You can’t wear gloves without practicing proper hand hygiene

In the dynamic environment of healthcare, maintaining a delicate balance between glove use and hand hygiene is essential. While gloves serve as a crucial barrier against contaminants, they are not fool-proof. There are many occasions when gloves are not needed and hand hygiene is completely effective in protecting you and your patients.
It is important to highlight that gloves should not be routinely worn “just in case”. (1) They also do not provide complete protection against hand contamination. Therefore, hand hygiene remains essential to guarantee hand decontamination after glove removal. (2) This blog explores the symbiotic relationship between glove use and hand hygiene, emphasizing the importance of integrating these practices seamlessly for effective infection control.

A false sense of security

The overreliance on gloves can create a false sense of security among healthcare workers. Users may believe that gloves alone are sufficient to prevent the spread of infections, neglecting other crucial aspects of hygiene. Therefore, 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 PPE. Wearing gloves is perceived as a significant risk factor for poor hand hygiene compliance and germ transmission. (3) 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.

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 with 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 (2)

Striking a Balance: Education and Training:

Comprehensive training programs should emphasize the appropriate use of gloves in conjunction with hand hygiene.
Healthcare workers need to understand the scenarios where gloves are necessary and when they should be changed. According to a study in the UK, 60% of glove use is not warranted. (3) It is reported that hand hygiene compliance of healthcare workers wearing medical gloves is much worse than when medical gloves are not worn. Wearing gloves also correlates with lower hand washing rates before and after patient contact. (4) The ‘Gloves Off’ campaign addressed by the Lead Nurse for Infection Prevention and Control and two Lead Practice Educators at Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (GOSH) focused on the over-use of non-sterile gloves through education and training. The campaign had a significant impact, resulting in environmental benefits, as well as improving staff and patient wellbeing. Staff are now following evidence-based practice rather than wearing gloves out of habit. (5)



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 functionality 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. Facilities can also use SureWash curriculum which includes a specific lesson and quiz on glove use.


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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  3. UK: 60% Wear Gloves When Not Warranted | 2016-07-12 | AHC Media:… (
  5. “The Dirty Hand in the Latex Glove”: A Study of Hand Hygiene Compliance When Gloves Are Worn | Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology | Cambridge Core
  6. NHS England » ‘The gloves are off’ campaign