Do you use Latex gloves when cleaning firearms?

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I am a gun chemical collector. I love buying and trying new solvents and oils. The more potent and foul smelling the better. What I don’t like is having that smell on me for the rest of the day. I also like to ensure I do not leave residual salts from my hands on firearms that have been put away for long or medium-term storage. Are you, like me, a latex glove addict? Or do you think I need to man up?

Photo courtesy of Sailor Curt



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • http://my.foolishpride.org Scott Henson

    Stay with the gloves. They are beneficial to you and your guns. Also, just because you use them now, doesn’t mean that you are no longer capable of cleaning your guns without them. So I see no downside to using them.

  • Benjamin

    “it’s like polishing the brass on the titanic, it’s all going down”. It’s only metal and wood brother, even the mona lisa is falling apart.

  • matt

    i do not use gloves, tho i should, manning up and not using gloves is actually a bad idea, all of us that dont really should buy a box. any kind of chemical on your skin is potentially a deadly thing. solvents and oils and what not can cause anything from allergic reactions to cancer. so yes, i’m a idiot and i do not use gloves, but i urge my self to remember to buy some and every one else to go on out and get a box. latex is the way to go. nitrite gloves can allow microbes thru so i imagine they wont actually help prevent anything else from getten thru as well.

    • Zach

      Ummm so that’s why surgeons use nitrile gloves? To allow microbes to infect the patient? Sorry buddy nitrile gloves are superior to latex gloves in every way but price. Nitrile gloves are also the standard issue stuff on refineries, tankers etc. People should use gloves as much as possible when handling harsh chemicals, sensitizing yourself to lubricants used in firearms can make the skin on your hands peel just by handling a weapon with trace amounts of the chemical you have been sensitized… It has ruined careers of many people in different jobs, buddy of mine can’t even enter a room where certain epoxy resins have been used without getting severe allergic reaction from the fumes and that’s only because he once forgot to put on the gloves and respirator when laminating carbon fiber parts.

      • Bill

        Nitrile gloves are used since the risk of latex allergy exposure to patients or provider is high enough to warrant alternate material use.

  • Nate

    That Lava soap with the pumus usually helps, but some of the synthetic oils are still pretty potent I’ve found. May start using gloves with that stuff.

  • Alexander_Degtyarev

    I love the smell of weaponry in the morning.

  • Jerry

    I always make sure to dab a little Hoppes #9 behind my ears when I am done. Drives the gals wild.

    • http://deadcoyote.blogspot.com/ Jerry

      Tip to other Jerry, women don’t really like the smell of perfume.

    • W

      believe it or not, jerry, youre not the first person ive heard that does this (assuming your not joking). what is it with you guys and hoppes? ;)

  • Steve

    I don’t use gloves but that’s because I avoid the naphtha-esque solventsm take it easy on the oil, and always forget to buy gloves anyway. There is no downside to using gloves.

  • Erasmus

    Always use latex gloves, never clean without them. Who needs that crap on your skin?

  • CMathews

    I use Nitrile Gloves. I always used them working on cars, I recently started using them while cleaning my firearms. The Nitrile gloves I use are meant to be used on vehicle maintenance, so they are a bit thicker than exam gloves. I also found that they are more durable than the latex gloves that I had. YMMV.

  • Joe

    I had never considered using gloves but it’s not a bad idea. On the down side, I hate the smell of the gloves.

    My wife hates that I stink up the house with the solvent. If I could get no smell solvent that would be a much more positive impact.

    • jpr

      I use Frog Lube, and it seriously smells minty fresh. Not kidding.

    • msm

      BoreTech Eliminator is THE cleaning solvent of today. Doesn’t smell yet cleans fast.

      I use gloves with it anyway, don’t want to get any nasty stuff through my skin.

  • W

    no. i use froglube, which is good for my arthritis as well.

    When I previously used militech, i didnt use gloves. i agree with somebody if they wear gloves though.

  • Darkness

    No, I like the smell of Hoppe’s #9 on me afterwards…
    I also like my man card…
    ;P

  • Frank

    I recently tried a new one, Butch’s Bore Shine I think it was, which produced a slight burning sensation. Went to the gloves for that one. Thinking about going to gloves all the time anyhow, even with Hoppe’s. I don’t mind the smell, but I can’t get it off my hands and I don’t need to ingest any of that crap if I eat a sandwich or pick my nose or whatever.

