You can’t wear gloves without practicing proper hand hygiene

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding when and where to wear disposable gloves both in the healthcare setting and outside of it. What is important to remember is that gloves are not a substitute for hand hygiene. In the general day to day, it is not advised by the WHO or CDC to wear gloves for doing the grocery shop or other similar activities. However, in the healthcare setting, they are important for reducing infections among workers and patients, but they must be used appropriately to be effective. It is important to highlight that gloves should not be routinely worn “just in case”. (1) This can can be dangerous for the patient/client and should therefore only be worn during certain circumstances.

A false sense of security

Gloves can be hand hygiene’s worst enemy. The use of gloves does not replace the need for cleaning the hands. Although many believe that gloves remove the need for practicing hand hygiene, they actually require you to wash your hands more. Hand hygiene must always be practiced before donning and doffing gloves as it is a critical step in the safe use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Wearing gloves is perceived as a significant risk factor for poor hand hygiene compliance and germ transmission. (2) They create a false sense of security that the hands are clean, but this is not the case.

When to wear gloves

Many people decide to wear gloves “just in case”. This is because there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether gloves offer protection for people during their day to day activities. But it’s important to remember that gloves carry the virus the same way as the hands. The CDC have stated that for the general public, wearing gloves is not necessary in the majority of situations. The key times when they should be worn are when you are cleaning, or caring for someone that is sick. It is recommended that the best way to protect yourself from germs while doing your weekly shop or using the ATM is to regularly clean your hands. (3) This is the best preventative measure.

Within healthcare, the choice of wearing gloves should depend on the risk assessment of the task, the suitability of the gloves, and any risks to the patient/healthcare worker. (1) Gloves should be worn for example before a sterile procedure or when anticipating contact blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions and items visibly soiled by body fluids. But once again, this should not be considered a substitute for hand hygiene. See below the WHO glove pyramid which helps to aid decision making on when to wear and not wear gloves:


Source: WHO Glove use information leaflet (4)


Hands must be cleaned the right way at the right times. The same goes for wearing gloves; they need to be worn at the right times and donned and doffed correctly. SureWash delivers the practical side of hand hygiene training through teaching the WHO technique. However, we also have a function to deliver theory on hygiene and infection control subject matters. Through our lesson and quiz section on our training units, facilities can easily upload content regarding the use of gloves. This ensures the workers receive short learning sessions to address any gaps in learning.


All training data is then stored in the cloud for administrators to track and asses users learning progress over a period of time. It is a complete solution for facilities delivering hand hygiene training as it is convenient and helps reduce the risk of infections.


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