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Do We Really Need to Wear Gloves to the Grocery Store?

They may be doing more harm than good.


We’re all trying our best to stay healthy and sane as we wait out the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, but it can be tricky to know exactly which measures we really need to take. By now you probably know that the CDC is encouraging everyone to wear face masks when they need to run essential errands, like picking up groceries. But what about gloves? 

Well, according to experts, slipping on gloves won’t really help you when it comes to this pandemic. “While gloves might seemingly create a barrier between your hands and infected surfaces, they do not prevent COVID-19 infection, because you can still touch your face with your gloved hands,” Jaimie Meyer, MD, told Health

Gloves aren’t magically making germs disappear after you touch something — they hold onto bacteria and viruses just like our hands, but can give us a false sense of protection. Even if you manage not to touch your face with them on, you might put yourself at risk if you don’t know how to properly take them off or skip washing your hands after wearing them. You might also do things like check your phone or hold your wallet with the gloved hands, and then touch those items again without the gloves and get exposed to the germs you were trying to avoid anyway.

Molly Lixey, a former emergency room nurse from Michigan, shared a helpful video explaining how cross contamination like that can happen so easily:

As she also mentions in the video, many people are making things worse by littering parking lots with their used gloves instead of tossing them in trash cans. Who do you think has to clean up those piles of gloves after you drive away? The same grocery store employees we’re all relying on to stock shelves and ring up the items we need to keep our kitchens full and our houses clean. They’re already more vulnerable just by showing up to work, so potentially exposing them to germs is not a great way to say “thank you.”

If you still feel safer wearing gloves while you shop, you should not only be sure to throw them away properly and avoid touching your face, but also take a look at the CDC’s guide for removing them safely. And of course, continue to wash your hands frequently!

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