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Why do disposable gloves have an expiration date?

If stored properly disposable gloves should be good for about five years.

ATLANTA — ATLANTA – Businesses, hospitals, and homes have loaded up on disposable gloves as a means of protection, but those gloves won’t last forever.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made disposable gloves a necessity for many people while on the job. The CDC recommends them if you’re cleaning and disinfecting your home or caring for someone sick with COVID-19.

Although medical experts tell us they won’t necessarily stop the spread of germs, some people have taken to wearing gloves in public. But anyone who has stocked up on disposable gloves needs to remember that nothing lasts forever.

Those gloves come with an expiration date. Here’s why.

If stored properly, latex and nitrile gloves should be good for about five years. That’s if they’re kept in their original packaging and kept in the right place.

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“Expiration dates are not mandated by the FDA for gloves, but many manufacturers do give an expiration date to their gloves,” says Jen Hines of Glovenation. “All materials break down over time, including synthetic and natural rubber (latex) gloves.”

Gloves kept beyond their expiration date, or shelf life, can become brittle and tear or crack when they’re stretched.

“How fast a glove deteriorates typically depends on how you store them,” says Hines.

Disposable gloves last longer if they’re kept in a cool dark place.

Once they’re taken out of their packaging and exposed to moisture and light, they’ll deteriorate much faster.

The Food and Drug Administration notes that gloves may still offer some protection beyond their expiration date.  If the gloves are discolored or have visible holes or tears, it’s time to throw them away.

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