Disposable (single use) gloves are a thin latex rubber or nitrile covering for the hand that some people choose to use during manual sex – using your hand to touch / finger your partner’s genitals (penis, vulva, vagina) or anus.

You may be surprised to see gloves on the list of safe sex methods, however, they are actually quite a ‘handy’ tool to have in the bedroom. Using a glove cannot only help to reduce the risk of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) but is also useful if you:

  • have long fingernails and are worried about safety or hygiene;
  • like to switch between different sexual activities without wanting to stop the flow (to wash hands etc.);
  • are worried about keeping mess to a minimum if you’re into anal play;
  • want a smoother, more pleasurable experience (as even the most well-kept hands can be a bit rough).

How do gloves reduce the risk of STIs?

Manual sex (using hands for sexual stimulation) is very low risk when it comes to STIs, however, is still a risk. By providing a barrier between the hand and the genitals, gloves can prevent the transfer of bodily fluids.

Gloves also reduce the chance of fingernails cutting or scraping the delicate skin of the genitals, which can increase the risk of transmitting infections.

Other infections (such as urinary tract infections) from bacteria and germs on hands can be minimised by using gloves too.

How do you use gloves for manual sex?

  • Check the expiry date on the box of gloves
  • Put the glove on
  • Apply a water-based lubricant to the outside of the glove
  • You are now ready for manual sex
  • After manual sex, remove the glove by peeling it down your hand from the wrist to your fingers, turning it inside out to contain any fluid
  • Throw the glove in the bin (not down the toilet)


  • Each disposable glove can be used once only
  • Latex and non-latex varieties are available
  • Use powder-free gloves as powdered gloves can irritate the delicate genital skin and can have other health risks
  • Applying water-based lubricant on the outside of the glove may increase pleasure
  • Always use a new glove when changing between the anus and vagina for manual sex, to minimise the transfer of bacteria from the anus to vagina
  • Gloves come in many sizes and colours so find some that you and your partner both enjoy
  • It is important to change gloves between partners, and/or before touching yourself
  • If you don’t have a glove handy, condoms can be used on your fingers for manual sex in place of a glove
  • If the glove breaks, stop the sexual activity, throw the glove away and use a new one

Where can I find gloves?

Gloves are available in supermarkets, chemists/pharmacies, online stores, Family Planning clinics and sexual health clinics. For more fun varieties, try adult toy stores.


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