You Should Only Wear Gloves When Doing These Two Things, the CDC Says

Wearing gloves every day to protect yourself from the coronavirus isn't actually expert-recommended.

The coronavirus has everyone taking extra safety precautions every single day. From wearing face masks to regular hand washing, people are doing their best to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, not all the things people are doing to protect themselves and others are necessarily the best practices. Take, for example, wearing gloves. Many people are wearing gloves whenever they go out to buy groceries or pick up takeout. But it turns out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn't actually suggest wearing gloves for these everyday activities. Instead, the CDC only recommends wearing gloves in two situations to avoid getting sick: when you are cleaning and when you are caring for someone who's ill.

When you are routinely cleaning or disinfecting your home to keep the coronavirus at bay, the CDC says you should "follow precautions listed on the disinfectant product label, which may include wearing gloves." If you're caring for someone who is sick at home, the CDC says you should also use disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting the area around the person and any other surfaces they may have come in contact with.

"Use disposable gloves when touching or having contact with blood, stool, or body fluids, such as saliva, mucus, vomit, and urine. After using disposable gloves, throw them out in a lined trash can. Do not disinfect or reuse the gloves," the CDC states. And any time you remove your gloves, you should be washing your hands with soap and water.

Cropped shot of a woman cleaning a kitchen counter at home

Leann Poston, MD, medical expert for Ikon Health, says the reason that the CDC doesn't advocate for the everyday use of gloves is because "gloves sometimes give a false sense of security or protection."

"If you wear gloves in situations that do not have an obvious start and stopping point, you forget that your gloves are contaminated," Poston explains. "People put on gloves, go shopping, use their cell phones, touch their faces, enter their cars and homes, and then remove their gloves. Their hands were covered, but they cross-contaminated everything they touched. It is easier to forget about cross-contamination when wearing gloves. You are much more aware of what you touch when your hands are bare."

And it's not only wearing the gloves that cause a problem—it's taking them off, too. Poston says "incorrect removal of contaminated gloves, improper disposal of gloves, and failure to wash your hands after removing gloves" further the possibility of spreading the coronavirus. "It is better to not wear gloves, be aware of what you are touching to prevent cross-contamination, and use soap and water or hand sanitizer as you transition from one environment to the next," she says.

So, how does the CDC recommend that you stay safe in public, if not by wearing gloves? When going about your day to day activities amid the pandemic, the experts at the CDC suggest that instead of wearing gloves, you "practice everyday preventive actions," like maintaining a social distance of at least six feet, washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, and wearing a cloth face covering. And for more safety tips regarding your PPE correctly, check out 7 Things You Should Never Be Doing With Your Face Mask.

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