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.
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.
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)?