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What Are the Different Types of Disposable Gloves? What You Need to Know

You probably have a pair of winter gloves, but how about rubber gloves? In this day and age, with all of us dealing with COVID-19, it’s more common than ever before to see people wearing a pair on their hands. Unless you’re a medical expert, you might not realize that there are many different types. Let’s look into the history of rubber gloves, what they’re used for, and how they can help fight off bacteria and viruses. Think of this as your ultimate guide to rubber gloves. You’ll find everything you need to know!

Who Invented Rubber Gloves?

Rubber gloves were first invented by William Stewart Halsted in 1894. This was perfect timing as in the next few years influenza, cholera, and the Spanish flu would all be serious pandemics throughout the world.

This timeline shows the history of rubber gloves from the 19th century to today!


William Stewart Halsted, the surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, created the first pair of latex surgical gloves. Latex has since been banned in medical facilities due to the fact that roughly 6% of the population and 15% of healthcare workers are allergic to the material.


After prolonged wear, rubber gloves would cause itchy and dry hands. Manufacturers tried to solve this problem by lubricating the gloves with a mixture of ground moss and talcum powder. The problem? The moss was poisonous to human skin!


The first pair of disposable gloves were manufactured by the Ansell Rubber Company. Disposable options are now standard in medical facilities around the world.


Demand for rubber gloves was greater than ever with the rise of HIV in the United States. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) made it mandatory to wear them in hospitals, which caused an influx in suppliers and new materials like nitrile and vinyl.


Talcum powder was banned from being used in rubber gloves, and for good reason. It was notorious for causing inflammation and scarring after surgeries.


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made rubber gloves and hand sanitizer essential items, so a student in Bengal wisely combined both together. It’s like Spider-Man’s web shooter, but with a practical twist!

It took a lot of trial and error to find safe rubber gloves for hospitals at a time when they were desperately needed. Case in point, there was a 50% mortality risk if you had surgery! Thankfully, we seem to have finally found the right formula and are wearing good pairs of gloves today.

Did you know?

William Halsted’s wife was the first nurse to test out rubber gloves in the operating room at Johns Hopkins Hospital. This was not out of concern for patient safety, but because she wanted to protect her hands from harsh disinfectants.

What is the Use of Rubber Gloves?

Rubber gloves have come a long way since they were first invented in 1894. They have a “hand” in just about everything, whether it’s getting a tooth pulled, cleaning the dishes, or even solving major crimes.

You can use rubber gloves for the following:

  • Medical use

  • Food prep

  • Cleaning

  • Salons & spas

  • Automotive work

  • Construction

  • Security & police investigations

  • Manufacturing

  • Laboratories

  • Gardening & outdoor work

  • Child care

  • Tattoos & art projects

Tip #1: Change Your Gloves Often

You should frequently change your gloves for hygienic reasons, but it’s also a good way to avoid dry hands. Gloves get sweaty after being worn for an extended period of time, so a quick change will give your hands a little breather.

Tip #2: Wash Your Hands With Cool Water

Do yourself a favor and turn the cold water dial at the sink every time you wash your hands. Hot water isn’t proven to get rid of any extra germs, so you’re totally safe keeping things cool.

Tip #3: Apply Aloe or Moisturizer Beforehand

Apply aloe, moisturizer, or cream before you put on your gloves. You can also use natural oils, such as coconut, which helps keep your hands from cracking.

Tip #4: Stop Using Fragrant Soaps

As much as you love your lavender or vanilla-scented soap, it could be why your hands are drying out. Stick with natural ingredients instead and try not to overdo it on alcohol-based sanitizers either.

Tip #5: Pat Your Hands Dry Instead of Rubbing

Rubbing your hands is a bit too harsh and may strip your hands of their natural moisture. Try to pat your hands dry instead with a soft, clean paper towel.

Tip #6: Take an Oat Bath at Home

It may seem super weird, but Medical News Today swears taking a bath in raw or cooked oats can help rejuvenate the skin. Mix the oats with lukewarm water and soak in your tub before you go to bed.

Tip #7: Soak Your Hands Overnight

Your hands might feel raw and sore from a long day of wearing rubber gloves. Apply a moisturizing lotion or cream and slip on a pair of mittens or socks. Leave them on as you get a good night’s rest.

Tip #8: Reach Out to a Dermatologist

When all else fails, you can always make an appointment with a trusted skin specialist. They will be able to prescribe you a medication, or offer additional advice on taking care of the problem.

Can Rubber Gloves Be Recycled?

It’s extremely tricky to recycle rubber gloves because they’re often dirty or soiled. In fact, many PPE items end up in landfill, simply because they’ve been in contact with contaminants.

The good news is you can find companies out there who have green solutions. Take for example TerraCycle, a waste management company in New Jersey. The eco-friendly organization has created a Zero Waste Box for disposable gloves. You can send in latex, nitrile, vinyl, or plastic gloves, and they will sort through and see what can and can’t be recycled.

Do Rubber Gloves Help Against the Coronavirus?

Rubber gloves aren’t going to do much to slow down the spread of a virus like COVID-19, according to both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the CDC, these are all proper times for you to wear gloves:

  • While cleaning or disinfecting surfaces like tables, chairs, or the sneeze guards set up at your store

  • If you are caring for someone who is sick

  • Any time you are in contact with chemicals or bodily fluids

  • Working at a hospital, medical center, nursing home, or any other healthcare facility.

You don’t have to wear rubber gloves to the grocery store, or while running errands or interacting with strangers. It’s much better for you to be mindful of sanitary practices instead like washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

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