How do you break in your baseball glove? Do you strike your glove daily using a bat until it breaks in? And do you know how to steam a baseball glove at home? Some players also opt to let the glove break in naturally as they use it. On the contrary, you may apply oil or even put it in the oven. All these methods may take at least a month before the baseball glove finally breaks in.
But, if you want to break in your glove like a professional in minutes, consider steaming it. In this guide, we will show you how to steam a baseball glove at home in time for your next game.
Wash, Dry and Hit the Glove
Start by washing your glove in mild soap. The soap gets rid of any oil on the glove's surface. Let the glove dry out in the sun. Afterward, use a mallet to hit the edges and pockets. Ensure you are wearing the glove halfway and keep it open as you hit it. This approach prevents creases from forming in the middle of the pocket. Instead, it reinforces the formation of the pocket. Continue hammering the glove for a minute. Check and confirm that the finger sections are soft and uniform. This step ensures the glove closes properly after steaming it.
Apply a Pre-conditioner
A pre-steam conditioner helps in opening up the pores in the gloves, ensuring the steam reaches further into the glove. Also, since your glove has no oil on the surface, the pre-conditioner assists in keeping it moist and free from cracks. Hence, it quickens the break-in process. Most professionals prefer conditioner comprising of Lanolin and Vitamin E. This combination quickly softens hard leather to its original flexibility without degrading the material.
Use a spray bottle to soak the glove with the pre-steam conditioner. You can use a rag in place of a spray bottle. Ensure the conditioner gets to the strings, pockets and the rest of the glove. Wipe off any excess conditioner on the glove.
Steam the Glove
Follow the user guide in setting the steamer. Then, put your pre-conditioned glove in the glove steamer. Let it steam for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how soft you want it to be. Once the time set is up, remove your glove from the steamer.
Hit the Glove
Use a mallet to hit the glove at the hinge and pocket points. Concentrate on areas where you want the glove to be soft, to suit your baseball position. A middle infielder’s glove needs shallow pockets to enable the player to release the ball quickly during relay throws and double plays. Therefore work the mallet more on the lower part of the pocket. This approach will make the pocket lower, ensuring you catch and release the ball with ease.
On the other hand, a catcher’s glove is the most difficult to break in. Aim at achieving deep pockets that will give the glove a unique finger position. This way, all fingers will move to one spot when catching the ball.
If you are breaking in an outfielder’s glove, aim at keeping the thumb and pinkie straight. Doing so ensures the glove remains long, able to cover ground during a defense. You may have to return it to the steamer for another round of warming. As you hit the glove, rub in some more conditioner all over the glove. Then, put the ball in the glove pocket.
Overall, it takes about 20 minutes to get the glove all soft and ready. Once you feel satisfied with the look of the gloves, lock the ball in the glove’s pocket using the strings. This step will give the glove its complete shape. Let the glove stay like this for at least 48 hours.
How to Steam a baseball Glove at Home
Are you wondering whether your baseball glove is ready for steaming and if it is necessary? Steaming your baseball glove at home gives you a chance to soften and infuse it with flexible properties. However, it is important to first assess the baseball glove before embarking on the steaming program. We mentioned earlier that you need to steam your glove per the manufacturer’s instructions, right? Let us discuss more on that.
Why do you steam a baseball glove?
The essence of steaming stems from the fact that the baseball glove is made of leather. This material is hard especially after purchase. You will need the break in during a match. Breaking in the glove may not be easy if the leather material does not undergo a warming process.
Steaming infuses warm moisture and helps you to work with the glove. Ideally, the hot water molecules help to warm up the glove without cracking or over-drying. In fact, the leather material that makes the glove softens after warming.
At home, you can easily make your own steamer. We will discuss creating an at-home steamer towards the end.
Overall, a stretched out glove is not an option in the baseball game. After steaming, you can easily bring the glove to shape. For example, it is possible to draw the glove into a v-shape or curve after steaming at 1440F. This shape perfectly fits into the throwing hand.
