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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

When it comes to protecting your hands, do your work gloves actually work?

After all that epic stuff the last few weeks about buying/not buying Lotuses, then learning that I'm losing my five rented storage spaces, this week we're going to talk about something more simple. Gloves. For decades, I was a bare-handed do-it-yourselfer. I plunged my unsheathed skin into just about anything.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-hack-mechanic/when-it-comes-to-protecting-your-hands-do-yo...
84 REPLIES 84
DUB6
Specialist

H-m-m-m. Here is my rant for today. I'm against one-use disposable gloves made from non-recyclable or at least biodegradable materials. To use a pair (or two or three pair!) for some minor maintenance procedure, and then just flipping them into the trash is, to me, a disregard for our environment that is part of our overall problem with humans vs. Earth. It's like those little K-cup thingies. You use them to make ONE CUP of coffee and then throw a piece of plastic into the trashcan. One small piece, to be sure, but there are millions of folks doing the same thing. For ONE CUP! Easy, sure, but how does the planet get rid of all those leftovers from our "easy cups o' Joe"? Disposable gloves strike me as being much the same. I've got some good gloves to protect my skin from really caustic or easily-absorbed items, like some solvents. But I'll continue to get my hands a little greasy now and then, and not throw three pairs of gloves in the garbage just to keep my fingernails looking pretty, thanks.
Sajeev
Community Manager

And those K-cups only brew a mediocre cup of coffee on their best day. And it wasn't until 2020 when they made the cups recyclable. 

DUB6
Specialist

   I am not exactly a coffee snob - I worked both as a long-haul trucker and in some construction trades, spend time in the military, as well as being a duck hunter (stopping at a C-store at 4:00 a.m. for some java is often a real assault on your taste buds) - so I'm no stranger to a "mediocre cup of coffee", for sure.  But when offered a cup made with one of those things, I generally politely refuse.  I totally agree, however, that the few times I accepted, I got about 3/4 of a full serving, and taste/aroma that would never get written home about!

Tsaxman
Advanced Driver

Here is my two cents. Buy your favorite locally-ground beans and use them in one of these:

https://www.thecoffeemaven.com/best/reusable-k-cup

Then you can wash out the cup and us it ad infinitum.
DUB6
Specialist

   Yeah, that is a reasonable solution @Tsaxman.  I gave one of those to my son-in-law, who adamantly refused to ditch his K-cup machine.  As for me, I will continue to buy whole beans and grind them myself so as to get the freshest and oiliest brew I can each morning.

   Now, I'm trying to figure out how to tie this discussion into the overall reason this site exists - you know, to give a forum for automotive enthusiasts to talk about all things automotive.  The best I can come up with is that brewing and drinking coffee is kinda related to working on and driving favorite cars just like listening to your favorite music is.

   They're feel-good things.

   Pretty shaky connection, I admit, but it's the best I got!  😄

Tinkerah
Engineer

Music and coffee? Almost as important to cars as gas and oil. I say a perfectly solid connection.
coop
Intermediate Driver

All too often "recyclable" is just for marketing purposes.
Tim
Technician

Don't trade landfill waste for your personal health, however. You really shouldn't be getting your hands buried in (often carcinogenic) chemicals in the name of auto maintenance. It's about much more than having to clean greasy hands.

Besides, when you wash your greasy hands in the sink, all that water goes down the drain ends up somewhere, so in one sense, you are redirecting the problem by trading a pair of gloves in the landfill vs. solvents, chemicals and cleaners in the septic system, sewer, possible water treatment plant, ocean, etc.

Maybe a good pair of reusable gloves as described in the article is your ideal partner.
DUB6
Specialist

@Tim - I didn't say anything about washing my greasy hands... 😋

But your point is valid!

DaveP
Detailer

When I go to car shows I look at the owner's hands - that can tell you if they really work on their own cars or just throw $$$ and someone to do the work for them.
DaveA
Instructor

There’s nothing wrong with paying someone to fix something. Some people don’t have the time. Some people aren’t mechanically inclined.

