Coronavirus can spread via contaminated surfaces, people are taking the extra step of wearing medical gloves for protection. In short, medical gloves are not reusable, people should use once and then throw out.
Medical gloves are generally thinner in comparison to reusable gloves which allows for greater sensitivity. This is especially useful in food preparation services or in medical settings where workers have to change gloves often. They can simply remove and replace gloves without worrying about washing them or not having enough gloves available. The CDC suggests people use gloves while disinfecting the high-touch surfaces of their homes and discard them after each cleaning. If you’re using reusable gloves for the sole purpose of ridding your house of coronavirus, the CDC says to use them only for that purpose.
But what if you’re outside your home and want to use and reuse gloves to do grocery runs or other errands? You probably shouldn’t be wearing medical gloves outside.
One reason is that they can give wearers a false sense of security that they don’t need to wash their hands. The WHO does not believe that wearing medical gloves outside 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’s difficult to use gloves without causing some contamination.
Both latex and nitrile gloves are designed to be single-use, noted Lucy Wilson, the chair of the department of emergency health services at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. One reason for this is because “removing them is difficult, and you can contaminate yourself and them by removing them,” she said. Properly taking off gloves involves inverting them, and this is difficult to do without contaminating the medical gloves. If you are going to reuse glove. “You then have to figure out a way to get them in their regular shape without contaminating them,” she said. With their flimsy shape, that’s going to be difficult.
Washing disposable gloves can compromise their integrity.
Once you have used your medical gloves to touch potentially contaminated surfaces, cleaning them for reuse comes with risks. Medical gloves are not indestructible barriers. “Disposable gloves were not designed for long-term wear,” said Kelly Reynolds, director of the environment, exposure science and risk assessment center at the University of Arizona. “Reusing disposable gloves may increase the risk of exposure to viruses as microscopic tears can develop over time. Washing gloves can disrupt the integrity of the glove and is not recommended.”
It’s easier to keep hands clean than gloves.
Most peoples’ hands are easier to clean and maintain than medical gloves. Thomas Russo, the chief of the infectious disease division at the University of Buffalo, noted that rubber latex gloves can easily tear and break with cleaning and multiple uses, but your hands can withstand this kind of regular cleaning. “Your hands are really easy to maintain with good hand hygiene,” he said.
People should use disposable medical gloves once. They can risk transmission and infection if used incorrectly. They are difficult to reprocess adequately without compromising their effectiveness. And those who intend to use gloves multiple times should buy reusable versions instead.