Can I disinfect my latex gloves? Is that true?
The short answer is YES!
When can I sanitize my gloves? Why? How?
We will provide all the answers you need for these questions and many more… keep reading!
The novel coronavirus pandemic, known as COVID-19, was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the WHO (PHEIC). 
By March 26, 2020,
- 81,321 confirmed illnesses
- over 1,000 deaths
The United States has officially become the pandemic’s worst-affected country, and more cases were recorded in China, Italy, and other countries at that time. 
Things messed up! And this period was challenging and frustrating, as the news was revealed everywhere!
The PPE shortage problem!
Then, we began to hear for the first time in the world that there is a shortage of personal protective gear such as gloves and face masks related to the pandemic and the massive influx of infected individuals in hospitals.
Medical personnel began to consider additional alternatives for getting the task done…
As a response, various perspectives emerged; one of these was the reuse of disposable gloves for multiple patients.
Som reuse usually means disinfecting latex gloves, for example.
However, how can healthcare professionals do that without endangering the patients and themselves?
That is the topic of discussion today in this article. So please take a deep breath and try to read slowly.
Hopefully, you will find it enjoyable.
Types of Medical disposable gloves
First, let’s start with a quick overview of the different medical disposable gloves available on the market.
Medical gloves protect patients and caregivers from harmful substances and pathogens while preventing cross-contamination.
There are numerous different disposable glove choices available to meet various demands.
However, disposable gloves are most commonly made of polymers such as latex, vinyl, and nitrile, but they could also be available as neoprene gloves. 
They are the most frequently used disposable gloves in the medical field.
Because they lessen the chances of latex allergy reactions and are highly durable, minimizing the risk of the gloves’ being capable of penetrating while in use.
More about nitrile gloves? Click here.
They are widely used as a low-cost, latex-free substitute for Nitrile gloves.
Thus, they are commonly used in non-hazardous environments where the risk of infection is low because of their low cost and low level of protection.
Neoprene gloves are made from a synthetic rubber called chloroprene.
They are highly flexible and protect against oils, flames, heat, and many other harmful environmental factors.
Moreover, They also protect against abrasion, hydraulic fluids, and organic acids.
Last but not least, the latex gloves were picked for this article.
They are made from a natural material, rubber latex.
1. What are the advantages of latex gloves?
Disposable latex gloves are very affordable and a popular choice in the healthcare industry and other industries such as food processing, janitorial, public health sanitation, automotive, and manufacturing.
However, the primary use of latex gloves is to be used for surgical procedures and other invasive medical procedures.
Commonly, healthcare personnel is usually using this type of gloves to treat patients in high-risk situations involving bodily fluids, blood, and infectious diseases.
Therefore, they significantly help reduce bacterial and viral transmission rates in medical settings and prevent the transmission of certain diseases such as AIDS, Hepatitis B, and C via blood or bodily fluids.
2. Powdered or Powder-Free Latex Gloves?
Cornstarch makes powdered latex gloves simpler to put on and take off.
Therefore, this keeps the gloves from adhering to your hands, which is particularly important once they are sweating.
On the other hand, Latex gloves with no powder will not leave a sticky residue on your hands, tools, or equipment.
Moreover, it is also essential to note that people with latex sensitivities will appreciate the lack of cornstarch.
3. Sterile or Non-Sterile Gloves?
Latex sterile examination and surgical gloves are primarily used for surgical and medical procedures.
Compared to sterile gloves, non-sterile gloves are the most cost-effective, non-invasive procedure option.
Therefore, they are the most popular in many applications.
Rubber latex gloves are formed from a natural substance.
They are an excellent choice for their durability, and many users find them comfortable to wear in different industries, especially in the medical and surgical fields.
Due to the increased incidence of latex allergies for many health workers, powder-free gloves are also available and are very popular in the food service industry.
Because they do not leave a messy residue on your hands, tools, or equipment.
Is it possible to re-use a disposable glove?
During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged that demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as medical gloves, may outstrip supply.
Therefore, on their website, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a letter to health care organizations and personnel about a conservative strategy for using personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically disposable medical gloves. 
As it was initially written on their website,
“Use medical gloves beyond the manufacturer-designated shelf life in a setting where there is a lower risk of transmission if feasible (for example, non-surgical, non-sterile, patients with no known COVID 19 diagnosis)
The user should visibly inspect the gloves before use and discard the gloves if there are concerns (for example, discolored or visible tears or holes).
Extend the use of medical gloves without changing the gloves between patients with no known infectious diseases.
Gloved hands should be cleaned between patients and at other times when hand hygiene is usually performed during routine patient care. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may degrade vinyl gloves.
If a glove becomes damaged (for example, discolored, deteriorated, visible tears, holes), contaminated (for example, body fluids, chemotherapy drugs) or no longer provides a liquid barrier, replace it.”
