Very few people take gloves off right.
And when you don’t take gloves off properly, you just get everything that was all over the gloves all over yourself and everything else. “Taking gloves off right isn’t a trivial thing,” Reynolds says. “We’ve done studies observing healthcare workers and how they remove the gloves, and about 30 percent do it wrong—and they’ve been trained.”
How to remove rubber gloves right: In a nutshell, you want to pinch one glove near the wrist and pull it over your hand so it ends up inside out. Then hold that in your gloved hand and carefully slip the fingers of your bare hand into the top of the other glove, let it turn inside out and cover the balled-up other glove. Better yet, check out this step-by-step CDC infographic. Dispose of them—“if you’re not disposing of them properly, you’re just potentially contaminating more surfaces and putting yourself at a much higher risk,” Reynolds says. Don’t skip hand washing after you take them off, even if you remove them right.
So why is it standard procedure for healthcare workers to wear gloves, but not the average person?
Healthcare workers wear gloves for short periods of time while they’re working directly with patients. If you’re one of them, Reynolds explains, “when you have gloves on, it’s for patient service; you’re not walking around the room with the gloves on touching everything. After serving the patient, you leave the gloves in the room, wash your hands, and leave the room to serve the next patient without dragging those germs with you.” It’s a completely different activity than if you’re just going to the grocery store. So for trips to the supermarket it’s the same refrain: Go (ungloved), get what you need, and wash your hands.