  • http://barrelsmoke.blogspot.com 45er

    We started using Nitrile gloves many years ago for field-dressing animals. Then we started using them for both field-dressing and skinning. Then meat processing. It’s just so nice to not have dried, impossible-to-get-off bits of stuff under your nails and on your hands. That moved into wearing them for cleaning firearms as well. When you buy them by the huge box at Sam’s or Costco you might as well use them. A nice tip is to wear a couple of pairs for longer jobs so if one gets cut or torn or you just need to strip them off you don’t have to try and get another pair on your wet or sweaty hands.

  • HSR47

    I almost always use gloves. First, it means that I don’t have to worry about the solvents doing nasty things to my skin, or softening my fingernails so much that they start folding, and second it means that I don’t have to wash my hands immediately before I can do other things.

    The first is especially important when I come home from the range with several VERY dirty guns (1000 rounds split between a pair of 1911’s, 400+ through an AR15, and a few hundred each through a few XD’s) and end up spending a few hours cleaning, and the second is important when I clean before I leave the range.

  • AZRon

    Mercy sakes alive. By all means, let us consult our MSDS data sheets and see if we’ll get a boo-boo by cleaning our guns. How far we’ve fallen.

    Latex has it place for preventing caustic skin infiltration and conception. There’s been too much of one and not enough of the other.

    • fred johnson

      Good one, AZRon! :)

      It must be a generational thing. I don’t know any one my age* except professional auto mechanics that “glove up” to do some repair or cleaning work.

      I’m a professional traveling “mechanic” (called a tech) in another repair industry and gloves just get in the way of everything.

      Having slightly stained hands on occasion must not be politically correct anymore. We can’t dare let office workers see that we actually work with our hands in this country. :D

      *40s or older.

    • http://failure2neutralize.blogspot.com/ Art

      I’m sure it’s generational. Same generation that wears bicycle helmets.
      The MSDS for Hoppes #9 is a good read … but c’mon.

  • fred

    I don’t clean my guns!
    (Not really I just rarely do..)
    If I did it would indeed make sense to use gloves!
    Man up?
    You can be a man without being a cave man.

    • AZRon

      Now THAT’S funny!

      • AZRon

        Oops, meant as a reply to MARINEFO. Must be Hoppes poisoning.

  • MARINEFO

    I do not wear latex gloves Sam I am, I do not wear them on a boat, I do not wear them while afloat, I do not wear them in Iraq, I do like to wear them when I Jack…

  • Matt H

    Latex = better than nothing but with the possibility of developing allergies
    Nitrile = better
    Butyl Rubber = Best

    And if being manly means my liver, kidneys, and brain get a weekly dose of toxic chemicals…grow me tits and call me Nancy.

    • AZRon

      Sorry Nancy, I have no control over your physiology.

    • noob

      if you’re rubbing some strong estrogen creams into anything, you’d want gloves to avoid growing tits :)

  • Todd Williams

    Actually, I wear cotton cloves… that way no oils left behind and you can use them in spots as well. You can reuse them a 30 or 40 times before they start falling apart. Yes, they are the same kind of gloves for polishing brass or silver… They work great.

  • Alex

    I’ve never used gloves but if I ever did it wouldn’t be because of the solvents I use, probably because of the lead buildup. I use water-based cleaners anyways.

  • Laserbait

    I tried using nitrile gloves a couple of times, but I cant find a set that fits my fingers correctly. They’re either too long, or, too narrow. If I could find a brand that fit well, I would use them.

    I only use CLP for cleaning, and that washes up easily with Dawn Dish Soap, so it’s not a huge deal to me.

  • Tweak

    Nitrile for sure, latex and oil don’t play well together. I started using them on oil changes and the time saved from clean up and not leaving oily prints all over the car is greatly appreciated. I’d use them on guns if I expected any prolonged exposure to cleaning products but not for general handling.

  • KC

    I use nitrile when working on my car, not my guns however

  • http://flickr.com/greyguns greyghost

    Anything with petroleum will eat through the microscopic pores in the Latex gloves

    • http://zbranekvalitne.cz/ Czechnology

      Fast enough before I’m done with cleaning?

      • http://suburbansdomain.blogspot.com/ Suburban

        Not in my experience. I bought a box of latex gloves without really thinking about it. In the time it takes to clean a single firearm, it wasn’t an issue. If you were cleaning 2 or 3 or more, perhaps it would be an issue, but the gloves would be pretty sweaty and nasty after the 2nd anyway, I would think.

  • http://www.armedculture.com/ Jason

    I just use M-Pro 7. You could probably drink it and be ok. Clean, but ok.

