Double Gloving: Protecting Workers and Environments in Various Industries

An in-depth exploration of the practice of double gloving in various industries, including healthcare, laboratory, and electronics, highlighting the importance of choosing the right gloves and evaluating their effectiveness.

By: Richard Rich


Double gloving is a practice that is widely used in various industries, including laboratories, biosecurity facilities, hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical cleanrooms, and electronic cleanrooms. It involves wearing two pairs of gloves to provide extra protection against hazardous materials, infectious agents, and contaminants. Double-gloving helps to reduce the risk of skin exposure and maintain the cleanliness of the environment.

Occupations that Double Glove

In laboratories and biosecurity facilities, double-gloving helps to reduce the risk of contamination and protect workers from hazardous materials, such as toxic chemicals and infectious agents. The gloves used in these environments must be Category III PPE and compliant with ISO 21420 standards. The inner glove, which is in direct contact with the skin, is protected by the outer glove, reducing the likelihood of deterioration during handling.

In hospital pharmacies handling cytotoxic products, double-gloving with sterile gloves is particularly recommended to ensure adequate protection. The gloves used in these settings must be registered in accordance with the EU Regulation 2016/425 on Personal Protective Equipment. The use of two pairs of gloves provides a thickness of at least 0.2-0.3 mm, reducing the risk of skin exposure to cytotoxic products.

In the pharmaceutical industry, the use of gloves in cleanrooms is crucial to prevent contamination of products. In aseptic environments and controlled atmosphere zones, gloves help to minimize the risk of particulate and microbial contamination of products. The consequences of undetected contamination can be significant, leading to both financial losses and potential harm to consumers.

In cleanroom environments within the electronic industry, workers often practice double gloving. This is to ensure that there is a high level of protection against contamination and that the cleanroom environment remains free of any contaminants. When choosing gloves, it’s important to consider factors such as electrostatic discharge (ESD) resistance and non-volatile residue (nVr) contamination. To prevent static electricity, gloves with ESD resistance should be worn. For environments concerned with nVr contamination, gloves should be evaluated to ensure they do not contain any nVr.

Why Industries Double Glove.

In cleanroom environments, double-gloving is a common practice to protect both the workers and the environment. Workers in these environments wear gloves of a high level of cleanliness, which are long enough to cover the wrist of their suit. By double-gloving, workers are adhering to clothing procedures that require them to wear ultra-clean sterile gloves before putting on a complete set of sterile garments, including a second pair of sterile cleanroom gloves. This ensures that the aseptic environment is maintained and protected.

One reason for double-gloving is to protect workers from the environment. Human skin cells, hair, and microorganisms can all contribute to contamination in the cleanroom. Double-gloving acts as an extra layer of protection against these contaminants. Additionally, in life sciences and other similar environments, regular disinfection of outer gloves with products such as 70% isopropanol can cause the gloves to deteriorate. Wearing two pairs of gloves means that only the outer gloves need to be changed, without the worker having to leave the workspace.

Another reason for double-gloving is to protect the environment from the worker. Particles present on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including gloves, can also contribute to contamination in the cleanroom. Double-gloving provides an extra layer of protection against these particles, helping to maintain the cleanliness of the environment. Furthermore, any exit from the cleanroom environment involves a complete and time-consuming undressing and dressing procedure, which can be costly. By double-gloving, workers can avoid having to leave the workspace and minimize the risk of contamination.

Evaluating the Type of Gloves Used and Ensuring Worker Health and Comfort

When it comes to double gloving, it’s important to evaluate the type of gloves being used and ensure the health and comfort of workers. Different types of gloves, such as nitrile, latex, and vinyl, have their own benefits and should be chosen based on the task at hand.

One of the factors to consider when choosing gloves is the material. Nitrile gloves are ideal for tasks that require durability, such as cleaning, while latex gloves are good for tasks that require flexibility and dexterity, such as working with caustic disinfectants. Vinyl gloves are often used for tasks that require protection from bodily fluids, but they are not as durable as nitrile or latex gloves.

