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Domestic Rubber Gloves

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Some rubber gloves.

There are several types of 'rubber' glove - many of them not, strictly speaking, made of rubber. But as a generic term it is acceptable. Rubber gloves appear to be ubiquitous these days: in first aid kits in cars (mandatory in some European countries); at the butcher's shop; the chocolate shop (the 'continental' variety); the dentist; the hospital; and many more besides. Many of these gloves are made of latex and have cotton or 'cotton-like' lining for comfort, but this lining can sometimes provoke an allergic reaction in some people. This Guide Entry, however, concerns itself only with those gloves which are used to protect the hands from the ravages of cleaning the house.


  • Washing-up is the first use which springs to mind when thinking about rubber gloves. Despite promises to the contrary, most washing-up liquids do not leave those hands-that-do-dishes feeling as soft as your face, especially after you've done the washing-up. Generally speaking, rubber gloves are a necessity when cleaning the dishes.

  • Household cleaning: If it has to be cleaned with water, or a mixture of water and some sort of cleaning agent, then gloves are a must, particularly if you have to get to grips with 'de-gungeing' a U-bend1. Household cleaning also includes emptying cat-litter trays (if only we could train the furry-footed ones to do it for themselves) and window cleaning.

  • Repotting plants: This act definitely requires gloves; just think of all that dirt getting wedged under your fingernails.

  • Changing nappies: This is not a generally recognised area of use for rubber gloves. Occasionally, however, it should be. Supplemented by a clothes peg for your nose.

  • Touching anything electrical2: Just in case you get an electric shock, wear rubber gloves. Wearing rubber boots, or standing on a rubber mat would also help here.

Why Wear Rubber Gloves at All?

Well, even though you won't necessarily cut a manly, sexy swathe through the household chores (especially if you're a man) while wearing the latest in pink rubber hand wear, you will keep the skin on your hands looking and feeling younger and smoother. For some of us, this is important.

Which Brand and Size?

  • Brand: As with most items of clothing/apparel, brand and size are a matter of personal choice. Some brands use better quality rubber, some are thicker, some are lined with cotton or a cotton-like substance for more comfort3, some brands offer a range of colour and/or quality, and if you're lucky, the choice in your local supermarket can be almost overwhelming.

  • Size: Each pack of rubber gloves, regardless of brand, has a 'handy' size guide on the back. However, only experienced rubber glove users can tell at a glance which size/brand they require.


Although rubber gloves are deceptively simple in appearance and even easier to use, you may, from time to time, experience a problem or two. This troubleshooting guide is helpful, but by no means all-encompassing.

My Hands Feel Wet

Well, this could be for one of three reasons. The first of which is that if you're using a combination of very hot water and lots of elbow grease, your hands will sweat, particularly if it is a hot day. This can be avoided in some simple ways; don't use water which is too hot, don't wear rubber gloves on a hot day, buy really expensive cotton-lined gloves, wear a pair of thin cotton gloves under the rubber ones or don't work too hard.

The second, and by far the most common reason, is that water, or some other liquid, has entered the glove. This is most often because of a minute hole in the very tip of one of the fingers of the glove. In this case there are only three options: carry on with wet hands, replace the glove, or patch the hole, if you can find it, by using a bicycle inner-tube repair kit.

Water, or other liquid, can, of course, enter the glove through the arm opening. To avoid this unpleasant experience try one of two things: securely tape your hands into the gloves at the forearm, and avoid splashing around or plunging hands deep into the water.

I've Lost all Feeling in my Hands:

Check that your hands are still attached to your arm. If they are, then maybe you have taped the gloves to your forearms too tightly. If this is the case, loosen the tape. Maybe your gloves are too small. If so, get bigger gloves. Or are your gloves too thick? Again, make sure that your gloves fit you properly.

Recycling - Further Use

Some countries run recycling programmes for all household rubbish. If so, rubber gloves may be added to the collection. If you wish to do some recycling of your own, rubber gloves do have a few uses when their primary function is no longer possible. Gloves with very small holes, if they only leak, might possibly be used for activities where the cleanliness of the hands needs to be preserved, but liquid is not involved (eg repotting plants). The hand/forearm part can also be used to make fairly strong rubber bands. These are not particularly recommended for use in hairstyling.

1A U-bend is a part of the toilet, for those of you not in the know.2Especially anything which has been rewired, had a plug attached etc, by your other half.3They keep the hands drier.

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