  • Mouse

    I use gloves, but not to keep oil off of me, I wear them to protect the guns from the oils on my skin (I know how silly this may sound to some of you, but if guns could be lubricated with that kind of oil, then they’d sell in in cans), and to prevent cuts. If I get blood on my guns, I don’t want it to be mine.

  • Charlie

    No I don’t but now I will think about it.

  • MrMaigo

    I just don’t like dirty hands, also, I change my cloths when I’m done. Chemical burn sucks, only gotta learn that once.

  • Alex

    I never have, but I will use work gloves when I am doing any gunsmithing or major scrubbing.

  • Michael

    The skin is the largest organ of the body. If you wouldn’t drink it or soak one of your kidneys in it, don’t let it soak on your skin. It absorbs a lot more than people think (lots of drugs now are administered transdermally). Same thing goes for breathing the vapors.

  • Eric

    I always use gloves. Not to protect myself from the solvents, but from dissolved copper, lead and other junk.

  • rasp65

    I do not wear gloves while cleaning, but I only use the newer GREEN waterbased cleaning products.

  • West

    Whats the downside to using gloves?
    I personally like the smell of Hoppes oil but I dont want it, or other toxins, absorbed into my skin.
    Plus it saves clean up time. I just peel them off and rinse off the sweaty powder and im done.

  • alannon

    Last I tried using latex gloves, cooking type, the clp ate through the gloves…

    • Stella

      Anything petroleum based will rot latex. Vinyl gloves are a good alternative, but I prefer to use non-toxic chemicals.

  • http://www.billbarrphotography.com Bill

    I am a formally-trained chemist. I always wear eye-protection, gloves and some kind of clothing cover (typically a jewelers apron with the bottom affixed to the edge of the table – easier to find small, dropped parts that way). Also, I never wear contacts when using solvents even when I am wearing goggles. Vapors can bond to soft contacts and capillary action will draw harmful chemicals across the underside of a contact lens.

    • Alex C.

      Actually OSHA determined that contact lenses are safe for use with even vaporous chemicals so long as you wear eye protection (which you should be doing when using dangerous chemicals anyway).

  • إبليس

    Gloves to prevent my oily mitts from rusting the ancient rifles.

  • gimlet

    Nitrile all the way. I saw somewhere that gun cleaning solvents will eat through and disintegrate latex gloves during the course of a single use. Not sure how true or universal that is, but I haven’t had that problem with nitrile gloves and I really don’t want that caustic crud on my hands.

  • http://kingofallawesome.blogspot.com Jim

    I would’ve never thought to glove up for this. The point about getting oils on the gun is interesting though. Like some have said before, I don’t glove up doing vehicle mx or any other chore I can get my hands dirty. (the only exception is if it’s cold out and I start to lose feeling in my fingers…)

    I think it’s a combination of playing in the dirt as a kid and figuring we all go sometime. Also, I have man-hands, and I’m proud of them; scars and all.

  • ap

    atopic dermatitis sucks

  • Mike Knox

    I use black electrical gloves while wearing an oversized white lab coat pretending to be a mad scientist..

  • D

    I don’t use gloves usually, but i certainly could see cases where i’d want to.

  • http://failure2neutralize.blogspot.com/ Art

    For Gawds sake … MAN UP.
    What’cha wanna do? Live forever?
    Gonna be a hoot at the nursing home, senile, unable to wipe yer own ass, drooling, but you’ll have a pristine liver regarding Xylene?

    Figure the cigarettes, booze, jealous husband or cycle crash will get me long before Hoppes will.

    • SpudGun

      I’m with you Art, whenever I see a sign saying ‘Danger Asbestos’, I not only ignore it, I run into the building, start hitting the wall with a hammer and then take several deep breaths, inhaling as much as the deadly poison as I can.

      I would go along with this overtly macho bullshit-a-thon when it comes to absorbing chemicals in my skin, but I’m a cigarette smoker.

      And as we all know, cigarettes will kill everyone stone dead within a sixty yard radius. So next time you are enjoying the ‘I care not for my own health, everyone is a total pussy’, you better not moan about smelling some tobacco smoke.

      • SpudGun

        Oh and eye and ear protection when you go shooting – who the hell came up with that?

        ;)

  • B

    As a former arms dealer and gunsmith – I wore latex or nitrile gloves at work when I would clean or do maintenance on a firearm, because depending on what the customer’s old oil, or the new factory oil that was on there, some of them bothered my hands (i.e. mild allergic reaction).

