When Should I Worry About...

Coronavirus: Should You Be Wearing Gloves When You Leave Home?

April 20, 2020 - Katie McCallum

The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way that we do a lot of things — including how we shop for our food and everyday essentials.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommending that you wear cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing is challenging, you may also be wondering about gloves.

And after seeing so many people at the grocery store wearing them, you may be thinking: Did I miss the memo on gloves?

Should you be wearing gloves while out in public?

Right now, public health officials aren't currently recommending that you wear gloves while running essential errands.

Just as you can spread germs from your hands to the mucous membranes of your face, you can also spread germs from the gloves you're wearing to your eyes, nose and mouth. Plus, you can also still spread germs to other objects you touch — like your phone, glasses, wallet or purse.

And even if you're doing everything right to avoid cross-contamination, keep in mind that gloves are only effective if you're removing and discarding of them properly.

If you're going to wear gloves, make sure you take them off the right way

There's a right way and wrong way to remove your gloves. And if you're not taking them off the right way, as well as at the right time, you're basically undoing all of the protective advantages of them.

Follow these steps when removing your gloves:

  1. Without touching your skin, grab the first glove at your wrist and pull away from your arm.
  2. As you peel the glove downward, let it fold inside out.
  3. Hold the glove inside out with the fingers of your hand that's still gloved.
  4. Slide your ungloved fingers into the palm inside of your gloved hand, taking care to avoid touching the outside of the glove.
  5. Peel the glove downward, turning it inside out.
  6. As you peel toward your fingers, allow the second glove to wrap around the first glove.
  7. The second glove should now be inside out, with the first glove tucked inside of it.
  8. Throw the gloves away.
  9. Wash your hands thoroughly.


If you're a visual person, you can also double-check your technique by referring to the CDC's visual guide to removing gloves.

Keep in mind, you should never wear gloves more than once, and they should be removed before entering a "clean" setting or touching a "clean" surface — such as before opening your car door.

Tips for protecting yourself without the gloves

Rather than wearing gloves while running essential errands, protect yourself, and others, from getting COVID-19 through the following ways:

  • Avoid close contact with other people. Even though it's hard to do at a store, you still need to try to maintain social distancing. At the very least, make a conscious effort to put distance between yourself and others. If people are crowded in the baking aisle, circle back until the aisle is less crowded.

  • Avoid touching your face. During a pandemic, it's always important to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as often as possible — especially when you're in a public setting full of frequently touched surfaces where germs can hide.

  • Wear a cloth face covering. A cloth mask not only helps keep you safe, but it can also help keep you from spreading COVID-19 to someone else if you're sick and don't yet know it. Avoid touching your mask while it's on your face.

  • Avoid touching surfaces and items as much as possible. You need to grab your items, but that doesn't mean you need to touch and pick through every bread loaf on the shelf first. And instead of constantly touching your phone to check your grocery list, consider writing it out on a piece of paper you can toss before leaving.

  • Carry hand sanitizer. It's not always feasible to wash your hands with soap and water when you're on the go. Instead, carry your own alcohol-based hand sanitizer so you can disinfect your hands before touching your wallet or purse, your phone or getting into your car.


Concerned you may have COVID-19?

  • If you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a Virtual Urgent Care provider 24/7. The provider will help you determine if testing is needed and advise you on where you should go.

This article was updated on December 11, 2020 to reflect the current state of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Categories: When Should I Worry About...
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