How to clean white kid gloves and deal with moths

I don’t have, and have never had a pair of kid gloves, white or any other colour. In fact, I don’t really get on very well with gloves and only wear them if it really is absolutely freezing… I don’t even like wearing washing up gloves (they wouldn’t be kid, white or otherwise, obviously! These days cleaning anything is so much easier than in ‘the olden days’; not only are cleaning products better (and safer) but the things we want to clean are often designed to be easy to deal with – the surfaces of kitchen units, the fabrics that we wear, no-stick pots and pans. Even so there are items which do need special attention, and with clothes and furnishings, if in doubt, take them to the cleaners (that’s a saying which might need to be written about another time!

Kid gloves it seems, or so I understand to be of two sorts the ones which butlers and housemaids wore, which do not leave a print or any trace on whatever is being handled, and gloves made from a kid’s skin (baby goat, obviously!) … actually kidskin need not necessarily be from a baby goat, it can be from lamb or calf. In fact kidskin could be from any fine leather product.

White kids would be the softest, lightest, most delicate pair of gloves, and no doubt expensive, therefore it was important to clean them without damaging or marking them. So how to clean them… some advice from 1879, and a recipe:


  • Make a thick lather with white soap and warm water
  • it must he very thick, so that it can be turned upside down and not fall out
  • put your gloves on
  • take a soft cloth and quickly apply the lather, and as quickly rub off with another soft clean cloth
  • there must be as little moisture as possible to the lather
  • clean one finger at a time
  • the gloves must not be allowed to get wet.

Now I may not have any white kid gloves, but we do have trouble with moths, not fluttering round our lights at night, but nibbling our woollens. However, I don’t think this ‘recipe’ would be much good for our jumpers and scarves:


  • get two or three pounds of powdered borax
  • if necessary, untack the carpets around the edges
  • sprinkle plenty of borax all around the outer edges of the carpet…
  • …and with a feather or brush try to push as much as possible under the edges…
  • … and let the borax remain. It will not injure the carpet

Back to kidskin gloves, or kid gloves, they have been quite inspirational musically:

  • Kid Gloves – Rush 
  • Kid Gloves – Rory Gallagher
  • Kid Gloves – Fountains of Wayne 
  • Kid Gloves – Doomtree
  • Kid Gloves – Voxtrot 
  • Kid Gloves – Marmaduke Duke
  • Kid Gloves – Surkin
  • Kid Gloves  – Larry Carlton

I have to say, apart from Rush and Rory Gallagher, I’ve not heard of the others!

… and finally, I love lists and can’t resist one more… these are actual types of kid leather, and lots of them also sound like bands!

  • bronze kid – dyed red with cochineal
  • cadet kid
  • cheveril – 16th/17th century very soft and flexible
  • diphera – 19th century used for bonnets
  • Dongola – from sheep, kangaroo or goat
  • French kid – high quality
  • glacé – very shiny
  • glazed kid – the same as glacé
  • gold or silver) kid – metallic
  • kangaroo kid – mock kangaroo skin
  • mat kid – treated with beeswax and olive oil
  • Morocco
  • patent kid
  • pebbled
  • royal kid
  • suede kid
  • Vici kid – trademarked chrome-tanned

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