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7 Ways To Use Exam Gloves in the Kitchen

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t put on exam gloves.  Most days it’s at my job as a sonographer (ultrasound tech), but there are many days I use them in the kitchen where they are surprisingly useful.

box of exam gloves like I keep in my kitchen
Notice that the label on this box shows they are safe to use around food.

I prefer exam gloves over food-handler gloves (the clear, one-size-fits-all kind you see in restaurants and schools). They fit more snugly and allow better tactile manipulation. 

Where to buy exam gloves

I buy them at Costco for around $10 for 2 boxes which will last me between one and two years. You can also buy them in the medical supply section of almost any drugstore or grocery store. Amazon also carries exam gloves.

Open stubborn lids 

opening jar

This is one of my favorite uses–especially as I get older.

Prevent burned fingers

Exam gloves have wonderful insulating properties…to a point. Don’t use them to remove hot dishes from an oven.

But if you are slicing hot meat, turning out hot muffins or baked goods, or handling hot veggies (perhaps hollowing out cooked potatoes or stuffing an eggplant), gloves will allow you to do it quickly and cleanly without burning your fingers. 

The corn on the cob you see below was cooked in the microwave per the instructions seen here, so that cob is HOT! You could use hot pads to hang on to the shucks, but they are awkward. Exam gloves make the job easy.  

By the way, if you haven’t seen this You Tube video about how to cook and shuck corn with no husks in the final product, you must!  I’ve tried it and my life will never be the same. I’m eating more fresh corn on the cob than is probably good for a person.

handling hot foods with gloves on.

The little tart shells in the picture have just come out of the oven and without gloves, they would be difficult to handle.

If you are slicing hot meat, turning out hot muffins or baked goods, or handling hot veggies (perhaps hollowing out cooked potatoes, stuffing an eggplant, or separating sweet potatoes from white potatoes), gloves will allow you to do it quickly and cleanly without burning your fingers. 

The little tart shells in this recipe have just come out of the oven and without gloves, they would be difficult to handle.

Shield pastries or candy from body heat

When working with pastries that tend to be difficult as they get warm, e.g. pie crust or puff pastry, put on gloves to protect the food. If you are rolling cookie dough into balls, making candy, or pie crust, gloves will prevent your body heat from warming the dough and making it too sticky to handle.

Works with ice cream balls, too.

Protect from unsociable odors 

chopping garllic with gloves on

If you don’t want your hands to smell like garlic or onions when you shake hands with the President after fixing his next state dinner, wear gloves.

Barrier against natural toxins

Ever chop a fresh pepper and then rub your eyes? Believe me. Wearing gloves is a very good idea. I don’t recommend making one of the most popular recipes on this blog without them.

No more discolored fingers

gloved hands squeezing oranges

Peeling beets, squeezing citrus fruits, and extracting seeds from pomegranates or cherries are just a few of the times you might want to protect your fingers from food stains.

It’s also a good way to avoid black fingers when polishing your grandmother’s silver.

Give the slip to sticky, slimy or gooey tasks


I’m sure you’ve already thought of this one but had to mention it anyway because it’s probably the number one reason I put these gloves on.

Some tasks are just better suited for hands. As we used to say at the Greenhouse (previous job), “Hands were made before spoons.”  

But some jobs are ickier than bowls of mysterious substances in a Halloween funhouse. Filling pasta shells and mixing meatloaf or meatballs are just two of the many messy jobs made more tolerable with gloves.

P.S. My 3 yr. old grandson begs to put these gloves on every time he comes for a visit. I’m not really sure why they appeal but they seem to turn on his imagination.

Kent with gloves post

More ideas from readers:

“So glad you confirmed that I’m not a crazy person like my family thinks…they make fun of my gloves but I’m the one who doesn’t have raw meat, bits of dough or rotisserie chicken under my fingernails! Another fun use at Halloween…fill with water, add red food coloring (or whatever color matches your decor), close it up and freeze it. Create a Halloween punch, remove the glove from the frozen “hand” and let it float in the punch bowl..creepy!”

Denise

“I have arthritis in my hands and handling cold hamburger meat really makes my hands ache. So when I am making out hamburger patties, or mixing & shaping a meatloaf, I pu on a pair of the “dr. gloves”. They keep my hands from getting cold & achy, & make for really easy clean-up.”

Sherri

“I like the gloves’ protection when I’m skinning tomatoes for canning. They really do protect somewhat from the heat of the water the tomatoes are sitting in and when using them for other foods in the kitchen, I also wash my “hands”, gloves and all with soap and water.”

