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Just like athletes have lucky shoes and musicians use a favorite pick, most avid gardeners have a go-to pair of gloves or two. Gardening gloves can protect your hands and help you be more efficient during long days in the yard or just quick indoor houseplant repottings. Ready to meet your perfect pair? Dig into this guide.
Do you need gardening gloves?
While some gardeners treat going gloveless like a badge of honor, there are health and safety reasons to protect your hands while doing yard work.
The deep and restorative sleep you’ve always dreamt about*
For starters, gardens can be full of prickly thorns, sharp rocks, and hungry bugs that can injure bare skin. Unseen threats like bacteria and parasites can also run amok in soil.
Two of the most dangerous soil pathogens are listeria and Toxoplasma gondii. While rare, serious health problems can occur following exposure to these germs—especially among those who are pregnant or have weakened immune systems.
Always wear gloves when gardening, just to be safe, and be sure to wash your hands after you’re done. Doing so will also keep your nails clean and hands soft and blister-free after an afternoon of weeding or digging.
Where to buy gardening gloves.
Since they’re such an essential tool, you can find gardening gloves in most home improvement stores including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, and your local hardware shop or garden center. If you’re eyeing a certain pair (peep our recommendations below), you can also order them online easily.
How to wash & maintain them.
When you take care of your gloves, they should be able to take care of you for years.
Reusing the same pair season after season is the more sustainable and budget-friendly move, so be sure to keep yours fresh: Rinse them off after every time you use them, and give them a deeper clean every month or so, depending on their wear and tear.
Different materials will have different laundering requirements, but most cotton gloves can be washed (by hand or in a machine) in cold water and hung out to air dry to prevent shrinkage. Leather gloves are a little more finicky and should be conditioned every once in a while to maintain strength and sheen. New to the technique? Check out our guide to leather conditioning here.
Store your gloves together in a prominent place so you don’t accidentally forget you have them and keep ordering new ones every spring.
What are the best gloves for gardening?
Before you pick out a pair (or two) of gloves, you’ll want to consider how you’ll be using them. The best pair for digging and heavy-duty lifting won’t necessarily be the best pair for more delicate, precise tasks like hand weeding or pruning. Think about the activities you do most in the garden, and go from there.
Here’s a master list of the top gloves for different gardening tasks. While each has a slightly different design, they’re all gardener-approved and guaranteed durable, comfortable, flexible, and affordable:
Best all-purpose: Gardener’s Supply Company Nitrile Gloves
These second-skin gloves are great for precision tasks like pruning and trimming. They’re thin, lightweight, and breathable, and most backyard reviewers find that they have a perfectly snug fit. While they won’t protect you from large thorns, they’re rubber-coated to catch smaller prickles. Avid gardeners can get two to three seasons out of them—a great value for the price.
Get them if: You’re looking for a glove that you’ll forget you’re wearing
Best budget: G & F Products Heavy Duty Cotton Blend Blue
Don’t let the price fool you: These cotton gloves are surprisingly durable. Designed for all kinds of industrial work, they have rubber-coated palms and fingers for protection from small thorns and splinters.
With devotees spanning from mechanics, farming, and professional landscaping, they’re comfortable enough to work in all day long. And while they won’t last forever (most reviewers get two to three weeks of heavy use out of them), they come in a 12-pack for easy swapping.
Get them if: You do occasional yard work but always lose your gloves
Price: $12.67/12 pairs
Best thorn-proof: Gardener’s Supply Company Rose Gloves
A great option for rose gardeners and succulent lovers, these gloves are tough enough to stand up to any prickle. They’re made from thick but light nylon and polyurethane suede that reviewers say stays comfortable and breathable even on dreadfully hot days. Thanks to an extra-long sleeve, they’ll protect forearms from scratches as well.
Get them if: You live in a desert environment or have lots of prickly plants
Best for digging and weeding: Airmarch Garden Gloves with Claws for Women and Men
The plastic claws on these waterproof gloves turn your fingers into mini shovels, and they’re great for digging, pruning, and aerating soil as you work. While they look like they’d be annoying to use, reviewers say they don’t get in the way at all and are actually very helpful for mobility issues like arthritis. And for an added bonus? You’ll feel like wolverine when you wear them (and can also repurpose them as a costume or back scratcher…)
Get them if: You’re digging up a new flower bed this year
Best leather: Hardy Pigskin Leather Work Gloves
Leather gloves are comfortable, made to last, and naturally water-resistant. While it’s a stiffer material than cotton, it’s ideal for protecting hands as you shovel, fertilize, and do other messy households chores. This pair from Hardy gets high marks for its comfort, durability, and low price point.
Get them if: You’re looking for a comfortable glove to use in and out of the garden
Best for watering day: The Floral Society Garden Gloves
No more soggy gloves! Designed by florists, this flexible, grippy pair is finished with a waterproof rubber palm. Its fitted wrist helps ensure that water won’t leak into your hands, either.
Get them if: You hate getting pruney fingers
Best for small hands: Youth Girls Nitrile Coated Garden Gloves
If you’re looking to get your child in on the outdoor fun (or find yourself swimming in every other glove you’ve tried), these petite, latex-free gloves from Digz are for you. Water-resistant, breathable, and flexible, they come in fun patterns to make digging up the dirt even more enjoyable for everyone.
Get them if: You have a kid (or petite hands)
Gloves are an essential tool for every gardener. They come in heavy-duty models and more flexible fits, so finding your perfect pair(s) is largely a matter of preference. Once you find a glove you like, take care of it and it should last you season after prosperous season.