Another factor to consider is the fit of the gloves. Wearing gloves that are too tight or too loose can result in discomfort, decreased dexterity, and increased risk of tears and rips. To ensure a good fit, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s sizing recommendations and to choose gloves that conform to appropriate standards, such as ASTM International Standards F739-99A and D6978-05, European Standards EN 374-3 and EN 374-2, and others.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the tack and feel of the gloves. Gloves that are too tacky can interfere with dexterity and increase the risk of tears, while gloves that are too slippery can reduce grip and increase the risk of injury. Other methods that can compromise a glove’s ability to protect include improper donning methods, wearing gloves for too long, using lotions, keeping fingernails long, and improper storage.

In accordance with OSHA standards for PPE (29 CFR 1910.1325) and bloodborne pathogens (29 CFR 1910.10306), employers have a responsibility to provide appropriate gloves that are used and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition whenever necessary due to hazards encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment and when there is a risk of exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Accredited facilities must also follow Joint Commission standards related to PPE, such as reducing the risk of infections associated with medical equipment, devices, and supplies.

It’s important to assess and select the most appropriate glove for the task at hand and to consider the material, fit, tack, and feel, and other factors that can compromise a glove’s ability to protect. The employer’s responsibility is to provide gloves that are adequately protective based on the hazard and to follow PPE glove manufacturer recommendations carefully.

Problems with Double gloving

Double gloving is a common practice in cleanroom environments to maintain the aseptic environment, however, it can also lead to various problems. One of the most common issues with double gloving is difficulty in donning and removing gloves due to slipping or reduced dexterity. Additionally, the constant wear of gloves can lead to skin irritation, including both contact and allergic dermatitis.

Glove-associated contact dermatitis affects a significant portion of cleanroom workers, with estimates ranging from 20-60% of those who wear gloves regularly. This type of dermatitis is caused by the direct contact of the skin with the glove material, leading to skin irritation and itching. Allergic dermatitis is also a concern, as some workers can develop an allergic reaction to the chemicals used in glove production.

The constant wear of gloves can also have an impact on the skin, including changes to the epidermis and stratum corneum (SC) layers. The SC layer acts as a barrier to the environment and helps to retain moisture in the skin. Prolonged wearing of gloves can disrupt the balance of the SC layer and cause the skin to become dry, leading to itching and cracking.

Preventing Contact Dermatitis While Double Gloving

Contact dermatitis is a common problem associated with prolonged use of gloves, especially when double gloving. The skin can become dry and irritated due to the occlusive nature of gloves, which can lead to itching, burning, and redness. To prevent contact dermatitis while double gloving, several steps can be taken.

One of the prevention methods is introducing a lotion. Lotion can help to moisturize the skin and reduce the chances of developing contact dermatitis. However, it is important to evaluate the lotion before using it to make sure it does not affect the gloves. Some lotions contain ingredients that can weaken gloves or interfere with their protective properties. It is important to choose a lotion that is compatible with gloves and does not compromise their ability to protect against harmful substances.

In addition to using lotion, it is also important to take breaks and remove gloves regularly to allow the skin to breathe and avoid prolonged exposure to moisture. Keeping hands clean and dry is also important to prevent skin irritation. The use of breathable gloves, made of materials that allow for airflow, can also help to reduce the risk of developing contact dermatitis.

By following these prevention methods, healthcare workers and other professionals who wear gloves for prolonged periods can reduce their chances of developing contact dermatitis and ensure their skin stays healthy and protected.


The choice of gloves used for double-gloving is crucial in ensuring the health and comfort of workers. Different factors such as the material, fit, tack, and feel should be considered when selecting the most appropriate glove for the task at hand. Employers have a responsibility to provide appropriate gloves in accordance with OSHA and Joint Commission standards. Proper donning methods, wearing gloves for the right duration, avoiding contaminating products, maintaining short fingernails, and proper storage can all contribute to the effectiveness of double-gloving.