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When Should Utility Gloves Be Worn? (Fully Explained)

Writen by Joshua Clark

Fact checked by Daniel Rocha

when should utility gloves be worn

Have you been flustered when you work on something, and you don’t know if you should wear utility gloves or other types of hand protection? I know it can be frustrating, especially if you think utility gloves have an all-purpose design. So, when should utility gloves be worn?

If you find yourself asking this question very often, worry no more. I will share the straight-up facts and other knowledge bits about this personal protective equipment.

What Are Utility Gloves?

Utility gloves are a type of personal protective equipment with qualities that safeguard the wearer from harm during the performance of one’s duties and responsibilities.

The gloves must be puncture-resistant, heavy-duty, reusable, chemical-resistant, and withstand temperature extremes. Industries can have their specific utility glove requirements.

When Should You Use Utility Gloves?


  • Knowing when to use utility gloves boils down to how well you know your job or activity and the type of utility gloves you have.

For example, there are utility gloves used for protecting the hands of construction workers, carpenters, and laborers. Food handlers, kitchen helpers, food preppers, and other people in the food industry also have their version of utility gloves.

For example, if you’re handling fish, you’ll want utility gloves that protect you against cuts and punctures from fish scales and bones. They should also provide you with a good grip on the fish because it can be slippery.

Handling rocks, metal bars, nails, screws, and other hardware at construction sites requires utility gloves with thick surfaces. You don’t want any of these materials causing injuries. Utility workers who set up service poles and perform substation work also need high-quality utility gloves.

  • Some professions have more clear-cut guidelines on when to use utility gloves.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) say that utility gloves for sterilization protect healthcare workers against harmful germs from contaminated items, devices, and surfaces.

Healthcare professionals are at risk for contracting diseases every time they handle contaminated objects. Hospitals and other medical settings aren’t free of bacteria, viruses, and other germs. Most people who visit these institutions are sick, harboring disease-causing microorganisms.

Sick people can transfer microorganisms onto surfaces and objects when they touch them. Germs can also float in the air, landing somewhere else in the room or on other items. Unfortunately, we can’t see germs, and there’s no way we can guarantee a surface isn’t contaminated.

That’s why healthcare professionals assume everything they touch can potentially carry germs. One way to protect themselves is by wearing utility gloves.

You might have also heard of utility gloves dental professionals, doctors, and other healthcare personnel use.

The Registered Dental Hygienists Magazine (RDH) says that utility gloves are used in a dental procedure and other activities where dental healthcare professionals (DHCPs) can come in contact with potentially contaminated surfaces and objects.

Dental healthcare professionals use utility gloves for cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing medical equipment, dental office surfaces, and treatment rooms. The gloves are puncture-resistant, allowing dentists and dental assistants to protect themselves against needle pricks.

These utility gloves also resist chemicals used in dental procedures, disinfection, and sterilization. This personal protective equipment can also withstand high temperatures while retaining its form when exposed to hot oil.

Dentists and their assistants also use utility gloves in washing, cleaning, packing, and moving dental, medical, and healthcare equipment. They also find these gloves advantageous in safeguarding dental personnel against hazardous chemicals.

What Materials Make Up a Utility Glove?


Utility gloves can feature different materials giving them their desired properties. For example, liquid and chemical-resistant utility gloves have latex, butyl, neoprene, or nitrile compositions.

  • Latex – Latex gloves are suitable for handling water solutions of acids, ketones, salts, and alkalis. These utility gloves also protect the wearer against abrasions. Unfortunately, some folks might be allergic to latex.
  • Butyl – These utility gloves are similar to latex, except they are synthetic. They are perfect against ozone corrosion, gas vapors, abrasion, and oxidation.
  • Neoprene – People working in garages, auto shops, and similar places use neoprene utility gloves. These gloves feature a synthetic rubber material and are perfect for handling hydraulic fluids, gasoline, organic acids, alkalis, and alcohols.
  • Nitrile – These utility gloves consist of carboxylic acid, butadiene, and acrylonitrile monomers. They are suitable for handling chlorinated solvents, oils, alcohols, greases, and acids. They are also good for people with latex allergies.

Some utility gloves have fabric constructions, suitable for protection against chafing, abrasions, and more. Other gloves have a specialized coating on the fabric, making them ideal for handling laboratory containers, wires, and other slippery objects.

Why Don’t Most People Wear Utility Gloves?

If your job requires you to make full use of your sense of touch, wearing utility gloves can make you less productive. Some objects are so tiny or delicate that wearing thick and bulky utility gloves can impair our dexterity and reduce work pace.

However, federal regulations require you to wear your utility gloves when working with objects that injure or harm you. After all, they don’t call these gloves personal protective equipment for nothing. They’re your insurance against bodily harm, allowing you to continue making full use of your hands.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3,600 injuries occurred in the utility industry in 2018. Seventeen percent of these injuries were to the hands, most probably because of not wearing gloves or wearing poor-quality utility gloves.

Can You Wash and Reuse Utility Gloves?

One characteristic of utility gloves is reusability. You can wash and clean these gloves, hang them to dry, and wear them in your next activity.

However, the degree of glove cleaning depends on where or how you use it. For example, washing alone is insufficient if you use utility gloves in a medical or healthcare setting. It would be best to have the utility gloves sterilized before reuse.

Healthcare facilities often sterilize their gloves in a pressure cooker-oven-like machine called an autoclave to kill any microorganism still present after washing.


You now know when should utility gloves be worn. Federal guidelines require people working in certain sectors and industries to wear the correct personal protective equipment, including utility gloves.

I recommend wearing utility gloves when handling anything that can injure or harm you. You can forget the inconvenience and discomfort these gloves can bring if wearing them means you’ll maintain your safety and that of your coworkers.

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