Glove Selection

Skin adsorption is the most common route of exposure for lab workers. Because of this, choosing the right glove for your research is one of the most important laboratory safety decisions you can make. Not all gloves are equal and the material should be considered when making your choice. The following information will help determine your hazard and help you select an appropriate glove for protection.

Step What to do How to do it
1 Identify the hazards of the materials being worked with
  • Base selection of glove type and a material on the type of exposure and nature of the chemical. Some chemicals can easily penetrate gloves that work very well for other chemicals. (Link to Chemical compatibility) (Diamond Grip and other) Consider these factors
    • Chemical type
    • Temperature extremes
    • Equipment (sharps, piercing objects)
    • pH
    • Toxicity
  • Read the Material Safety Data Sheet for each chemical Involved

MSDSs Link //

2 Determine contact time (long or short term)
  • Incidental contact (little or no direct contact ) includes these situations:
    • Accidental spills or splashes
    • Accidental overspray from a dispensing device
    • Handling infectious agents that require barrier protection
    • To prevent contamination of materials by employees
      Incidental contact, go to Step 3
  • Extended Contact includes the following situations:
    • Handling highly contaminated materials
    • Submerging hands in a chemical or other hazardous substance
      Extended contact, go to Step 4.
3 For incidental contact
  • Type of glove: Disposable, surgical-type gloves are appropriate for incidental contact.
    • Nitrile gloves are preferred over latex because of the chemical resistance, their tendency to rip when puncture, and possible latex allergies
    • See the Glove Selection Chart for help in selecting glove material.
  • Disposable glove usage:
    • Check for rips or puncture before use.
    • Remove and replace gloves immediately when a chemical spills or splashes on them.
    • Never wash or reuse disposable gloves
4 For extended Contact
  • Type of glove: More Substantial gloves are required for extended use
    • Norfoil or Sivershield gloves are recommended for highly toxic materials and materials that are absorbed through the skin
    • See the Glove Selection Chart for help in selecting glove material
  • Reusable glove usage: Many gloves intended for extended contact are reusable.
    Check the gloves for:
    • Rips or punctures are before and after each use
    • Prior contamination
    • Signs of degradation (change in color or texture)
  • Care Instructions
    • Replace gloves as soon as signs of degradation appear
    • Wash after removal and air dry in the laboratory
    • Always wear inner surgical gloves for extra protection.
5 Disposal of Gloves
  • After Use
  • Discard gloves when contaminated
    • Chemical
    • Biological
    • Radioactive

The type of chemical to be used is the most important factor for selecting gloves. The chemical resistance of the glove is based on degradation, permeation, and exposure.

Degradation is the measurement of the physical deterioration of the glove due to contact with the chemical. The material may get harder, stiffer, softer, or may swell.

Permeation is the result of molecular diffusion of a chemical through a glove material.

Exposure is the length of time the glove will be in contact with the chemical. (Protection against splashes verses submersion in the chemical).

Glove Use

Using the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) correctly is another link in the chain of keeping a person safe. If the PPE is not worn or used correctly then it may not offer the expected protection to the user. Below are guidelines for putting on (donning) and removing gloves (doffing), as well as the appropriate times and places to wear gloves.

Donning Gloves

  1. Wash hand before putting gloves on.
  2. Remove all jewelry from hands.
  3. Pick up one glove with the right hand.
  4. Line the thumb side of the glove up with the thumb side of the left hand.
  5. Slip the open end of the glove over the left hand and thumb.
  6. Stretch the palm side of the glove with the right hand, pulling the glove on to finger level.
  7. Position the fingers of the glove in line with the fingers of the left hand.
  8. Pull the remainder of the glove onto the left hand.
  9. Pick up the second glove with the gloved left hand.
  10. Line the thumb side of the glove up with the thumb side of the right hand.
  11. Slip the open end of the glove over the right hand and thumb.
  12. Stretch the palm side of the glove with the left hand, pull the glove on to finger level.
  13. Position the fingers of the glove in line with fingers of the right hand.
  14. Pull the remainder of the glove onto the right hand.
  15. Proceed with activity requiring gloves.

Doffing Gloves

There are two standard methods to taking off gloves. Method One for glove removal is recommended, because it is harder for a person to become contaminated. However, if Method Two can be done without causing contamination, use the easiest method. Below are both methods.

Method One


  1. Grasp one of the gloves and cuff and pull it partway off. The glove will turn inside out. It is important to keep the first glove partially on your hand before removing the second glove. This protects you from touching the outside of either glove with your bare hands.
  2. Leaving the first glove over your fingers, grasp the second glove near the cuff and pull it part of the way off. The glove will turn inside out. It is important to keep the second glove partially on your hand to protect you form touching the outside surface of the first glove with your bare hand.
  3. Pull off the two gloves at the same time, being careful to touch only the inside surfaces of the gloves with your bare hands.
  4. Dispose of the gloves by placing inside out in the trash.
  5. Wash hands thoroughly.

Method Two

  1. Grasp outside edge near wrist.
  2. Peel away from hand turning glove inside-out.
  3. Hold in opposite gloved hand.
  4. Slide ungloved finger under the wrist of the remaining glove, be careful not to touch the outside of the glove.
  5. Peel off from inside, creating a bag for both gloves.
  6. Discard.
  7. Wash hands thoroughly.

Do’s and Don’ts of Glove Use

  • Work from clean to dirty—this will help prevent contamination
  • Don’t touch your face or adjust PPE with contaminated gloves
  • Don’t touch environmental surfaces – doorknobs, keyboards, computer mouse. This means when leaving the laboratory TAKE OFF YOUR GLOVES. If you need to wear a glove in the hallway to carry a sample, make sure that the gloved hand is carrying the sample and the non gloved hand is operating door handles, elevator buttons, etc.
  • Change gloves when heavily soiled or if they are torn.
  • Discard gloves after use, never wash or reuse disposable gloves.

Hand Lotion and Glove Use

Usually hand lotions that contain petroleum products are incompatible with latex gloves. The can accelerate the deterioration process which can increase penetration of chemicals and viruses. However, if you suffer from dry skin, there is hope with the following product.

Derma Moisturizing Lotion for Extremely Dry Skin
Harmony Laboratories Inc.
Landis, NC 28088
Active Ingredient: Dimethicone, 1.0%

A more complete guide on specific chemicals and materials can be found at the following links.

Occupational Health And Safety

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