Georgie

“Your picture of Kent with the gloves reminded me of a cute trick my grandkids really liked when they were pre-school age. I had a macaroni box with the cellophane window in half of the box. When I had used about 2/3 of the contents, I discovered that when I turned the box upside down, the remaining macaroni “disappeared” in that little window. I called it the “magic box”, and they loved to get in the drawer pull it out. (Of course I did have to tape the box shut.) That macaroni was about 2 years old when I finally threw it away.”

Sis
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Kyla

Sunday 17th of March 2019

I and defiantly a fan of using exam gloves, I do household cleaning for a living, and my hands dry out quickly. I have up to 3 boxes(I use them in other areas of my house besides the kitchen). They are helpful for anything from moxing meatballs/other sticky food, preparing raw meat to handling hot peppers. Also them to clean the house, in the garden and miscellaneous tasks I get boxes of long cuffed nitrile gloves.

Paula

Monday 18th of March 2019

Hey Kyla,

High five for exam gloves. I get mine at Costco. Haven't seen the long cuffed ones before. Just this week I was using them to pick very hot meat off the bones of a chicken or turkey. Have a great week.

Ralph Zuzolo

Wednesday 20th of April 2016

Great and creative ideas for using disposable gloves in the kitchen, especially opening jars. I would add that instead of costco consider a sites like ours With coupon codes you can get a case a gloves for about what you would pay for two boxes.

Sonya

Monday 18th of April 2016

I love your idea for tough-to-open jars - I will try that!

I just started wearing vinyl disposable gloves, and they have saved my hands. I used to keep them on hand for the occasional jalapeno chopping - just touch your eyes once and then try putting your contact lenses in the next day - and that'll cure you of that! hehehe. I thought to try the gloves more regularly because (embarassingly), I have to wear Mavala Stop nail polish or I'll bite my nails, and I noticed that I could taste it when I shredded chicken or ham. I finally thought of wearing gloves, and it did the trick, but it also solved a problem that had been plagueing me for years - super dry, cracked hands.

I cook from scratch up to 3 meals a day, and while I'm not really obsessive about germs, I do wash up at the obvious points - before emptying the dishwasher, after handling raw eggs/meat, or taking out the trash, and plus they just get really dirty and require frequent handwashing during cooking. As a result, my hands have been a hot mess for a while. I tried all sorts of awesome tips that helped - vaseline and cotton gloves at night, wearing dishgloves when handwashing dishes, and Eucerin Original lotion - but they were still always looking really beat up.

Disposable gloves have immediately restored my hands. Almost overnight (just like it happens when I'm on vacation and not cooking), my hands are fine again. And gone are the micro-cracks and cuts (which were a result of having dry skin) that I worried were letting in e-coli or salmonella when I was handling raw meat. My skin is completely restored.

I put the disposable gloves on before I start my food prep and wear the same pair until I sit down for our meal. I've noticed absolutely no problems working with heat, washing them repeatedly, and they even fit under larger kitchen gloves, though I don't find that I need those anymore. I then put on another pair before I start cleaning up. I've tried two different brands, and the difference was enormous - the key for me was getting a tight enough fit. My current box is too loose, so water gets in them when I'm washing my gloved hands or doing dishes, and this makes them really annoying to wear. They still work fine and the water isn't damaging my hands, but between the looseness and the water, I have to fight the urge to take them off all the time - lol. This is just from a slight difference in fit; they're still tight enough to work in. This current box is also powdered and I don't care for that. So I would advise that the fit is really important.

Kyla

Thursday 27th of June 2019

I used latex gloves(hated the smell) then switched to nitrle gloves. The nitrle glives amhave a way better fit.

Kyla

Thursday 27th of June 2019

I agree with you Sonya, fit is very important for the task in hand(pun intended). I hate the powdery reidue left on you hands. I do cleaning every day, used to have pwderd latex gloves(the place used to get them were on size fits all) I know get the long cuffed(not the yellpw dish gloves) exam gloves from another source and the fit is wonderful(I am between a size small/medium).

hatem

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

thanks. I used to use the cloves in all cooking periods I can add one good job for it I used for longtime ago peoples can wash and clean their asshole easy and better and healthier than using bare hand. hope that is helpful. with respect

Hatem

Wednesday 13th of April 2016

I mean gloves sure :)

Nadine Pekar

Saturday 20th of June 2015

These gloves sound wonderful. Are they easy to slip on and off or do you have to tug and pull to take them on and off?

Paula

Monday 22nd of June 2015

If your hands are completely dry and you buy the appropriate size, they are not difficult to put on.