Bacterial contamination of nonsterile gloves versus hands after hand hygiene

Published:April 17, 2021DOI:


      • Bacterial counts on hands after hand hygiene do not differ from nonsterile gloves.
      • The filling level of glove boxes does not influence contamination rates of gloves.
      • Contamination of nonsterile gloves is independent of the position of the glove box.



      Nonsterile gloves (NSG) are often overused, while the emphasis should lie in hand hygiene (HH). Furthermore, improper HH leads to contamination of NSG in glove boxes. The aim of this study was to compare microbial loads on hands from health-care workers (HCW) after HH to NSG and to study the influence of position and filling level of glove boxes on contamination rates.


      Fingerprints on agar plates were made from randomly chosen HCWs directly after HH. Plates were incubated and colony-forming units counted. NSG taken from glove boxes were also sampled. Filling level and position (horizontal vs vertical) of the glove boxes were recorded.


      Median colony-forming units count was similar for hands after HH (N = 107, median 1, IQR 5) and NSG (N = 185, median 1, IQR 2, P-value .33). Only few samples in both groups showed growth of pathogenic bacteria. Neither the filling level (P-value .76), nor the position of the glove box (P-value .68) had an influence on NSG contamination.


      Microbial loads of hands after HH are comparable to NSG. Filling level or position of the glove box did not influence glove contamination. Whether similar microbial counts translate into comparable nosocomial infection rates warrants further research.

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