Glove Use & Hand Hygiene: Are They Worth It?

Glove Use & Hand Hygiene: Are They Worth It?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly infectious respiratory illness that can spread from person to person through droplets and contact with contaminated surfaces. As we’re all acutely aware by now, the virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation of an outbreak in Wuhan, China. It then spread to other countries and plunged the world into a crisis.

Keeping our hands clean is one of the most important steps that can be taken to avoid getting sick and spreading the virus to others. That’s because frequent cleaning of the hands with soap and water, or the use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser products (or approved alcohol-free hand sanitizer dispenser such as Nilaqua alcohol-free hand sanitiser) protects against many diseases and respiratory infections including COVID-19 among others such as MERS, influenza, and the common cold.

But what about wearing gloves?

While gloves do have a role to play in preventing the spread of the virus and are an effective piece of personal protective equipment (PPE), they do not provide complete protection against hand contamination. In fact, some health authorities have said that gloves give a false sense of security, especially because traces of the virus on a surface will stick to gloves instead of your hands.

So, to dispel some of the confusion and provide clarity, we’re providing some guidance on the wearing of gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic*.

*Information in this blog post should be used as rough guidance only; HandStations.co.uk is an independent retailer and is not an official medical resource.

Should I wear gloves during COVID-19?

Wearing gloves does not replace hand hygiene. They are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand- washing soap and water or hand rub with alcohol-based hand sanitizer (before and after wearing gloves).

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing gloves is not necessary in most situations, for example when running errands.

In their own words, gloves should be used when cleaning or caring for someone who is sick, but in any case, they don’t recommend the general public use of gloves. Gloves are also not a substitute for thorough washing or sanitising of hands.

The CDC warns that when they’re not used and properly removed, gloves can actually be a source of contamination.

When to wear gloves

According to health officials, you should only be wearing gloves when:

  • You’re in a healthcare setting or are caring for someone who’s sick.
  • You’re cleaning potentially infected surfaces or are using harsh chemicals.

That’s it.

When to avoid using gloves

Outside of these circumstances, the CDC and others don’t recommend wearing gloves. That includes when visiting the supermarket, filling up your car with petrol, or running other daily errands because they won’t protect you from COVID-19. In fact, they might even lead to the spreading of germs.

Wearing gloves outside of the two settings above also isn’t recommended because:

  • There could be a tear or rip in the gloves.
  • You could put them on incorrectly.
  • You could take them off incorrectly.
  • They could give you a false sense of security, and cause you to touch anything that you want.

Why wearing gloves can be risky

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing gloves when out running errands, shopping in the supermarket or driving their own cars. This can be dangerous because if someone wears the same pair of gloves for hours on end, they’re running the risk of picking up the virus and spreading it everywhere. That’s because someone wearing gloves isn’t going to wash them or use hand sanitiser.

The person wearing gloves like this may also be putting themselves at risk. By allowing oneself to be lulled into a false sense of security, someone wearing the same pair of gloves all day risks transmitting the virus to their car, groceries, clothing, and even to themselves if they accidentally touch their face.

If you’re someone who has been regularly wearing gloves outside of medical settings or when not cleaning—stop. Regularly wash and sanitise your hands instead. It’s safer, cheaper, and better for the environment.

Tips for using gloves

Although it’s not recommended that you use gloves, there are some key tips you should follow if you are going to.

First of all, if you wear a glove then you must dispose of it properly. Dispose of used gloves in a lined container, securing the contents and disposing of them with regular household waste. Discarded gloves should never be left lying around or strewn across surfaces as this can cause cross-contamination.

You should also remove and discard gloves after each use. Gloves are designed to be single use; they’re not meant to be re-used. Never, ever wash and re-use your gloves. This doesn’t necessarily clean them, and it can make them more prone to tearing. On that note, make sure that you change your gloves if they become too torn or heavily contaminated.

When wearing gloves, avoid unnecessarily touching environmental surfaces around you. Avoid light switches, work surfaces, cabinets, lift buttons, doorknobs, etcetera, because these can become contaminated if your gloves are soiled.

Handwashing is a much better alternative

Handwashing remains the best way to protect yourself and your family from getting sick with illnesses like COVID-19. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it can help prevent illness and keep us all from unnecessarily getting sick and spreading the virus around further.  

According to health authorities, regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some examples of these activities include:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food.
  • Before and after eating food.
  • Before and after caring for someone who’s sick.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.
  • After using the bathroom.
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • After touching an animal.
  • After touching rubbish.
  • Before and after wearing gloves.

Remember that when you wash your hands, it’s important to thoroughly rub in the soap to all areas. This includes the palms, knuckles, fingernails, in between fingers, the backs of hands, and the balls of our hands. The whole process should take roughly 20 to 30 seconds if it’s done properly, not including drying time.

When to use hand sanitiser

You should use hand sanitiser either:

  • When it’s not possible to wash your hands.
  • When your hands aren’t dirtied or heavily soiled, but you have touched something like a doorknob, public surface, or any other possible vector for transmission.

If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy, you should try and find a suitable handwashing station. This is because dirt and grease can prevent hand sanitiser  dispenser from doing its job properly. Only soap and water are known to be 100% effective on soiled hands.

How to use hand sanitiser properly

You need to use enough hand sanitiser so that it covers both of your hands entirely, front and back. Avoid using so much that your hands are dripping wet—try to achieve a balance.

Once the sanitiser is on your hands, thoroughly rub it in so that there’s no residue left at all. Don’t stop rubbing your hands together until all the sanitiser has evaporated and your hands have dried completely.

That’s it—it’s very simple to use. Hand sanitisers that have high alcohol contents (60% plus), in addition to some certified alcohol-free hand sanitisers, are just as effective at killing germs as soap and water are, too.

At Hand Sanitiser Station, we sell a range of hand sanitisers and hand sanitation products like gels and dispensers. We sell to both private individuals and businesses/companies that are looking for a one-stop-shop for all their hand sanitation needs.

To find out more, visit our store or read our blog.

1 Comment

  1. […] The best way to protect yourself from illness and infections is to limit the amount of contact and exposure your hands have with surfaces. This is why gloves have become so popular, though we don’t recommend their use for day-to-day tasks. […]

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