Updated: Feb 28
When used and replaced correctly, disposable gloves can provide additional protection within organizations and healthcare facilities.
Find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about medical and non-medical gloves below. To select the best type for your organization, get free personal advice now.
What are the different types of disposable gloves?
Gloves vary in material, thickness, size, version (e.g. long- and normal-cuffed, powdered or powder-free), and purpose. There are medical and non-medical gloves.
“Medical gloves are used in healthcare settings during various procedures to prevent contamination between patients and healthcare providers. Medical gloves are either examination gloves that may or may not be sterile, and surgical gloves that are mostly used during various medical procedures and surgical operations and are sterile,” highlights the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in their technical report “Use of gloves in healthcare and nonhealthcare settings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Can disposable gloves be washed and reused?
All medical-style gloves are designed to be used only once and disposed of after use. Gloves have to be turned inside out when removing them to avoid contamination, which would make it difficult to disinfect them properly.
Trying to wash disposable medical gloves would likely break down the material and make them unsafe for repeat use.
If your organization uses disposable gloves, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends educational activities to reduce inappropriate glove use, purchasing good quality disposable gloves, and replenishing stocks in a timely manner.
Check out: Washable Cotton Masks
Are latex gloves safe?
The most commonly used types of medical gloves are nitrile and latex gloves.
Latex gloves cannot be used by or around people allergic to latex. Although it is possible to have an allergic reaction to nitrile, it is far less common than allergic reactions to natural latex.
In addition, use of petroleum-based hand lotions or creams may adversely affect the integrity of latex gloves, according to WHO.
Why are some disposable gloves powdered?
Disposable gloves can be powdered or powder-free.
The inside of powdered gloves is covered in a thin layer of cornstarch which makes them easier to put on. Since they have to be replaced often, especially in healthcare settings, powdered gloves have the benefit of simple and efficient usage. Powdered gloves also reduce sweating as the cornstarch absorbs moisture.
The downside to this option is that the cornstarch might provoke a reaction with the alcohol-based hand sanitizers used in healthcare.
Should disposable gloves be used in non-medical settings?
Use disposable gloves around someone who is sick – washing their dishes, doing their laundry, or disinfecting surfaces they have touched.
Wearing gloves is not recommended in most everyday situations such as running errands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What is the safest way to put on and remove gloves?
Putting on gloves
Take the first glove and hold it at the top edge of the cuff when putting it on.
Take the second glove and hold it at the top edge of the cuff.
Avoid touching the skin of your forearm with the gloved hand while putting on the second glove.
Removing the first glove
Pinch one glove at the wrist without touching your skin.
Peel the glove out and away from the body.
As you remove the glove, it should turn inside out.
Keep holding the removed glove in your gloved hand.
Removing the other glove
Slide the fingers of your bare hand between the other glove and your wrist.
Peel the glove away from the body and turn inside out.
Discard the gloves in a closed garbage can.
Wash your hands with soap and water or disinfect them with alcohol-based sanitizer.
Source of visual: World Health Organization, Glove Use Information Leaflet