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If you don’t have a box of these sitting around your garage, you’re missing out. They’re some of the most handy tools you can own, and they’re cheap as hell: about $5 a box, available at your local grocery stores and big box shops. Read on past the jump for five tasks where disposable gloves come in seriously handy.

1. Working under the hood

Know how you could identify old-timey mechanics by the grease under their fingernails? No more. Smart wrench-geeks slip on a pair of disposable gloves before tearing into grimy under-the-hood jobs, avoiding hours of painful scrubbing and that not-quite-ever-fully-clean hand patina. In fact, disposable gloves are great for pretty much any job where you don’t want to get crap all over yourself — with two exceptions: First, avoid situations where you’ll be working near extremely hot stuff. Warm isn’t a problem, but if things get hot enough to melt the gloves, you’ll end up in a world of hurt. Seriously. So don’t use ’em near, say, a hot exhaust manifold. Second, if you’re working with chemicals, you’ll want to check first to see if they’ll eat the gloves. It’s not super common, but nitrile and latex and some chemicals don’t mix.

2. Cleaning the shop

Ever walk out into the shop on a cool morning and think, “Hey, I’ve got a minute. I’ll clean up a bit!” Then when you’re finished you smell like cleaner (or worse yet the stuff you’re cleaning) and you have to head back in to clean up yourself up before you go out — usually to the consternation of your significant other, to whom you (oops) may have given the impression you were ready to head out for the day’s tasks. Throw some disposable gloves into the equation and you solve this problem instantly. You’ll still need to wash your hands, but it’s a 30-second task instead of a 10-minute job.

3. Cleaning the grill

I love my charcoal grill, and I can have it running in 15 minutes with no real hassle. So I’m always surprised when I hear people bitching about how charcoal grills take forever to start and are a dirty mess. My secret: disposable gloves. Don a pair before you sweep out the old ashes, then keep ’em on while you clean up the grill itself. With the gloves on, you can even stack up the new charcoal by hand. When you’re ready to fire it up, pop off the gloves and trash ’em. Bam.

4. Cooking

Speaking of grilling, take a box of these gloves into the kitchen and leave ’em there, too. The instructor of a cooking class I took a while back turned me on to this use, and it’s a lifesaver — especially if you’re working with hot peppers. The capsaicin in the peppers gets into your skin and stays there for far longer than you’d imagine, even after you wash your hands thoroughly. So if you chop a jalapeño and then rub your eyes, your life will suck for a bit. The instructor offered an even more jarring story about a chef who’d worked with habeñeros then had an, um, experience at a restaurant urinal. Put on a pair of disposable gloves, though, and you can freely cut, seed, etc. without fear of later problems.

5. Painting

I’m the guy who, if you give him a pen, will end up with pen marks on my hands. And I’m even worse with a can of spray paint. I have no idea how it gets all over, but it always does, even when I use one of the handy trigger sprayers. Nowadays I just put on a pair of disposable gloves first and don’t worry about it.

And those are just the uses I can think of off the top of my head. What do you do with these (that’s safe for work, at least)?


31 Responses to Five Shop and Home Uses for Nitrile/Latex Gloves

  1. Fong says:

    Those are the exact 5 most common things I use them for as well. I also use them extensively for mixing and working with adhesives (i.e. flooring adhesive, 2 part epoxies)

    For cyanoacrylates (superglue), I’ve only found tripolymer (neoprene, nitrile & natural rubber) gloves to not stick.

  2. asdf says:

    Handloading with cast lead bullets.

  3. MikeT says:

    Messy diaper changes. Which really just falls into the larger category of household hazmat.

  4. jeff_williams says:

    I use them for most of the things you mentioned above but to extend painting a bit… Last week I was finishing a ladder shelf with poly. I didn’t want to clean my brush between each coat so I held the brush by the foam in the palm of my gloved hand and then pulled the glove off my hand inside out and over the brush. I double gloved it even. Used that brush 3 days in a row that way and then tossed it.

  5. Ben says:

    We have these on the shopping list with dish soap and laundry detergent. The girlfriend calls them serial killer gloves, as in “I am running to the store to get some eggs, are we out of serial killer gloves?” She uses them for something, probably has to do with hair.

  6. Staining wood. Pulling small poison ivy plants. Picking up wild animal “leavings” (even when using a shovel) just in case. Giving wife reason to recite that quote from “Serenity”.

    The only thing I hate about them is they will fill up with sweat amazingly fast if it’s hot outside.

  7. Bill says:

    First Aid –
    When I burn a finger or hand, I like to take out the sting with ice. But, I cannot accomplish anything while holding a cube of ice with my left hand to cool a spot on my right. Presto – I put a glove on the right hand then insert a piece of ice in to the glove maneuvering it over the injury. Works!
    If it gets too cold I just pour a little water in to bring the temp up a little.

  8. TMIB_Seattle says:

    Also, they’re great in the kitchen for food prep. I know you mentioned things like peppers, but they’re just generally good to kep things sanitary when working in the kitchen. They’re particularly handy when working on a meal that involves raw meat. You can just toss the gloves after prepping the meat and put on a new pair for the rest of the preparations.

  9. TMIB_Seattle says:

    Oh also, maybe not a “home” use (depending on where you live) but slipping on a pair underneath a set of winter gloves helps hold in the heat. This is particularly useful for when you want to wear fingerless wool gloves so you have the agility in your fingertips, but the warmth of full gloves. I do this ocassionally when fly fishing on winter mornings.

  10. zoomzoomjeff says:

    I noticed you said they’re only $5, and the picture shows 100 gloves. Around here, they’re about $12-15 for 100. Did you mean you can get a smaller box starting at $5, or do you have a much cheaper source for these that you can share?

