated spirits or rubbing alcohol is one of the most straightforward stretching methods. You can use a spray bottle or cotton wool to apply either alcohol to your gloves.
Using a spray bottle
Make a mixture of your alcohol of choice with water that's 25% alcohol and 75% water.
Shake the bottle well then spray the areas you want to stretch. The aim isn't to soak the gloves, but to get them moist enough so the leather softens.
Once you've done that, put the gloves on your hands and flex the areas that you just sprayed.
Using cotton wool
Soak the cotton wool directly in your alcohol (don't mix it with water) and gently rub the areas you want to stretch. Put the gloves on once you've done this and flex your hands in the parts where you've applied the alcohol.
Method 5: Stretching using a dryer
A little-known way of stretching any leather is to throw it in the dryer. The combination of heat and spinning softens the leather material while stretching it out.
Set the heat to the lowest setting and let it run for about 10 minutes. For faster results, you can put some other clothing in with the gloves to act as obstacles.
Method 6: Using weight
Weight is a straightforward approach that can still be useful. You'll need a bar to clip your gloves onto, then simply attach a small weight to a glove finger to stretch it out.
Anything from a water bottle to a bar of soap can be used, depending on how much stretching you require. Try not to go much heavier to avoid overstretching.
An hour or two will give the glove finger a very good stretch, but you might only need 3-5 minutes for a small adjustment. Make sure to check the gloves regularly when using this method.
How can I stretch leather quickly?
You can stretch leather quickly by using the above methods, but if you're looking to speed up the process then wear them as much as possible.
Wearing them for 2-3 hours a day while regularly flexing your fingers will help them conform to your hands, but that would take some serious commitment. Putting the gloves on for an hour here or there is a bit more realistic.
How do I expand my gloves?
So how do I expand my gloves? Wearing new gloves as much as possible is the best way to make sure they fit around your hands. But if the gloves are simply too small, any of the above methods will help stretch them out.
Should leather gloves be tight?
Like most riding gear, leather gloves should be tight. The key is having a nice, snug fit without compromising your hand movement or cutting off blood circulation.
Leather gloves stretch over time with wear, so they might even require some shrinking from time to time using water. It's just a natural part of how leather fabric works.
How do you know if gloves are too small?
A sure way to know if gloves are too small is if they're cutting off blood circulation or restricting your range of movement.
While riding gloves should fit snugly, if you can't move your hands freely it's not only very uncomfortable but dangerous. The last thing you need on the road is tight-fitting gloves that make operating the controls and turn signals difficult.
If you need a new pair of motorcycle gloves, check SA1NT's Adventure Gloves to keep your hands cool and protected no matter the terrain.