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Snowboarder with a close up of mittens

How to Re-Waterproof Your Gloves

Cold, wet hands can put a serious damper on an otherwise great day on the hill. When your fingers are too frozen to tighten your boots, strap into your bindings, or unwrap the snacks you stashed in your pocket, it’s difficult to maintain maximum stoke.

Nearly all ski and snowboard gloves and mittens come with a water-repellent coating that prevents water from soaking into the outer fabric. (If your gloves are leather, they might have come with a little packet of weatherproofing goop that accomplishes the same effect.)

Over time, this coating can wear off and eventually allow water to make its way into your gloves. This usually happens pretty slowly, so it might take a while to notice your gloves don’t seem quite as warm and dry as they did before.

But if your gloves or mittens are feeling more like Spongebob Soghands than the self-contained weatherproof fortresses they’re intended to be, it’s probably time to re-up your waterproofing. Fortunately, it’s super easy to do yourself, with products that are easy to find.

Re-waterproofing your gloves is a great way to make them last, and also a solid idea if you’re planning on selling your old gear. We can’t make any promises about how fresh waterproofing could affect your resale value—but overall, well-maintained gear always sells better!

Close up of Burton leather snowboard mittens

Step 1: Clean Your Gloves

Since you’re taking care of your gloves, you might as well give them a good clean, right? Plus, waterproofing products work better on gloves that aren’t grimy. Most of the time, spot cleaning with a damp cloth will be plenty good enough for this step.

If your gloves are fully synthetic—as in, no leather on the fingers, palms, or anywhere else—you may be able to wash them by hand, or even in a washing machine. (Check the care instructions on the label to be sure.) If they’re going in the washer, it’s wise to put them in a mesh bag first, and run the washer on the delicate setting.

If you are soaking your gloves with water—whether washing by hand or in a machine—you’ll want to use a wash intended for outdoor gear, rather than regular laundry detergent. Regular detergents can compromise the breathability of gloves with waterproof/breathable liners by clogging up their tiny pores with leftover soap residue.

Gently shake or squeeze out any excess water, and lay them flat to dry. Don’t wring them out super hard like you’re trying to whip up a fresh batch of glove juice (gross).

Step 2: Apply Product

Next, you’re ready to apply your waterproofing product of choice. Many of these products are water-based and can be applied while your gloves are still damp. Nikwax is the most popular manufacturer, and offers several different products designed for different fabrics. (Glove Proof from Nikwax is a solid choice, because it works on both leather and synthetic materials.) If your gloves or mittens are mostly leather, a leather conditioner/waterproofer will be your best bet—it usually looks more like a cream than a liquid.

Naturally, you should follow the directions on the label of whatever product you choose. Generally, you’ll need to rub, spray, or dab an even coat across most of the surface area. Some people find it easier to do this while wearing their glove in the opposite hand to give it a bit more structure. Pay special attention to any seams or stitches, as they’re often the weak points in any glove’s waterproof-ness.

One important note: don’t apply waterproofing products to any soft panels on your gloves that you use to wipe your nose and/or goggle lenses. You need these areas to absorb water to work properly, and water-repellent coatings will prevent that from happening.

Step 3: Clear Any Excess & Let ‘Em Dry

After letting the waterproofing product soak in for a few minutes, use a cloth to clean away any excess left over. Slathering it on too thick could compromise your gloves’ breathability or grip, so don’t get fooled into thinking that more is better.

Once you’re confident you’ve wiped away most of the leftovers, let your gloves air dry overnight and you should be all set for the next day. While waterproofing products don’t necessarily have to “cure” to be effective, we’ve found giving them a little time to absorb into the material offers the best results.

Snowboarder in deep powder with a closeup of mittens.

Step 4: Go Play in the Snow

Now that your gloves or mittens are freshly waterproofed, they’re ready to be put back into service—or sent along to their next home, with a fellow shredder who will no doubt appreciate having warm and dry hands just as much as you did.

Most importantly, now you can do all the stuff you weren’t able to do with soaked, frozen fingers. Build a jump in that spot you’ve been eyeing up. Craft the perfect spherical snowball to throw at your friends. Or dig a snow cave using only your hands. We’re not here to tell you how to have a good time—just that you’ll have a better time with waterproof gloves.

TJ Parsons is a semi-reformed snowboard bum who now has a semi-adult career as a professional writer and creative. He's a self-proclaimed perpetual intermediate who thinks the outdoors are for everyone, and who wants to help dismantle gatekeeping and elitism in outdoor sports. When he's not squeezing brain juice into a keyboard, you'll find him riding boards or bikes throughout the Intermountain West.

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