    It has nothing to do with not being manly, has everything to do with protecting myself from allergens that may bother me. Furthermore, after a fresh cleaning, the gloves ensures no skin oil on the bare metal of the firearm.

    Now, with my own personal ones, I use an oil that doesn’t bother me, without gloves. I probably would use gloves out of habit, as well as the gunsmithing apron to just keep clothing oil/grime free, but I usually don’t think of getting gloves when I work on my equipment, and I don’t have the apron.

    I would say your choice of wearing gloves is fine if that’s what you prefer.

  • http://yahoo Oilfield Rat

    Remember in the 1700’s when it was a honorable and manly thing to die of some kind of penis crud? …and now your worried about this?
    I swear..in 15 years men will sit down to pee and do so willingly.

    Not me, I’m gonna go quick and am peeing on everything I can.

    • Molon Labe!

      The chemicals we use to clean firearms is deadly poison and causes cancer. This has nothing to do with being less of a man and everything to do with being a smart man that lives long enough to see your grand children to use those guns.

  • matt

    So let me get this right. Half the people here glove up to keep themselves from absorbing solvents. But do these same people wear a respirator when they go shooting? Or are they ok with breathing exhaust byproducts, unburnt powder, copper and lead? I know when I’m shooting indoors i’m blowing black out of my nose for a couple hours, i’m sure that is far worse than anything in my gun cleaning products.

    • matt

      the only time I can think that i’ve gloved up with nitrile/latex, is when im changing my oil, cleaning the toilet, or using something seriously caustic.

  • Justin R.

    There’s a reason that cancer rates have shot up in our society. Also, I’d like to have kids one day, without birth defects caused by a ego-driven sense of manliness.

    • Logan

      It’s not an ego thing or a manly thing it’s just the fact of convenience. I’ll wear gloves when I’m dealing with harsher chemicals in the blueing process, but using Hoppes for general gun cleaning its not a big deal.

      • Adam

        Is that your professional medical opinion?

  • JC

    The best way to buy the Nitrile gloves is by the case of 1000. It makes them about 7 cents each.

    • http://suburbansdomain.blogspot.com/ Suburban

      The company I work for started buying gloves by the bucket load. Check uline.com for the bucket o’ nitrile gloves. It’s a pretty good deal.

  • http://elmtreeforge.blogspot.com Firehand

    Nitrile; latex gloves get baggy real fast when in contact with a lot of oils and solvents.

    Don’t use them all the time, but quite often; both safety and so I don’t have to wash that smelly/nasty stuff off.

    And when I’m outside using brake cleaner, I’ve got a pair of stripping gloves(for using finish strippers on furniture and such) that I use, as brake cleaners eat nitrile gloves as well as latex.

  • Goyo

    No downside whatever. Started using nitrile gloves years ago for auto work when I noticed my mechanic using them when replacing a tranny seal on my car. From there it was natural to use them for anything grungy. Gun cleaning and esp reloading; I used to wind up with my left hand coated with a mix of lead dust and lube after a good reloading session. No more. Cheap and easy; big box of gloves costs less than a big jug of gritty hand cleaner.

  • fred johnson

    It is interesting that the comments seem to overwhelmingly favor the use of gloves while cleaning firearms, yet the poll results suggest the opposite.

    Considering many people probably don’t shoot enough to clean their guns very often, it would make sense that the low-frequency shooters would have less exposure to gun cleaning than some of the hi-volume gun shooters out there. That would reduce the worry of “chemical” exposure by a large degree for the low-frequency shooters.

  • EthanP

    All things are relative. My hands are not oily.
    I have a friend whose hands are so salty/oily
    that his finger prints are permanently etched
    into the blue in 2-3 hours if not well cleaned.

  • http://sailorcurt.com Sailorcurt

    I just found this post today. That’s my picture you used in the post. Thanks for the credit and the link.

    I actually only use gloves sometimes…basically when I think about it. My problem is that my hands absorb the chemicals and then smell like them for days. Doesn’t matter whether it’s gun cleaning chemicals, motor oil or onion juice.

    I actually like the smell of Hoppe’s No. 9 and Rem oil so it doesn’t bother me in the least…it’s The Wife who isn’t quite so fond of it. So, when I think about it, I do put on the gloves to keep harmony in the home.

    When I don’t think about it…I just keep my hands away from her for a few days.

    Thanks again for thinking my picture interesting enough to re-use and for the link.

  • smartacus

    anybody make blue nitrile prophylactics?