Firefighter extrication gloves are some of the most sturdy and resistant gloves. They are built to withstand the demanding conditions of heat, abrasion, and impact during search and rescue missions.
That is why they need a break-in period to loosen up and conform to your hands’ shape.
So how to break in fire gloves? This article will introduce two methods – using leather conditioner and water. Both can be applied to multiple glove materials.
Plus, we will provide tips to speed up the process and what you should avoid doing to maintain the integrity of your robust gloves.
Table of Contents
- Method 1 – Break in Fire Gloves With Leather Conditioner
- Method 2 – Break in Fire Gloves With Water
- How NOT to Break in Firefighter Gloves
Method 1 – Break in Fire Gloves With Leather Conditioner
You can only use this method for leather fire rescue gloves, such as full-grain cowhide, suede, and nubuck ones. So, check the label to know your gloves’ materials before proceeding.
Refer to our second method if your pair is from cotton or other fabric materials. Otherwise, grab a leather conditioner or mink oil and a sponge and proceed.
Steps to break in gloves using leather conditioner
Step 1. Soften the leather
Start by applying a small amount of product and work it in by massaging the leather for one to two minutes. You can bend and stretch the fingers gently to increase their flexibility.
If you’re breaking in long arm fireplace gloves, don’t forget the arms and wrists.
You can also use glove oil as an alternative for a conditioner. To use glove oil properly, drop the product on a sponge and dab it into the leather. Don’t pour it directly on the gloves.
When it comes to leather care products, a little goes a long way. You should lightly coat your firefighter rescue gloves instead of saturating them. Applying too much oil will cause the pair to be soaked, heavy, and stained.
Step 2. Work with the rigid parts
Each pair of turnout gloves has a unique structure. You can feel stiff at the thumb with this pair but hard to squeeze the palm with another.
So, put on your gloves, move your fingers in multiple directions, and figure out the most rigid parts.
Then, apply more oil to soften them. You should bend the thumbs and pinkies back and forth, massage the stitches, and squeeze the palms. Repeat five to six times until the oil is completely dry.
Before moving on to the next step, use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess oil.
Step 3. Wear the gloves
Now, put on your gloves and make a fist, hold it for a few seconds, then release and stretch the fingers. Repeat several times to loosen up the leather fibers.
In addition, wear the new gloves to pick up and hold small objects. Carry out this step daily and in a few days, your structural firefighting gloves will be ready for the next fire emergency.
Method 2 – Break in Fire Gloves With Water
All you need for this method is a spray bottle, clean water, and some old newspaper. The point is to dampen the fabric so it can relax and conform to your hands.
Steps to breaking in gloves using water
Step 1. Mist the gloves with clean water
Pour clean water into a spray bottle and lightly mist the gloves. Wait for one to two minutes so the water can permeate the fabric.
Step 2. Stuff the gloves with newspaper
Now, stuff your gloves with newspapers. This will help the softened fabric stretch and loosen up. You should allow the gloves to naturally dry in about a day.
Step 3. Put on the gloves
When the gloves are completely dry, you can try them on. They should feel much more comfortable at this point.
You can stretch your palms, make some finger movements, and hold different objects, so the fabric can become more flexible.
Read more: Detailed guide to breaking in leather work gloves.
How NOT to Break in Firefighter Gloves
The Internet is full of ideas, but you should think carefully before applying one to your gloves. Sometimes, you can end up damaging your new handwear permanently. Below are what not to do when breaking in fire gloves.
1. Do not use microwaves or ovens
The heat in microwaves and ovens can make leather more supple, but the consequence is detrimental. The hot air will draw out the leather’s natural oil, which causes it to harden and crack when the gloves cool down.
Even though leather firefighter gloves can withstand heat, you shouldn’t intentionally introduce extreme temperatures to them. A pair might only bear several incidents of high heat exposure before deteriorating.
2. Do not use shaving cream
One popular tip is to use shaving cream as a leather conditioner to break in gloves, yet we advise you otherwise.
Shaving creams contain a wide range of chemicals that are not meant for treating leather. These compounds can weaken and abrade the top protective layer of the material, leaving it vulnerable to the elements.
3. Do not soak the gloves in water
Don’t soak fire gloves in water to break them in. Big brands like Setwear Gloves often construct their fire glove in three layers: outer shell, moisture barrier, and thermal lining. Soaking the pair can strip away the waterproof layers and damage the inner linings.
Fire gloves are made to withstand harsh conditions. But each time they are exposed to heat and water, they lose a bit of their integrity. So, don’t drench your brand-new gloves.
How do you break in new welding gloves?
Welding gloves are heat and flame-resistant, which makes them inherently similar to firefighter gloves. Thus, you can use the same break-in procedure. But remember to access the pair’s materials in advance and apply the correct method for the material.
Can you run over a glove to break it in?
In theory, applying high pressure, such as running a car over your glove, can help soften the leather immediately. However, you must take the consequences into account. Doing so will leave you with deformed gloves that lack durability.
Don’t attempt quick methods that claim to help break in a glove overnight. They usually do more harm than good.
What can you use instead of glove oil?
There are many alternatives to glove oil, such as petroleum jelly (or Vaseline), linseed oil, mink oil, saddle soap, and lanolin oil.
The application method for these alternatives is similar to that of glove oil, but you should always do spot tests beforehand to make sure the product doesn’t stain the leather.
We hope you find our guide on how to break in fire gloves helpful. As you go ahead and work with your new leather gloves, remember that this process takes time. The more you wear the gloves, the more comfortable they will feel. Thank you for reading!
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.