Why Do Bell Ringers Wear Gloves? (It’s Not to Keep Their Hands Warm)

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Have you ever wondered why bell ringers wear gloves? Well, it’s much more than just a fashion statement. In fact, there are many reasons why bell ringers wear gloves, everything from tradition to protection for both the bells and you.

Why Would you wear gloves to play handbells?

Wearing gloves while playing handbells or hand chimes has a few benefits!

  • To keep your hands warm
  • Protection from vibrations
  • Part of handbell history
  • Protect the bells from your skin
  • Protect your hands from the bells
  • To give you a better grip

To keep you hands warm during performances

Bell ringing performances are extremely popular in and around Christmas time for obvious reasons. With temperatures reaching freezing and performances often outside it’s easy for your hands and fingers to get cold quickly.

It’s not just the cold weather that you need to be concerned about, the metal bell itself can become very cold to the touch so gloves offer you protection here too.

Protection from the bells ringing Vibrations

Gloves protect bell ringers from the vibrations of the bells. The vibrations can cause numbness a tingle in the hands, and over time can lead to permanent damage. Wearing gloves helps to absorb some of the vibrations and protect the hands.

Gloves are part of bell ringing traditions

Traditionally handbells had leather handles. Gloves were worn to protect the handles from the oils from your skin. Modern handbells however tend to have a plastic handle and therefore the same concerns do not apply.

gloves Protect the bells from your skin

Touching the bell casting with your bare hands can allow the transfer of the oils, acids and salts from your skin. These transfers can cause staining and tarnish to the bell over time. Although it won’t damage the tone of the bell if not cleaned properly will start to look dull and ugly over time.

gloves protect your skin from the bells

To become good at anything requires practice, and bell ringing is no different. Your hands can develop sore spots, blisters and even calluses, but a good glove will offer a barrier and a level of protection from these issues.

gloves offer a better grip of the bell handles

Some bell ringers prefer a glove with a dotted palm and finger. These gloves offer a better grip on the bell as well as offering less hand fatigue as you are not required to grip the bell so tightly.

What are some of the challenges that bell ringers face while wearing gloves?

The biggest challenge that a bell ringer faces when wearing gloves is they lose some of the feeling and feedback from the bell when it’s chimed. Just as gloves protect your hands from the vibrations they also dampen those vibrations and you lose that connection to the bell.

Black vs White Gloves for bell Ringers?

One of the biggest questions for bell ringers is White or Black Gloves. White gloves are the more traditional option and are still to this day the most popular choice, but keeping them bright white requires some work.

As a result more and more bell-ringing choirs are moving to black gloves, not only are they a lot easier to keep clean, but they are much better at hiding the dirt too. It simply is just a matter of choice.

How do bell ringers care for their gloves?

How to Clean Handbell Gloves
Keeping your white gloves white is a nightmare!

Bell ringers need to take care of their gloves so their gloves can take care of them. This means washing them regularly to keep them clean and bright and only wearing them when handling the bells to prevent dirt and debris pick up.

Quality gloves that are 100% cotton gloves are best for washing and can even be bleached once they become grubby. It is also important to store them in a cool, dry place once cleaned.

different types of gloves that bell ringers wear?

  • Cotton
  • Nylon
  • Leather
  • Antislip


Many bell ringers will opt for a cotton glove when bell ringing. They are generally much longer lasting and offer better protection to the bells from the oils on your hands that as previously mentioned will tarnish the bells over time.

100% Cotton gloves are preferred to a blended cotton glove as they are more durable and a better quality. Blended cotton gloves by their name are blended with inferior fibres blended with to make them more affordable.

look out for a glove with a keystone thumb this will offer a more comfortable ergonomic fit which is needed when handling these precious handbells.


Nylon gloves have some advantages, they are cheaper, and they can look good and stretch to make them a better generic fit.

The stretch however makes them weaker than the cotton gloves and more prone to tearing or splitting at the seams. Nylon gloves also offer less friction and can make the bell less secure in your hand causing you to grip more tightly leading to hand fatigue.


Leather gloves are more often used by base ringers. They offer more protection than a cotton glove and usually have padding around the thumb, palms and base of the index finger. They are a result usually the most costly option.


Many bell ringing gloves come with the option of some form of enhanced grip. Either plastic or rubber dotted palm and or fingers, these are a popular option for bell ringers as they offer a better grip and less hand fatigue as you are not gripping so tightly to the bell.


So why do bell ringers wear gloves? Well, as we’ve covered there are many reasons, but ultimately it comes down to one core reason and that’s protection.

Whether that’s protection from the cold, protection of the bells or protection of your hands, gloves as well as completing your performance outfit gloves allow bell ringers to take part in bell ringing safely.

To find out more about how gloves can protect your hands and fingers in other cool hobbies like beekeeping, check out our other hobby gloves posts.

Thanks for reading.

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The founder and chief editor here at solelygloves.com. I'm a freelance writer in the health and sports world. When not working I can be found on a sports field playing a range of sports and team games or hanging with my young family.