I like wrenching but sometimes it’s cheaper for me to pay someone than to do it myself, as I can make more money at work than the repair is worth.
65SS
New Driver

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m a little tired of having “wokies “ feeling the need to scold grown ups over just about everything. That’s MY rant for the day.
As far as gloves are concerned, I like the Harbor Freight 9 mil nitrile gloves. As long as they don’t rip, I’ll use them more than once. I don’t mind the fact that my hands get sweaty in them, it’s not that big of a deal. Like Tim said in another post, I t’s better than washing your hands in the sink and having the oil, etc go down the drain.
Maybe we all just need to buy Priuses and get rid of the nasty, gasoline and oil chugging muscle cars!
TG
Technician

I don't really think it is gloves or K-cups that are the problem... I think it's 7 billion, wait 7.5 billion... wait.. 8 billion?... people using Mc Donalds straws and plastic handle bags that might be more the root of the problem. No matter how much conservatism we do, we seem to add enough people to take up the slack. My 2 cents... Now I'm not saying I have a solution here, but if we start talking about that problem we might end up with some solutions that work better than EVs and wasting a liter of water to rinse out the spaghetti sauce jar
xrotaryguy
Pit Crew

Fun fact for tea drinkers:
Putting a tea bag in the same spot where a k-cup goes makes just a good a cup of tea.

The plastic in a coffee k-cup doesn't need to be there.
bradfa
Advanced Driver

I've been using the Venom gloves for a few years, I'm able to find them at Lowe's fairly often. The price has definitely gone up during COVID, I swear they used to be like $23 for 100 pack at Lowe's but now they're more like $23 for a 50 pack. They're the best disposable gloves I've used so far and they fit my L-to-XL sized hands well.
Hammerinhank
Pit Crew

Gloves, safety glasses, respirators -- where have all the real men gone? I grew up in the day when you scuffed a fresh set of asbestos brake shoes with 36 grit sandpaper and blew the dust off with compressed air. Good mechanics had nicknames like one eyed Jack, three fingers, or wheezy.
Tsaxman
Advanced Driver

So true. The local body shop, on the corner of the street where I crew up, was owned by an WW II Marine vet, who I would watch spray paint enamel on cars in a booth, with an unfiltered Camel hanging from the corner of his mouth. He always warned me that if I put a fingerprint on one of his shiny paint jobs, he would spray paint me blue.

A couple of decades later, I ran into him and asked him how he was doing. "Dying," he said. "Wanna guess from what? Lung cancer, as expected."
Zephyr
Instructor

I started working in the auto damage appraisal field in 1970, long before paint booths became required. In those days painters literally never lived long enough to retire. They would either paint the car right in the middle of the shop in the same spot where they repaired it, or in a 3 walled lean-to behind the shop. Hearing protection? Don't make me laugh. Back when they used air chisels to cut off panels the noise was so deafening that people who just had to go into the shop to inspect a car (like me) would develop tinnitus. A big problem developed when someone "improved" bondo by adding microscopic glass balls to it. Worked great for repairs, but if you breathed in the dust containing those microspheres they would collect in the bottom of your lungs and permanently impair your breathing. On the mechanic side of the building the exhaust gases from running cars just vented into the room. Even office workers weren't safe; in conference rooms the room was so filled with secondhand tobacco smoke that I would always emerge from meetings with a headache. And I can remember well walking into brake shops where the distinctive smell of asbestos dust hung heavy in the air permanently. Everyone in repair shops complained about government interference when the EPA and OSHA started regulating things, but they all live a lot longer now.
miata93
Instructor

I worked with a guy that would test for vacuum leaks with a lit Camel cigarette.
coop
Intermediate Driver

lol. But seriously, have you ever seen (I mean seen, like in the ICU) anyone die of lung CA or mesothelioma? Bet not.
JAG
Detailer

Again wokeness hits Hagerty! They make a reusable K cup brew system so get over it people. Or do I make a pot of coffee with a throw away filter and ditch the pot when I don't drink it all? For gloves I just use a heavy duty rubber glove that fit well, just because I don't like throwing away stuff. I do sweat in them, but they can be rinsed out with a minimum of water. Environmentally using GOJO or some other heavy duty cleaner and a lot of water is just as much a strain on resources. Also using those caustic, or worse, cleaners is not good for your body.
Tim
Technician

I'm not a coffee achiever, but I've seen other people make coffee. It seems that one is able to control the amount of coffee grounds and water to make coffee as strong as they like and as many or few cups as they like. The paper filter is a preferable landfill additive vs. a plastic cup.
DaveP
Detailer

Old school here - just use a drip Mr coffee type with paper filters - then they go into my compost heap - makes good coffee and great compost. BTW - my mother used to throw coffee grinds in her flower garden - the plants apparently loved it - we called that flower patch "the Jungle".
And yes - you cannot work on a car without a cuppa coffee!
DUB6
Specialist

If my wife caught me dumping coffee grounds anywhere but her compost pile...well, let's just say that I might end up on that pile shortly thereafter.

pcchuck
Intermediate Driver

I was a Toolmaker and you just can't do that type of work wearing gloves. Only when handling large ugly stuff getting its' first ride on a machine did I ever bother to wear them... and then removed them to operate the machine. The last thing you want is the glove to catch on a rotating machine component. Granted this was using ''traditional''' machines... low rpm spindles. Now the CNC machines are enclosed. The cars I drive now all go to the dealer for warranty repairs.. dunno if the ''techs'' wear gloves..
pcchuck
Intermediate Driver

As to gloves.. i do wear ''mechanics gloves'' to work on the lawnmower.. coated fabric.. black, thin, flexible.. ok for wrenching, but fitting small parts.... not so much.

