Gloves Won't Protect You From Coronavirus If You Make These Mistakes

Covering your hands can help keep you safe, but only if you use your gloves properly.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many people are using disposable gloves on a daily basis to limit their chances of contracting COVID-19. And while wearing protective equipment properly may lower your risk of coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, making even a minor error with your gloves can actually put you in harm's way without you even realizing it. If you want to protect yourself and others, read on to discover the mistakes you can't afford to keep making when it comes to using disposable gloves for coronavirus prevention. And for more ways to stay safe, check out these 7 Face Mask Care Mistakes You're Making.

You use hand cream before you put your gloves on.

black hands pumping lotion
Shutterstock/Vladimir Gjorgiev

While your hands may be dry from repeated washings, using hand cream before putting on your gloves could cause more problems than it solves. According to Infection Control Today, oil-based lotions and creams can cause the breakdown of latex gloves, potentially allowing in bacteria or viruses.

You put hand sanitizer on the outside of your gloves.

hand in blue gloves spraying hand sanitizer
Shutterstock/Kathrine Andi

Hand sanitizer may be good for decontaminating your skin, but using it on the outside of your gloves is a mistake.

"Using strong chemicals can significantly reduce the effectiveness of some types of gloves," explains dental surgeon Mike Golpa, DDS, CEO of G4byGolpa dental implant centers. Hand sanitizer may create tiny holes in your gloves, which may also mean that bacteria and viruses are able to make their way onto your skin. Golpa recommends checking the manufacturer recommendations before using anything on the outside of your gloves. And for more health tips, discover these 21 Coronavirus Myths You Need to Stop Believing, According to Doctors.

You wear gloves that you've worn shopping when you drive home.

hands in blue gloves holding steering wheel
Shutterstock/VK Studio

Using gloves while you're grocery shopping could be giving you a false sense of security when you're out and about.

If you're reaching for your keys or opening your car door with that same pair of gloves afterward, "you have brought germs from the store environment onto every surface you just touched," explains oncology nurse Lindsey McDonald RN, BSN, MSN. "This raises your chances of COVID-19 coming home with you." To protect yourself, McDonald recommends removing and throwing away your gloves when you're done shopping and before touching anything else, including your car door and steering wheel.

You touch your phone with gloves you've worn while shopping.

hand in blue gloves holding phone

You may not think twice about using your phone while shopping, but you should be changing your gloves before touching your device or using it to make a call.

If you don't, you're exposing yourself to all of the surfaces you just came into contact with. "You've basically touched the germs from the grocery store and transferred them onto your phone that is now touching your face," explains Nabila Ismail, PharmD.

You open a package with gloves and keep wearing them.

white person in latex gloves opening cardboard box
Shutterstock/Tony Skerl

While coronavirus can only survive a few days on surfaces like cardboard, that doesn't mean you can safely continue wearing the gloves you just used to open your package.

"While the germs are on your gloves, they've been transferred over to everything you've touched," says Ismail. "Unless you use your gloves only to pick up a package or to handle one item, it's not really in your best interest [to keep them on]," she explains.

You wear gloves after touching your face.

white man coughing into gloved hand
Shutterstock/Pearl PhotoPix

With so many asymptomatic coronavirus carriers out there, you're putting both yourself and others at risk if you keep wearing your gloves after touching your face. You could be transferring the virus from yourself to other surfaces.

And the reverse is also true. If you touch your face after you've been wearing your gloves, you're putting yourself in danger.

"When we touch a contaminated surface and then our face, it doesn't matter if we are wearing gloves or not—germs are transmitted anyway," says Golpa. To learn techniques to use at the sink after you take off your gloves, check out The Best Way to Wash Your Hands to Prevent Getting Sick.

You keep wearing your gloves after cooking with oil.

gloved hands marinating a piece of meat

It's not just the oils in cosmetic products that could make your gloves less effective. According to a 2005 study conducted at the Atlantic College of Therapeutic Massage, coconut, palm, and vegetable oils can all break down latex gloves and reduce their efficacy against the transmission of bacteria and viruses. For more vital health information, check out The 7 Strangest Coronavirus Symptoms You Need to Know About.

You wear the same gloves after working on your car.

adding fluids to car while wearing gloves

If you're wearing your gloves after tinkering with your car, you could be putting yourself in harm's way. According to Glove Nation, neither latex nor vinyl gloves are fully resistant to gasoline, diesel fuel, or brake fluid, potentially creating holes in the gloves that the virus can pass through. And if you want to focus more on wellness during self-isolation, start with these 23 Easy Ways You Can Be a Healthier Person During Quarantine.

You reuse your gloves.

woman putting on gloves in supermarket aisle
Shutterstock/EA March

While "reduce, reuse, recycle" may be a good motto for other goods, it doesn't hold true for disposable gloves. It's right in the name—they're not meant to be used more than once.

"Disposable gloves wear out really quickly, so if we use them another time, they won't protect our hands from contamination," explains Golpa.

You don't dispose of your gloves properly.

blue plastic glove on street
Shutterstock/Georgios Karkavitsas

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their gloves occurs after they've stopped wearing them. "When you finish using a pair of gloves, throw them in the garbage," says health coach and medical acupuncturist Jamie Bacharach, Dipl.Ac. "Leaving used gloves on a table, counter, or floor only compounds the likelihood of the bacteria on the gloves finding [its] way to you."

In fact, the improper disposal of protective equipment has become such a problem—and potential health hazard—that numerous cities have implemented steep fines to stop littering, with Yorktown, New York, increasing its fine to $1,000 and Swampscott, Massachusetts, charging up to $5,500 for a first offense.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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