With a steamer, it becomes easy to break in the glove. We all know that baseball gloves put under a mattress take a long time to break in, right? Steaming saves time and it gives you the pleasure of moisturizing and oiling the baseball glove, just the way you like it.
How often should I oil my glove?
First of all, oiling the baseball glove ensures it does not dry or crack. This feature promotes the glove’s durability. In a normal baseball season, you should oil the baseball glove three or four times. However, it all depends with the intensity of the matches.
If the pitch is located in a humid area, oiling will be necessary after longer spans. Less humid areas demand more oiling periods, say on a weekly basis.
You should also apply a leather conditioner to the baseball glove before steaming, to seal the glove’s pores. The oil makes the leather soft and supple. This conditioner also improves the glove’s flexibility and makes it to fit the hand with ease.
It is also vital to oil the drier sections such as the laces of the baseball glove keenly. You will notice that the laces tend to wear out quicker than any other section of the baseball glove. Oiling the laces slows down their wearing out.
In addition, the entire glove is subject to oiling at the beginning and the end of the season.
One important fact to note is that- before applying the oil, you should allow the glove to dry naturally if it gets wet. A little oil at a time is sufficient. Excess oil weighs down the glove and puts unnecessary pressure on the hand. In fact, excess oil increases the weight of the glove more than it softens the leather.
After oiling the glove, store it together with a softball. The ball will give the glove shape as opposed to folding it in the pocket. Additionally, more catches and poundings help the glove to attain softness. Always remember to put the oiled glove in a breathable bag.
What is the recommended steaming time?
After the steaming machine is set at 1440F, each glove takes at least a minute and a half to complete the steaming. You can hit the glove once or twice after the steaming process. Three times is viable if a stronger catch in the glove becomes necessary. That means at least 5 minutes are necessary for steaming.
You should be careful about the water temperature in the glove steamer. As stated, water in the steamer will be heated to approximately 1450F. This temperature helps to create steam. The glove will stand this heat for 2 minutes before the work-up process.
The areas to hit after steaming the gloves are the palms, pinky and the thumb sections. Different positions of the glove determine the breaking in process. Roll back the glove after breaking it in. This rolling and hitting will enable you to easily close the glove.
For infielders, you can make deep pockets immediately after steaming. The entire process can take up to 15 minutes and the glove is game-day ready. After steaming, you should beat up the laces and pinky to increase flexibility. As a result, this process improves the catching ability of the baseball glove.
Does baseball glove steaming work?
While steaming does work to increase the glove’s flexibility, catches and ball pounds improve its strength. Steaming is better than placing the gloves under mattresses. For steaming to be effective, the oil should be moderately applied. On the contrary, you do not want the baseball glove to be too heavy to catch the ball with too much oil.
Eventually, to ascertain whether the glove steaming process works, you must first perform the pre-steaming activity. Applying the pre-conditioner ensures the steaming process is successful. After pre-conditioning, you can steam the glove to a temperature of 1310F. The results will be similar to steaming the glove to 1450F.
Additionally, you should be prepared to steam the gloves in the steamer for 5 to 10 minutes. However, this amount of time may degrade the leather. Too much heat affects the leather’s workability. You can choose to apply the conditioner and utilize a break-in gear. This kit composes of mallet and a softball.
Creating an At-Home Steamer
How do you break in your baseball mitt on a budget? Do you hit it with a bat until it breaks in? A cheaper, less tedious, and safer alternative is to steam your glove. In fact, most brand manufacturers like Mizuno and Nokona recommend this method. These brands even offer mitt-steaming services at a reasonable price.
However, what do you do when you had not budgeted for this additional cost? How do you break in your glove in time for your next game? Do you know how to create an at-home steaming machine that will do the job?
