Covid-19 advice from the HSE

Wearing disposable gloves - beneficial or not?

Leitrim Observer Reporter


Leitrim Observer Reporter

Rise in disposable gloves littered in shopping trollies and car parks a public health risk

There is a correct way to use and remove single use gloves.

If you go to the supermarkets these days it is not uncommon to see people wearing single use disposable gloves, however, the HSE is warning against the use of disposable gloves if you are doing this instead of regularly washing your hands.

Here is the official advice on wearing disposable gloves from the HSE:

Disposable gloves

Do not wear disposable gloves instead of washing your hands. The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.

Disposable gloves are worn in medical settings. They are not as effective in daily life.

Wearing disposable gloves can give you a false sense of security.

You might:

- sneeze or cough into the gloves - this creates a new surface for the virus to live on
- contaminate yourself when taking off the gloves or touching surfaces
- not wash your hands as often as you need to and touch your face with contaminated gloves

Concerns raised beyond the HSE advice

If you are wearing disposable gloves, putting them on at home, then getting into your car, going into different shops and then getting in your vehicle and driving home, without ever changing your gloves, you are simply transferring the contaminants you encounter in public into your car and ultimately, your home.

Think about what you do when you are not wearing gloves. If you are following best practice you will apply hand sanitiser or wash your hands before leaving home. When you enter a store you will again sanitise your hands and, after handling produce in that store, you will once again wash your hands at the stations set up before leaving the store and entering your vehicle. This means you have minimised the risk of spreading contaminants between your car and the store. You are also ensuring that you are not carrying contaminants from one store into another and then into your car and home.

Wearing gloves can give you the belief that you are protected and you don't need to wash your hands. This is not the case.

Some people however, feel more reassured by using gloves. But, if you are wearing disposable gloves you must follow best practice and you must remove them and replace them with a new pair at each store you enter. You must clean your hands thoroughly before applying new gloves and you must ensure you remove them and properly dispose of them before entering your vehicle to go home. If you fail to do this you are just bringing contaminants to other shops and into your own personal spaces and transferring them from one surface to another inside different shops. 

Never reuse the same disposable gloves over and over in different locations and across different days. 

How to safely remove single-use gloves

Be aware of the correct procedure for removing gloves to avoid contamination: Here is the HSE guide to the correct removal of single use gloves.