The urge to wear surgical or disposable gloves is perfectly understandable, particularly now that most countries around the world have made it mandatory to wear some sort of face covering when in a public setting to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
While a pair of disposable gloves might give you a sense of security while grocery shopping or running errands, just like in the case of a mask, if it is not worn or disposed of correctly, it can actually do more harm than good.
In order for gloves to be effective as personal protective equipment (PPE), you have to be extremely diligent in changing and disposing of them. While the CDC doesn’t recommend wearing gloves as it does cloth face coverings, many people are nevertheless using them. If you fall into that category, you should educate yourself on the best practices.
Are You Wearing Your Gloves Responsibly?
Before you rush out to buy a box of latex gloves, ask yourself if you can adjust your habits, routine, and even mannerisms to ensure that the gloves don’t do you and the planet more harm than good.
We have observed people at the supermarket wearing all sorts of PPE who aren’t following the additional necessary procedures to prevent cross-contamination. Most people think that simply donning a mask or gloves is enough – its not by the way, you still need to be mindful of what you’re touching. If you touch a surface and want to scratch your nose, brush your hair away from your face etc, you need to ask yourself, “was that surface I just touched clean?”
It would be a huge mistake to look upon any PPE, especially gloves as some sort of magic shield. PPE’s can’t and don’t kill germs on contact nor will wearing them automatically increase your level of protection. If you’re touching your phone or pushing the trolley at the supermarket or digging through your purse while wearing gloves, they cease to be a source of protection.
You Should You Change Your Gloves Frequently
If you choose to wear gloves, you’ll need to change them frequently. For example, if you drive to the supermarket, you would wear your latex gloves and mask only when you step out of your car. If you are travelling by public transport, you would wear your PPE as soon as you step out of your house, if not just before.
As soon as you reach your car or your home for those using public transport, you should carefully remove and dispose of your PPE responsibly before you enter your car or house, rather than risk contaminating those ‘clean’ areas.
Removing Your Gloves Without Contaminating Yourself
When removing your gloves, pull off one glove halfway and then pull off the other into it so your clean skin doesn’t come in contact with the contaminated outer glove area.
Do not be an iresponsible ass and toss your PPE onto the floor. Carry a ziplock bag with you to dispose of the gloves if you can’t find a trash can. Honestly, this should not have to be said…
When used and removed correctly, gloves can be useful if you’re in a situation where you are unable to wash your hands frequently. But if you can’t or do not wish to wear gloves (and do not work in a job that requires you to do so), that’s perfectly fine and the planet will thank you for not adding to the ever growing pile of pollution.
Simply washing your hands, disinfecting high-touch surfaces, and not touching your face offer nearly the same level of security. With bare hands or with gloves you’re at almost the same risk if you do not practice good personal hygeine.