Below is a simplified DIY process just for you:
It is easy to create your at-home steamer using the readily available items in your kitchen. These include:
An Absorbent Towel or An Air Tight Material Or Lid
An Oven Rack or A Wooden Rod
Tea Kettle or Stove or boiling Pot
A Pair of Tongs
Step 1: To Prepare the Glove
Remove any debris from your glove. Then, use a damp cloth to wipe away any remaining dirt on the mitt. Leave it to dry in the shade. Next, apply an approved glove conditioner on the inner and outer sections of the glove. This way, the fabric’s pores will open up faster; hence, take a shorter time to soften.
Thirdly, use the damp cloth to wipe away any excess conditioner on the mitt. Place a ball in the mitt’s pocket and lock it in using a string. Now your glove is ready for the steamer.
Step 2: To Set Up Your AT-Home Steamer
Cut out the bottom section of the bucket to open it up. You will later, place this bucket over the boiling water in an inverted position. Place the oven rack on top of the bucket so that it stays suspended halfway through.
Alternatively, tie the wooden rod across the cutout section of the bucket. Finally, tie a string at the middle of the rod to hang the gloves.
Pour water into the boiling kettle. Then, place or suspend the thermometer in the water. Subsequently, heat the water until it reaches at least 150 degrees. Reduce the flame on the container so that it just simmers.
Let the set up warm up from the steam below for several minutes.
Step 3: Steaming the Mitt
Place the conditioned mitt on the oven rack. Alternatively, tie the gloves to the string to suspend it in the bucket. Next, cover the open side of the bucket with the towel or any airtight material. This way, you’ll trap all the steam within the bucket, allowing it to circulate in and around the glove.
Let the glove steam for 5 to 15 minutes depending on how soft you want your glove to be.
Use the pair of tongs to remove your glove from the steamer. Then, pat-dry the mitt using an absorbent towel. Apply your choice leather oil or cream to close the pores and prevent the glove from excessive dryness afterward.
Then, use a mallet to pound the glove’s heel or other breaking points to shape it. Your baseball glove is now ready for use.
The results of the steaming process will vary from one glove to the other, depending on the type of leather you steam.
Secondly, not all gloves are ideal for this break-in process. Some gloves may shrink or grow stiff after heating. Hence, not all manufacturers advocate for this method. For example, if you heat your Wilson glove, you risk having your warranty voided before it expires.
Therefore, familiarize yourself with your glove’s fabric and the chemicals applied to it before you steam it. Moreover, always ensure you refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before attempting any DIYs.
Final Thought on Steaming
Steaming baseball gloves helps it to be soft and flexible. Furthermore, the steam facilitates the glove’s break in process. The modern glove steamer replaced the use of mattresses as heat storage points for baseball gloves. It saves time as the steaming process is set to a particular time and temperature.
The optimum steaming time ranges between 2 to 10 minutes with a temperature of 1310F to 1450F.
Ultimately, steaming is an effective means of softening most baseball gloves. However, excessive oiling of the gloves after that serves to weigh down the glove. You should focus on more play time to attain break in and complement steaming.
How to Steam a Baseball Glove at Home FAQs
Q. How long should I steam my glove?
A. Steam you glove for 1 to 15 minutes. The steaming time depends on the type of glove you have.
Q. Can the steaming process cause permanent damage to a baseball glove?
A. No. The steaming process does not spoil your glove. It instead helps in getting your glove in a game ready form.
Q. Which other softeners can I use to precondition my baseball glove?
A. Mink oil, Vaseline and tanner’s glove oil are equally effective in softening the glove.
Advancements in technology have transformed the way baseball players break in their baseball gloves. We now have baseball glove steamers that are easy to use from the comfort of your home. These steamers will warm the glove and loosen it in minutes. Make use of your favorite glove softener to prepare the glove for the steaming process. Give the glove its shape by hitting it all around as you concentrate on the key areas. This process is an easy yet effective way of how to steam a baseball glove at home.