Billthecat707
Instructor

They do, mostly. Provided free by the dealerships I worked at.
ROK
New Driver

I too have gone through a lot of gloves over the years and I usually go bare handed unless it's slimy, greasy, nasty work. Then it's the 9 mil gloves from Harbor Freight. Yes, you can tear them, but they are pretty tough and I can frequently reuse them until they tear. The down side is sweating in the gloves. I've had sweat dripping out of the gloves when my hands are reaching up. One hot day, I put some ice in a bucket and periodically put my hands in the cold water. I've also used these gloves to install a nut/washer in a tight location. Drop the nut down the index finger hole and make a small cut over the center of the hole and then reach into the tight location and feed the bolt into the nut. Once it catches, just pull back with your hand and rip the glove off of the nut. One glove wasted and one problem solved. It's worth it.
thehackmechanic
Advanced Driver

Nice hack!
dhaugh
Detailer

Okay, first let me proclaim that I'm an expert on gloves used in the garage, and for a whole bunch of other operations including construction, carpentry and electrical work. Oh, one small disclaimer here, I'm a Self Proclaimed expert, which may differ from your definition of an expert.

For many, many years now I've been wearing gloves for everything I do, even in the kitchen to patty a bunch of burgers, I swear by them. I've tried them all, the disposable, the reusable, the Mechanix brand and everything in between, the hands down winner is the purple nitrile gloves manufactured by either Kimberly Clark or Halyard, they're both the same. They're thicker and more tear resistant than anything else on the market.

Now I agree with Rob's comments on sweat, I can only remove them inside out or by doing a Howie Mandel inside my glove to inflate it and remove it in one piece right side out. In the old days I'd simply discard them after every use since pre pandemic pricing was 100 bucks for 1000 gloves. Now, unfortunately they're almost 400 bucks for 1000, so now I reuse until they're torn. For brake or exhaust work (a lot of sharp edges) I double glove, you'll never get a new glove on that sweaty hand, when the outer one tears I simple replace it with a new sheath over the base unit, it works great. And, they clean up easily with a paper towel and some brake clean so you can go from gear lube to burger pattying with the same set and know they're clean.

I'm not a fan of the thick ones, you lose your dexterity, I'll stick with the Halyard nitriles all day every day and twice on Sundays.
Marv48
Intermediate Driver

You know the definition of an expert is: Anyone that is 50 miles from home.
DUB6
Specialist

Remind me not to eat burgers at your house on the same day as you change out the ring and pinion on your hot rod.

OHCOddball
Advanced Driver

Depends on what you are doing to determine what kind of gloves. If using chemicals like for parts washing or exposure to gasoline/oil, use heavyweight Nitrile. To combat hand sweating, get a bigger size and wear cotton gloves under. For just wrenching, cotton gloves (or Kevlar if worried about cuts) work fine. That's what we wore on the assembly line. You get used to wearing them after awhile and can handle small screws with no problems, just be careful around spinning impact wrenches so you don't tear a finger off. They are moderately washable IF you don't get into the grease. You should be scraping off all the gunk before you wrench anyway to prevent goo from getting where you don't want it (like your eyes) or having a wrench slip because everything is covered with oily muck. "Mechanic's" gloves are OK but cost more.
Triumphant
Pit Crew

I can relate to the author about being a wrencher, guitarist (fingerstyle, naturally) and writer. Those are such different uses of our hands, and the hands will pay a steep price when tough wrenching duty calls. Nice article on glove protection. Thanks and keep practicing those arpeggios!
Oldyellr
New Driver

These days it's very common to see professional mechanics wearing gloves, even Youtubers. I never have, except for really heavy work. What a bunch of pansies!
DrOverboost
Intermediate Driver

I agree, glove waste is a real problem. But I wonder what the contaminated water and soap chemicals do to Mother Earth.
With a little effort it is possible to learn to use thick, re-usable gloves on delicate tasks. It simply takes the will to learn how, much the way you first adapted from no-gloves to glove work.
In the Operating Room we use very thin nitrile gloves for the tactile advantage. We double up for some steps in procedures and strip the outer layer off as needed. It doesn't protect against sharps like needles and scalpels (don’t ask how I know). OR waste is astounding but necessary.
When wrenching, I use thick, re-usable mechanics gloves on my 8 second drag truck and my supercharged 1980 “street Vette”. And I wrench on them a lot.
Give it another try.
Tomcat59
Intermediate Driver

Medical waste gets a free pass IMHO. Use all you need. My kids are all medical professionals, son in law a surgeon. And isn't medical waste handled differently than regular consumer waste?

