As the COVID-19 outbreak rages on, masks and gloves are becoming a common sight in the grocery store, pharmacy, and other public settings. While respected health authorities like the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that people wear masks in public in certain situations, wearing surgical gloves is a slightly more controversial practice. Scroll down to find out why gloves might not be the best weapons in the fight against COVID-19 and how to prevent cross-contamination from other everyday objects.
What Is Cross-Contamination?
Let’s start by defining cross-contamination in terms of the current outbreak. Cross-contamination is defined as the transfer of disease-causing bacteria, viral particles, or other microorganisms from one substance to another. The term is often used to describe causes of foodborne illness – such as when Salmonella bacteria transfers from meat to a vegetable. However, cross-contamination occurs in a vast variety of circumstances. For example, if coronavirus particles transfer from a doorknob to your iPhone screen, that’s also considered cross-contamination.
Why Gloves Are Not Recommended During the COVID-19 Pandemic
You’ve likely seen grocery shoppers armed with surgical masks and disposable gloves to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus. While masks are currently a good idea, experts advise against disposable gloves for several reasons:
- Just like your hands, gloves can lead to cross-contamination. Gloves are not impervious to germs. They’ll be contaminated by everything you touch. So when you enter the store and touch your grocery cart, your gloves will pick up any bacteria or viral particles on the cart. If you continue to wear the gloves – say, while scrolling through the grocery list on your phone or putting groceries in your trunk – those particles will transfer to these other surfaces. Or let’s say you’re pumping gas. If you wear a pair of disposable gloves, you’ll transfer the germs from the pump onto your steering wheel. To prevent this kind of cross-contamination, you would need to dispose of your gloves immediately after touching any external surface.
- You can’t contract the coronavirus through touch alone. You have to touch something contaminated with the virus and then touch your face to contract the coronavirus. As you can still touch your face with gloved hands, wearing gloves doesn’t do much good. Instead, simply wash your hands after being in a public place.
- Most people don’t know how to wear and remove disposable gloves properly. First of all, anyone reusing disposable gloves is using them improperly. They cannot be reused. Second, your gloves must be taken off carefully to prevent contamination. It’s not as simple as pulling them on and pulling them off like you would with winter mittens. If you want to avoid contact with the contaminated portion (the entire exterior), you must remove the gloves very carefully. To protect yourself, use the CDC’s guidelines for removing gloves (if you must wear them at all). In addition, note that it’s not safe to take gloves off and on to touch your phone’s screen, which likely isn’t compatible with gloved fingers.
- They create an illusion of safety. Gloves may make people feel safer than they truly are. Just because you’re wearing gloves, that doesn’t mean they aren’t contaminated with the virus – and contaminating everything you’ve touched while wearing them (the grocery cart, your phone, the items you’re purchasing, the grocery bags, etc.). Therefore, it’s still imperative that you follow social distancing guidelines, disinfect the items you bring into your home, and practice excellent hand hygiene.
- You may be taking them away from someone who truly needs them. Although you don’t need to wear gloves, some people in your community absolutely do, including healthcare workers and people caring for loved ones who have COVID-19. Why take this precious resource away from someone who truly needs the protection?
Are gloves worthless? Absolutely not. But for most people, they’re not critical accessories when you’re venturing out into public spaces like grocery stores and pharmacies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the CDC only recommends using gloves in regard to COVID-19 if you’re cleaning and disinfecting your home or you’re a healthcare worker treating someone who has COVID-19 (or is suspected to have it).
How to Prevent Cross-Contamination
Germ Transfer on Hands
Instead of wearing gloves, focus your attention on frequently and thoroughly washing your hands. Using soap and water, scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s especially important to wash your hands after being in a public place, handling items from a public place (like groceries, deliveries, and packages), and touching items in a public place (like doorknobs, grocery carts, railings, etc.). In addition, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands and carry hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not readily available.
Germ Transfer on Your Phone
Keeping your hands germ-free is one of the best ways to prevent cross-contamination. But what about other surfaces? Cross-contamination can take place on a wide variety of surfaces, including your phone screen. According to a 2019 survey, the average person touches their cell phone 2,617 times daily. At this point, touching our phones is almost second nature – which is why it’s crucial that you keep your phone germ-free. After using your phone in a public place, wipe it down with 70-percent isopropyl alcohol wipes or disinfecting wipes. Make it a part of your hygiene routine, along with washing your hands.
Germ Transfer on Your Clothing
Scientists do not currently have evidence that your shoes or clothing can carry the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 – at least, not for a period long enough to put you at risk. Still, consider leaving your shoes and outerwear in a coat closet to avoid tracking germs into your house. If you’re concerned that the virus is on your clothing, simply launder it as you normally would.
Learning how to prevent cross-contamination is an important part of keeping yourself safe and healthy – especially now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a few simple strategies, you can dramatically reduce your exposure to a wide variety of illness-causing germs.
If you’re concerned about disinfecting your space during the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, look at what SafeSpace Company® has to offer. Disinfecting your home thoroughly, efficiently, and conveniently is easy with the SafeSpace® Germ Fogger. This product contains a hospital-grade disinfectant that generates 6,000 cubic feet of disinfecting and deodorizing fog. It is EPA-approved and does not leave any harmful residue. If you would like to purchase the SafeSpace Germ Fogger today, please visit the SafeSpace® website. For more information, please give us a call today at 1-800-735-2506.
Copyright SafeSpace Company 2020