Wearing disposable gloves, such as nitrile, latex, vinyl, or neoprene, helps protect your hands from exposure to germs, viruses, and other contaminants. However, if you do not carefully and safely dispose of them after use, they will simply displace these contaminants to other surfaces, potentially endangering others in the process.
Knowing the proper procedure for the safe disposal of disposable gloves is essential for protecting human health.
When to Stop Using Gloves
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using disposable gloves and a mask is highly recommended to remain safe while handling potentially contaminated objects or materials.
However, you may have noticed that the CDC guidelines recommend you wash your hands immediately after you’re finished handling these objects. The reason is simple: contaminants (germs, viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens) remain on the gloves once touched, and wearing them for prolonged periods risks displacing or transferring them onto other surfaces, negating the advantages of wearing gloves.
Additionally, just like with face masks, the longer a disposable glove is worn, the higher the chances of losing its structural integrity and developing tears or holes. Therefore, it is safe to assume that any pair of gloves used to touch a potentially contaminated surface is contaminated. If you notice a hole or a tear, remove your gloves immediately, wash your hands, and switch to a new pair.
Remove your gloves and follow the disposal process as soon as your task is complete. If it is lengthy, take breaks every 20 or 30 minutes (if possible) to dispose of your current pair of gloves and switch to a clean pair.
How to Remove Contaminated Gloves
Every time you wish to remove your disposable gloves, use the following procedure:
Pinch the outside edge of your dominant hand’s glove near the cuff or the wrist. Ensure you avoid touching the inside of the glove or any tears or holes.
With the glove pinched, peel your dominant hand’s glove off your hand carefully, turning it inside-out as it comes off your hand.
While holding the removed glove in your still-gloved hand, slide two ungloved fingers under the second glove’s cuff, again ensuring you avoid touching the outside of the glove or any tears and holes.
Peel off the second glove from the inside while still holding the first, forming a ball with the used gloves.
While pinching the glove-ball from the inside, discard the gloves into an appropriate container.
Where to Dispose of Your Gloves
In a medical setting, what counts as an appropriate disposal container depends on whether the gloves have visibly come in contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, or nasal mucus.
If they haven’t, you can dispose of your gloves in any trash can or garbage disposal container, as long as it is equipped with a plastic liner.
However, if they have, your gloves should now be treated as biohazard waste, the same as used needles, syringes, medical sharps, and other substances capable of carrying pathogens.
In that case, following safe biohazard disposal procedures becomes necessary:
After following the safe removal procedure, drop the contaminated gloves into an appropriate marked plastic bag, such as a yellow or pink biohazard waste plastic bag.
If you don’t have access to biohazard waste plastic bags, you may use a regular plastic bag instead. However, you will need to apply an appropriate label or sticker, such as a Hazard Class 6 – Infectious Substance placard.
Tie the bag as tightly as possible without tearing or damaging it.
If you have a large quantity of bags to dispose of, or if your bags are at risk of leaking, you may place them into another, larger bag, as long as it is appropriately labeled.
Deposit the bag at an appropriate facility, such as a waste accumulation site (verify that they accept biohazardous waste) or a facility offering dedicated biohazard waste disposal services. If none is available in your area, contact a local hospital, pharmacy, doctor’s office and ask if you can deposit your bags at an appropriate collection point.
Protect Your Health With ICU Production, Inc.
Regardless of your application, sourcing your gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) from a trusted manufacturer is critical to ensure they protect you and your environment.