It’s easy to joke that, in order to leave your house, you need a hazmat suit. But wearing a face mask and a pair of gloves can reduce the risk of you getting COVID-19—or you giving it to someone else. It only works if you know what you’re doing. Here are 10 ways you may be wearing protective gloves wrong, and how to wear them right.
You’re Taking Them Off Wrong
“When you take off your first glove, that hand is essentially clean, but if you touch the outside of the second glove with your bare hand, now your hands might be contaminated,” says Dr. Dimitar Marinov.
The Rx: “When removing gloves, you want to pull them off at the wrist and invert them so you don’t have the contaminated service exposed,” says Dr. Inna Husain. “You need to actually stick your fingers under the second glove and peel it,” says Dr. Marinov.
You’re Still Touching Your Face
“Many people get a false sense of security. They think they are safe and start touching their faces or face masks with the gloves that might be already contaminated,” says Dr. Marinov. “Touching your face with dirty hands is probably the most common way people get infected.”
The Rx: “Treat the gloves as if they were your bare hands,” says Dr. Rafael Lugo, Owner/CEO at Lugo Surgical Group. “Do not touch your face with gloves that might have been contaminated, since that defeats the purpose.”
“There have been images online of people wearing protective gloves while eating from a bag of snacks while reaching for objects on grocery shelves,” says Dr. Leann Poston. “There is no difference between washing your hands with soapy water, touching a contaminated surface, and infecting yourself, and touching a surface with a glove and then touching your face.”
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You’re Not Washing Your Hands
“Some people are not washing their hands before handling protective gloves,” says Dr. Poston. “If you touch protective gloves with dirty hands that have touched the outside surface of the gloves and then touch your face with gloved hands, the gloves have lost any value to protect you.”
You’re Too Comfortable
“Wearing protective gloves allows some people to feel more comfortable touching surfaces or people that they would not usually touch during a pandemic,” says Dr. Poston. “This feeling of comfort may result in the gloves having more germs on their surface than your hands would otherwise. Carelessly removing the gloves transfers germs to countertops, surfaces, or other places.”
You’re Slacking in Personal Hygiene
“Some people may not wash their hands as frequently if they wear gloves,” says Dr. Poston
The Rx: You should still thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, no matter the protective gear you wear.
You’re Washing the Gloves
“Washing them with a substance that compromises their integrity is a mistake,” says Dr. Lugo. “They are made with latex and there may be substances that can damage them.”
The Rx: “Use water and soap like you would wash your hands if you want to reuse them,” says Dr. Lugo. “Most of the gloves out there are meant to be thrown out after one use.”
You’re Wearing the Same Pair for a Long Time
“It is best to change your gloves as frequently as possible and wash your hands thereafter.
The reason is that your gloved hand will come in contact with many kinds of surfaces, including those with germs,” says Omiete Charles-Davies, a medical doctor who leads the team at 25doctors.com, a health information website. “So, if you don’t change your gloves often, they can transfer germs from one surface to another or even to parts of your body.”
You’re Touching Your Personal Items
“If you are going to wear gloves in public to avoid germs/COVID-19, it is beyond impractical to touch personal items with the same dirty pair. I would advise, do not touch your personal items with the gloves you have used out in public,” says Summer Holloway, DMD.
The Rx: “Remove your gloves prior to reaching into your purse, retrieving your wallet or cell phone or getting into your car and touching your steering wheel,” says Holloway. “As always, wash your hands after being in public and sanitize personal items with wipes you come into contact with frequently, i.e. cell phones, steering wheels, door handles, etc.”
You’re Using Hand Sanitizer
According to Atom Edenson, DMD, another mistake is, “applying hand sanitizer to the gloves, which will eventually degrade the gloves and wastes precious hand sanitizer.” Use it only on your hands—it’s right there in the name.
And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 40 Things You Should Never Touch Due to Coronavirus.