Clinical Skills - Sterile Gloving
by Ellis Parker January 30, 2022 Updated: August 09, 2023 3 min read
This article demonstrates how to put on sterile gloves. The Clinical Skills video series follows along with our Clinical Nursing Skills Flashcards, which provide step-by-step instructions and best practices for most skills used by practicing nurses and for the skills tested by most nursing schools during the laboratory portion of fundamentals.
How to put on sterile gloves
Sterile gloving can feel a little bit overwhelming at first, so here is a step-by-step explanation of how to don sterile gloves safely. Note that sterile gloves are dependent on size, and sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the size that is right for you.
1. Remove jewelry and perform hand hygiene
To prepare for sterile gloving, have a pack of sterile gloves at the ready, remove all jewelry, and perform hand hygiene.
Also note that it is good practice to stand a little back from the surface where you have placed the sterile glove packaging — this will help you maintain enough distance so as not to accidentally touch a non-sterile surface, which would render that set of gloves unusable.
2. Open the outer packaging and discard
Next, open the outer packaging and discard it. Remove the sterile glove packaging inside. Place the sterile glove packaging on a solid surface that is at least waist height and that is clean.
3. Open the inner wrapper without touching the gloves or the inside of the wrapper
Now open the sterile glove packaging. Note that it opens like a book. First, unfold the top and bottom flaps and crease them so they stay open. Then pull on the side flaps to pull the wrapper open. Sometimes you have to pull hard. Note again to crease down the middle of the package. This helps the package stay open, because sometimes it is prone to close back in on itself.
4. Pick up the dominant hand’s glove by touching only the rolled cuff
Next, take your nondominant hand and pick up the dominant hand's glove by the rolled cuff. Remember: only touch the rolled cuff portion of a sterile glove.
5. Pull the glove onto your dominant hand, only touching the inside of the glove
To pull the glove onto your dominant hand, hold it fairly high, because as you put on a sterile glove, you do not want the fingers to graze against the surface of the table or anything else.
6. Pull the other glove onto your nondominant hand
Now that the dominant hand is in the sterile glove, use the fingers of that (dominant) hand to scoop up under the cuff of the nondominant hand's gloves. To do this, scoop up into the cuff, keeping your thumb out, and put your nondominant hand into the glove and roll it down.
Note that if rolling occurs on the cuff, you cannot unroll the glove, because that rolled part has now touched your skin, and is no longer sterile. You just have to carry on with that roll in the cuff.
Finally, stand still with your fingers interlaced until you are ready to perform the sterile procedure. This is to help withstand the urge to use your hands and accidentally touch something that is non-sterile — moving your hair or touching something nearby, for example. If you did that, you would have to start the process all over again.
Hi, I'm Ellis with Level Up RN. In this video, I'll be demonstrating how to put on sterile gloves. I'll be utilizing the steps that are included in our clinical nursing skills deck. So if you have the deck, grab this card, and you can follow along on the steps with me. If you don't have the deck and you're interested in getting one, head on over to leveluprn.com. After the demonstration, I'll be coming back here to show you just a couple more things about sterile gloving.
To prepare for sterile gloving, I've removed my jewelry and done my hand hygiene and gotten a pack of sterile gloves. So the sterile gloves are dependent on size, so sometimes it takes a bit to decide what size is the right size for you. I like to wear a seven and a half. So my first step is to simply open the outer packaging and remove the sterile glove packaging itself. I place it on a solid surface that's at least waist height, that's clean, and then I can go ahead and open it. It opens kind of like a book. So I'm going to unroll those flaps, unroll these flaps, and then I'm going to use these flaps to pull the wrapper open.
Sometimes you have to really pull, see how it kind of crease the middle of there, so that it stays open. Because otherwise, it's prone to close back in on itself. So the first thing I'm going to do is take my nondominant hand, which for me is my left hand, so my nondominant hand, and I'm going to pick up my dominant hands glove by the rolled cuff. So I'm going to only touch this rolled cuff portion. I'm going to hold it fairly high, because as I struggle into it, I don't want the fingers to graze against the surface of the table or anything. All right, so I've gotten my dominant hands glove on. I'm now going to use my fingers of this hand to scoop up under the cuff of my nondominant hands gloves. So I'm going to scoop up into this cuff, keeping my thumb out, so that I can now put my nondominant hand into this glove and roll it down. If rolling occurs on the cuff like mine did, you cannot unroll that because that has now touched my skin, so it's not sterile.
So however they end up going on on your wrist like that is just how they're going to be. And then I like to kind of stand like this until I'm ready to do something because the compelling feeling to move your hair or touch something can be really strong. And if you do that, you have to start the process over again. So I'll stand like this until I'm ready to perform my sterile procedure. And that's how you put sterile gloves on.
Sterile gloving can feel a little bit overwhelming, so I want to make sure that you have all the information you need to do it successfully. After you open the first turn, go ahead and crease down this top and this bottom crease before grabbing your flap, pulling it out, and trying to do that little puff that I mentioned in my first video. This just helps your packaging hopefully lay as flat as possible and not accidentally close while you're trying to put your gloves on. Another thing I wanted to mention is that it's also going to help you a little bit if you just back up from where you've put your sterile gloves. That allows you to resist the temptation or to accidentally lean over your gloves while you're putting them on.
So if I take this step back, I'm able to pick up my cuff and move slightly away. Because what I have seen students do is, while they're putting this glove on and my fingers are dangling, they'll touch stuff, they'll touch the table, they'll touch themselves. And if these fingers touch anything, they're no longer sterile. So take a step back and be very cognizant of where the fingers are dangling so that they're not touching anything as you pull it on.
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