  11. Dan R. says:

    Alan, I’ve gotta know – what’s the Serenity quote?

  12. Mike says:

    Someone else mentioned first aid for themselves. They are also good for giving first aid to others. Every time you could come in contact with body fluids from another person, you should wear gloves. Throw a couple of pairs in all your fist aid kits (you do have one in the shop at least, right?).

  13. Dave A. says:

    I wear them while hanging, taping and mudding Dryall. It prevents your hands from getting dehydrated and chaffed.

  14. brisaacs says:

    I use them for just about everything. I actually have a video of a creative use on youtube. I needed to attach a piece of hose to a sink that had no means of attachment.
    A nitrile glove and some tape did the trick.
    The bonus was the way that the water pressure went through the glove.

  15. Old Tool Guy says:

    *Field dressing small game on hunting trips, cleaning and filleting fish.

    *mixing epoxies or JB Weld. My hands are big enough they are the palette: I can put a small puddle of each ingredient in my hand, then ix with a pinkie. Use index finger to apply. Pull gloves off onto themselves, with JB Weld to the center, toss in trash without dripping on anything and not having to do any other clean up.

    *mixing two types of fertilizer or other granular before applying with a broadcast spreader. Dump 1/2 bag into hopper of spreader, mix thoroughly with hands, pull off gloves and apply to the yard

    * have a couple pair in the toolbox in my truck; when have you ever had to jump start a car or change somebody’s flat when it wasn’t rainy or snowing out?

  16. Jay says:

    Cow Udder Balloon volleyball always seems to “pop” up as a great use for these gloves.

  17. Phil says:

    Use these when applying spray foam insulation. When the uncured foam gets on your hands or fingers, it’s there for a while. The same is true for applying adhesives and working with fiberglass or carbon fiber.

  18. Blair says:

    +1 on the spray foam application, that stuff is insidious! Gloves like these are fine for some things, but they also take a lot of the “feel” out of some things, and every tool guy out there knows what I mean, some things are just gauged by our sense of touch, hand planing, starting a fine threaded nut on a screw, etc. I know they are thin, but sometimes it just has to be old school, and DL….lol

  19. Cameron Watt says:

    To wear for EVERYTHING at work in the week leading up to your wedding so you don’t have stained hands in all your photos!

  20. Brau says:

    I bought two boxes of these a few years ago, thinking I would use them up quickly … under the assumption they would only be good for a single use, like the old latex gloves. I found out that many times I can simply wash them off (while wearing them) and re-use them. Looks like those two boxes are going to last a looong time.

  21. Ricardo Reimundez says:

    I’m all over these for a number of the uses above. Love them. Use them when changing the oil, switching to my winter/summer tires, etc. etc.

    As someone mentioned, I used a pair at the ER last week to keep my 2 year old son occupied with some glove volleyball as he waited for stitches.

  22. Alan says:

    I always keep a box in my hunting bag for gutting and skinning my deer.

  23. zorac says:

    In case anyone’s interested, I found this chart a while back after I dissolved a pair of latex gloves while working with some paint thinner. I was really surprised.


  24. Todd says:

    I use them for cleaning the guns after shooting. Sometimes you don’t want to smell like Hoppe’s 9 for the next 6 hours.

    • TMIB_Seattle says:

      What.. what? You want to *avoid* smelling like Hoppes? I wish they made cologne!

      (I have one of their air fresheners in my Jeep.)


  25. Dr Bob says:

    I use them whenever working with fiberglass – both the insulation kind and the kind you use with resin. They’re a must when working with epoxy, resin or Bondo and anything else that sticks so well, you have to wear it off like the spray foam insulation and Gorilla Glue.

    Mixing and spraying pesticides and herbicides is another use.

    One thing I don’t use them for is changing oil and filters – I just lose too much feel and grip with them on.

  26. Mr Bones says:

    One of the best things I like about nitrile is that it is pretty durable compared to latex. I try to be a spendthrift, so when I use them during the course of a project with Gorilla glue, stain, bondo, or spray foam and they don’t get too messy, I turn them inside out and when I need to put on a 2nd application, you can use them several times.

  27. Squidwelder says:

    Around here, they find lots of use when dealing with sewage. Put a rubber band around the wrist and blam, instant poop-proof hands. It’s great because it’s disposable, and greater because you don’t have betadine stains on your hands for two days. At home, same thing applies, only less industrial. It beats having stinky hands any day!

  28. Justin says:

    Word of CAUTION: I too use nitrile gloves often, but found the “medical grade” variety (e.g., from Costco) absolutely mandatory vs any less expensive HFT varieties ESPECIALLY if your hands sweat a little and/or you wear them for more than a minute or two…

    REASON: nasty cornucopia of industrial solvents and other chemical residues used in the manufacture of NON-medical grade nitrile and latex gloves makes such low prices possible. Some cheap gloves noticeably reek of such, as can your hands after wearing them.

    DANGER: medical clinicians routinely increase absorption efficacy of many topical drugs via the widely-practiced method known as “occlusion” whereby various creams and ointments are pressed against (occluded) the skin by bandages/dressings where sweat/condensate and lack of appreciable oxygen/airflow deliver significantly higher concentrations of the desired agent into the epidermis and, unavoidably, the circulatory system once mixed with interstitial fluid.

    Thus, donning residue-coated non-medical grade gloves (or, perhaps just as important, donning even medical-grade gloves over unwashed garage/shop-dirty hands could propel all manner of undesirable or even outright harmful chemicals directly into your skin or, worse, bloodstream.

    So while nitrile gloves offer high levels of protection, like most tools it’s crucial to employ them correctly: only use medical-grade nitrile gloves over freshly washed hands, and avoid cheaper non-medical-grade gloves entirely.

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