How can I disinfect latex gloves?
Disposable latex gloves should also be worn only once.
This is also the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
Disposable medical gloves should always be discarded after:
- Maximum of four hours of continuous use
- Any signs of damage (e.g., holes, rips, tearing) or degradation are observed
- Visible soiling or contamination with blood, respiratory or nasal secretions or other body fluids occurs
But, as we stated before, this technique may need to be considered in times of severe disposable medical glove shortages.
For this reason, the world has started to extend the use of disposable gloves between patients or tasks.
Then, how should a used glove be appropriately disinfected?
Notably, This is most easily applied when patients are cohorted, such as when caring for a group of patients with the same confirmed infectious disease diagnosis (e.g., patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection).
Hands must be cleaned and sanitized before and after wearing gloves, as is standard.
However, before the beginning of an examination, healthcare professionals should check gloves for signs of damage or degradation, the same as before sanitizing gloves.
It is critical to understand that the gloves should be discarded immediately if damage or degradation is detected.
Also, after sanitizing gloves, healthcare professionals should recheck gloves each time for any signs of damage or degradation.
If anything is observed, stop using the gloves and throw them away!
Finally, as detailed on the CDC website, here are the approaches for sanitizing gloved hands for extended use of disposable medical gloves.
In the event of a severe shortage of disposable latex gloves, HCPs may re-use clean, undamaged gloves only when caring for patients with the same diagnosis.
HCPs should always care for hand hygiene standards and check for any es damage between sanitizing intervals.
Disposable latex gloves disinfection methods
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Research has shown that you may be able to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer on high-quality medical-grade gloves material such as nitrile or latex.
They can withstand up to six (6) applications of ABHS before becoming otherwise ineffective or contaminated.
Soap and water
If ABHS is not available, regular soap and water may work.
Moreover, washing disposable latex gloves up to ten times is possible.
However, this disinfection method may be impractical if you use short-cuffed gloves. Water may seep into the worn gloves and remain trapped, affecting their structural stability and irritating the skin.
Diluted bleach solution as a disinfectant
Limited data show that specific brands of medical nitrile gloves tested per ASTM F739-12 standards do not show permeation when applying a bleach solution (10-13%).
Please put on the gloves, check them for damage, then immerse them in a diluted bleach solution for at least 5 seconds, being careful that the bleach does not come into contact with your skin.
With hands facing down, leave the solution on the gloves for at least one minute before rinsing with water. They may survive up to ten times before showing signs of damage or being contaminated.
Procedures of Preparing Diluted Bleach: 
- Examine the bleach bottle’s concentration.
- When diluting or using bleach, keep windows open to promote proper ventilation.
- When diluting bleach, use cold water because heated water decomposes the active ingredient, making it ineffective.
- Mix and store bleach solutions in plastic containers, as metal containers corrode quickly and weaken the bleach.
- Because chlorine solutions deteriorate over time, freshly diluted obtained by dissolving 5.25 % chlorine must be prepared regularly.
- Because bleach decomposes when exposed to heat, keep it away from direct sunlight.
- If the sodium hypochlorite concentration is 5.25 percent, the amount of bleach added is one part to nine parts water, to be used within 24 hours.
As a conservative method, you can disinfect your latex gloves and reuse them only under certain conditions.
For disinfecting disposable latex gloves, HCPs can use ABHS, soap, water, or a diluted bleach solution.
Effect of disinfectants on gloves’ physical properties
Results showed that the barrier properties of the gloves would be affected by applying any disinfectant over time.
Disposable latex gloves and their barrier properties may impact their suitability for a specific application.
Besides, disinfecting your latex gloves or any other type made them sticky and increased their porosity, making it possible for infectious agents to stay on the gloves or contact the skin.
As a result, they reduce the protective capacities of most disposable gloves, which develop tears and pinholes over time and should be changed as soon as they are detected.
Because some healthcare providers are forced to conserve their glove supply in certain circumstances, various alternatives have been demonstrated to be somewhat successful, even if only for a limited time.
For this reason, research began, and organizations acted as quickly as possible to aid in the understanding of new strategies in the case of emergencies.
Latex, vinyl, nitrile gloves, and neoprene gloves are standard medical disposable glove options.
The most prominent material used in disposable medical gloves is polymers, which provide a smooth texture that allows quick and easy fitting.
Therefore, disinfection materials can drastically alter the physical properties of the gloves over time.
According to the CDC’s suggested disinfection procedure for disposable latex gloves;
- They can only survive six applications of ABHS
- Ten washes with soap and water
- Or ten washes with a diluted bleach solution (10 –13 percent) before becoming ineffective or contaminated.
In the end, the repeated disinfectant application causes disposable medical gloves to disintegrate and develop pinholes over time, requiring replacement.
I’d recommend reading this interesting article about How robust antimicrobial gloves are at smashing microbes on contact?…click here!