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Rubber gloves

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Title: Rubber gloves  
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Rubber gloves

A rubber glove is a glove made out of rubber. Rubber gloves can be unsupported (rubber only) or supported (rubber coating of textile glove). Its primary purpose is protection of the hands while performing tasks involving chemicals. Rubber gloves are worn during dishwashing to protect the hands from detergent and allow the use of hotter water. Sometimes caregivers will use rubber gloves during the diaper changing process to prevent contact with the child's fecal material/urine. Health professionals use medical gloves rather than rubber gloves when performing surgical operations.


In 1889, William Stewart Halsted, the first chief of surgery at John Hopkins Hospital, invented rubber gloves in order to prevent medical staff from catching dermatitis from surgical chemicals.[1]

Household use

Household rubber gloves have been used for washing dishes and cleaning in the home since the 1960s. Many different designs of gloves have been available in a multitude of colors but traditional designs in yellow or pink with long cuffs. While these still remain the most popular patterns today, gloves can be obtained that range from wrist-length to those that are shoulder-length. There are even gloves that are pre-attached to shirts and bodysuits for added protection.

Rubber gloves are best worn with a skin tight fit which, while still allowing for the hands to breathe, makes it easier to hold objects and manipulate them. The palms and fingers usually have a raised pattern which helps provide a good grip when handling objects. Wearing gloves protects the hands from harsh detergents and other cleaning products which are used in the home and elsewhere. Despite promises to the contrary, most dishwashing liquids do not leave those hands-that-do-dishes feeling as soft as your face, especially after you've done the dishes. Generally speaking, gloves are required while washing the dishes. Rubber gloves also protect the wearer from bacteria involved in such tasks as the cleaning of toilets and cleaning up after pets.

These gloves are traditionally used by people cleaning in the home but are also popular with professional cleaners and for clearing up in shops, cafes and other public places. The thickness of the gloves and the long cuffs provide excellent protection for all general cleaning tasks and are useful for all chores where the hands need to be put into water, but also provide protection when vacuuming, dusting, and polishing.

The most common material used for making household gloves is latex, a form of rubber. Usually, the gloves have a cotton "flock" lining for easily taking them on and off. However, unlined gloves feel better on the skin and provide a greater ability to manipulate things. They are also available in a wider range of colors and cuff lengths. Problems with latex rubber include allergic reactions and poor protection against such substances as solvents. Other materials used to alleviate this are PVC, nitrile, and neoprene. Natural rubber that has been chemically treated to reduce the amount of antibody generators, such as Vytex Natural Rubber Latex, can be used to produce a glove that retains the properties of traditional rubber while exposing the user to significantly reduced amounts of latex allergens.

Gloves are also primarily used in the Foodservice Industry for minimizing contact with ready to eat foods. Many states have implemented laws regarding the mandatory use of disposable gloves in the restaurant industry. Generally, foodservice employees are required to wash hands before starting work or putting on single-use gloves. Due to the incidence of latex allergies, many people switch to vinyl or nitrile gloves. Poly gloves are also a very inexpensive alternative. Latex, Vinyl and Nitrile gloves are available in Powder and Powder Free. The powder in the gloves are made of USDA cornstarch. Powder Free gloves are generally more expensive that powdered gloves because gloves must be powdered to be removed from the mold they are made on. The majority of disposable gloves are manufactured overseas in such countries as China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Gloves are also sometimes used in childcare during the diapering/ toileting process to protect the caregiver from coming in contact with the child's fecal material/urine, fecal matter in particular as it is known to carry many diseases. Many caregivers use gloves as they are "grossed out" from touching the child's buttocks or genitals when wiping, or applying creams.

Use to hide fingerprints

Criminals have also been known to wear them during the commission of their crimes. They're often chosen because of their tight, thin fit that allows the hands to remain dexterous. Ironically, because of their thinness, fingerprints may actually pass through as glove prints, thus transferring the wearer's prints onto whatever surface is touched/handled.[2][3]


Karen Wetterhahn was killed by mercury poisoning after a few drops of dimethylmercury landed on her glove during an experiment. Tests later showed that dimethylmercury, a small apolar molecule, can rapidly permeate different kinds of latex gloves and enter the skin within about 15 seconds.[4][5]

See also


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