Since the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can spread via contaminated surfaces, some people take the extra step of wearing gloves for apparent protection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests people use gloves to disinfect very sensitive surfaces in their homes and dispose of them after each cleaning. If you’re using reusable gloves for the sole purpose of ridding your home of the coronavirus, the CDC says to use them only for that purpose.
But what if you are outside your home and want to use and reuse gloves for grocery shopping or other errands?
Health experts have spoken and do not recommend either of the two practices.
You probably shouldn’t be wearing gloves at all.
One of the reasons health experts don’t approve of wearing gloves outdoors is that they can give wearers a false sense of security that they don’t need to wash their hands.
The World Health Organization doesn’t believe wearing gloves outdoors is effective in preventing coronavirus infections: ‘Regularly washing your bare hands offers more protection against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves, ‘the health organization said in a Facebook post.
It is difficult to use gloves without causing contamination.
Medical-style latex and nitrile gloves are designed for single use, noted Lucy Wilson, chair of the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s department of emergency health services.
One of the reasons for this is that “removing them is difficult, and you can contaminate yourself and contaminate them by removing them,” she said. Removing gloves properly involves reversing them, which can be difficult to do without contaminating the gloves.
Once the gloves are reversed, if you are going to reuse them, “then you have to find a way to get them back to their usual shape without contaminating them,” she explained. With their fragile form, it will be difficult.
Washing disposable gloves can compromise their integrity.
Once you have used your gloves to touch potentially contaminated surfaces, cleaning them for reuse involves risks. Medical gloves are not indestructible barriers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration noted that even wearing hand lotion under latex gloves can break the material.
‘Disposable gloves were not designed to be worn long term,’ said Kelly Reynolds, director of the environment, exposure science and risk assessment center at the University of the ‘Arizona. ‘Reusing disposable gloves may increase the risk of exposure to viruses as microscopic tears can develop over time. Washing gloves may affect the integrity of the glove and is not recommended. ‘
It is easier to keep hands clean than gloves.
If you’re thinking about sanitizing your gloves for reuse, be aware that most people’s hands are easier to clean and maintain than gloves.
“Let’s say you touch a surface that is contaminated, although statistically it is going to be less likely outside of health care,” said Thomas Russo, head of the infectious disease division at the University of Buffalo. ‘The secret then is to go ahead and decontaminate your hand and / or glove. The problem is that gloves are much more difficult to decontaminate. ‘
Russo noted that latex rubber gloves can easily tear and break with cleaning and multiple uses, but your hands can withstand this type of regular cleaning. ‘Your hands are really easy to care for [with] good hand hygiene, he said.
Keep in mind how this coronavirus mainly spreads: Wilson noted that it is not absorbed through intact skin, it enters through mucous membranes or openings. ‘Your skin is a protective layer in itself, but you need to be sensitive and careful with hand washing, Wilson said.