Can you clean and reuse disposable gloves?

Seemingly a budget-friendly solution, is it even effective?

Can you clean and reuse disposable gloves?
Disposable gloves raise a number of concerns.

To get the most use out of their disposable gloves, some people have taken to cleaning and reusing them. While this may do in a pinch, is this something that people should even be doing? Is it effective? Could it even be counter-productive?

Furthermore, while there is no question that disposable gloves are needed in many industries (especially in the current climate), there is also debate around whether one should even be using disposable gloves at home.

Experts have questioned whether wearing gloves to take public transport or go grocery shopping is even effective.

Disposable gloves have been in high demand throughout the pandemic alongside other bits of key PPE like surgical masks and N95 respirators.

You may remember that there were massive PPE shortages at the beginning of the pandemic. And limited supplies were reserved for frontline workers, notably healthcare workers. Thankfully, stocks have since increased and key supplies like face masks and gloves are more easy to come by and readily accessible to the general public.

In fact, a recent study revealed that demand for disposable gloves had “spiraled” since the onset of the pandemic last year. Even after the pandemic will (hopefully) be over, demand will continue to grow.

“With personal hygiene and safety gaining serious prominence, demand for disposable gloves is skyrocketing. Furthermore, various governmental rules, regulations, and initiatives are favoring manufactures in increasing their sales footprint,” said one of Fact.MR’s report analysts.

Aside from efficacy, there are also ecological concerns. The massive use of disposable PPE to combat the pandemic is likely having a hugely negative effect on the environment. More and more companies are looking toward biodegradable or reusable options to ease the strain.

So with all that said, should you be cleaning and reusing your disposable gloves?

In short, the answer is no, and here is why.

Washing disposable gloves is not a good idea

Speaking with Green Matters, general surgeon Dr. Charles W. Page says that disposable gloves are generally too fragile to reuse and that you’re more likely to tear them while trying. Furthermore, he says that – within the context of COVID-19 especially – the way you would remove them to be able to use them might lead to you accidentally transfer bacteria outside the gloves.

Experts agree that it’s ultimately better to simply wash your hands rather than trying to clean or reuse disposable gloves.

Don’t reuse the disposable gloves

As mentioned above, the efforts to clean and reuse disposable gloves are ultimately not worth it – with one of the biggest risks being that the wearer risks contaminating themselves if they don’t remove them properly. Not to mention that there are perfectly acceptable reusable solutions out there!

Though PPE like gloves or masks play a huge part in preventing the spread of COVID-19, if not disposed of properly they could actually potentially spread the virus.

A false sense of security

Wearing disposable gloves (or any kind of gloves for that matter) may give the wearer a false sense of security. Speaking with the Huffington Post, Lucy Wilson, the chair of the department of emergency health services at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, says:

“It could give you a false sense of security so you might let your guard down in other ways, such as social distancing, hand hygiene. And there’s a question of whether people who don’t have gloves may actually wash their hands more because they are more conscious of their hands touching surfaces.”

Cleaning your hands is better than using disposable gloves

In a March 2020 Facebook post, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that regularly washing your hands offers more protection against catching COVID-19 than wearing gloves.

In addition the WHO says that you can still pick up COVID-19 contamination on the gloves themselves, and if you then touch your face then the contamination goes from glove to face and be potentially infectious.

Use disposable gloves when cleaning

Nevertheless, there are situations in which disposable gloves might come in handy, for example the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that people use gloves while disinfecting high-touch surfaces in their home – and then discard them after cleaning.

Ultimately, PPE plays an essential role when protecting against COVID-19 – especially in the workplace. Though there may be debate around whether cleaning and reusing disposable gloves is at all useful, they are still essential equipment for a number of workers. When it comes to personal use, it is up to you to make an informed decision about which option is the safest for you.