Nice to see a surgeon wrenching and putting the "money makers" on the line!
DrOverboost
Intermediate Driver

A multitude of materials are discarded daily by the tons. These days many instruments are “re-posable” to limit waste. Think razor and razor blade (if you’re an old-timer like me). I suspect much of it is still burned or land fill.
coop
Intermediate Driver

Of course, med waste is handled differently, especially sharps. And I'm a bit confused by the Dr.'s comment of adapting from "no-gloves to gloves" in the OR. Is the Dr. trying to tell us they are (+/-) ~120 yrs old?
DrOverboost
Intermediate Driver

I meant no-gloves to gloves for wrenching. Glove- free surgery went out with Halsted.
Tim
Technician

Rob, you mentioned 3mm nitrile gloves, but I'm thinking you meant 3 mil. 🙂
thehackmechanic
Advanced Driver

Thanks. I believe that that crept in as an editing error.
HotRodGTO
Intermediate Driver

I've been using Nitrile gloves for the past 10 years. Absolutely essential for keeping the grease and oils and whatever else off your hands. Keeps those products from absorbing into your body as well.
And of course...the 5-second clean-up! As for being environmentally friendly, think of the water, soap, paper towels, laundered towels, and other cleaners you will be saving! Nice article. Thanks.
miata93
Instructor

I have had good luck with the black and yellow Firm Grip nitrile dipped gloves available at Home Depot for just over $1 a pair. Although they are sold as disposable, I get many uses out of them by throwing them in the washer on the warm cycle then air dry. They are good until something like Permatex or epoxy stains them or when the elasticity of the nylon webbing wears out from repeated washings. The Grease Monkey gloves seem to be the closest thing to them that are available on Amazon, but I have yet to try them.
The old mechanics' trick that I use when I can't use gloves is to saturate my hands with Vaseline and then wipe it off before I start working. That way the Vaseline which is clean occupies the minute spaces where the dirty grease would get in. Cleanup is much easier. Dirty grease will always find a place to settle in dry perfectly clean hands.
My Dad would always tell me that the secret to clean fingernails is to keep them short and wash your hair. Sage advice.
miata93
Instructor

I should add that the nitrile on the Firm Grip gloves is only on the business end so the sweat does not become a problem.
Tomcat59
Intermediate Driver

I'll just poke the gorilla a little on the "disposable" front.

So none of you use(d) disposable diapers on you kids, right? All cloth, right? And no disposable wipes, right? 🙂 The mountains of disposable diapers in landfills far eclipses a few pairs of gloves. And that is all non biodegradable plastic polymers that make the magic work in the diaper. And let's not get started talking about putting raw sewage into a non-hazardous landfill.

I spent many years with "gray" hands. I started using disposable gloves with things like brake fluid, transmission fluid and diesel fuel. I find myself grabbing 5 mil disposable more often than not now for general "dirty" work and a heavier "mechanics" gloves for impact tool use (vibration) and breaking things loose in tight quarters for basic abrasion/cut resistance.

But a lot of work just needs to be done bare handed, like starting a bolt in a tight spot without cross threading it. And I don't mind my hands having a bit of callous and a few nicks to remind me of the value of working with them.
DaveP
Detailer

Nope - all cotton diaper service for us (that was 23 years ago) and our son turned out just fine (no diaper rash, etc) Plus those old cloth diapers make great polishing rags - the CLEAN ones that is!
GrumpyOne
Intermediate Driver

I've been using 9 mil nitrile gloves for years. Yes they do make your hands sweat a bit but when you wash up, it very easy as no real scrubbing is required.

Harbor Freight is a good source by mail order. Tough to find in a HF store though mostly due to the plandemic...
OldFordMan
Advanced Driver

Back to greasy hands: Rub a bit of BABY LOTION into your fingers---tips and nails--then hands BEFORE you start the work. Get it on the cheap at dollar store---or good 'ol J&J's.
Then after working and all greasy apply it again real good and the grease mostly gone. Wipee that off on paper or cloth rag. It will be gone when you then wash with soap and water. No gloves, no expensive Go-Jo.