Have you ever used a pair of household rubber gloves far beyond their need for replacement? I use rubber gloves to clean the bathroom or for a household chore that requires my hands to be submerged in water for any length of time. Normally, my rubber gloves acquire at least one hole before long, and need quick replacement. But the gloves I’m talking of, the Rubber Gloves that Wouldn’t Die, are the exception. They were approaching their eight-month birthday before they found themselves in the trash.
I’m sure you’re asking yourself, But that’s wonderful! Why would you even consider throwing away a hole-less pair of rubber gloves, when they’re still so full of potential?
In a perfect world, I would hold on to them and treasure them and revere them for their durability. But this is not a perfect world. Behold…
I used my trusty gloves they other day and was overcome by the odor they possessed. I didn’t smell it right away, mind you. I smelled it as my hands heated up in the rubber casing, and little puffs of foul air were expressed from their depths as I diligently worked to keep my house clean. When I was done with my chores, I sniffed the interior of those gloves and nearly keeled over with disgust. They went immediately into the trash, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars—or euros, as the case may be—and I washed my hands thoroughly.
But the story doesn’t end there. Oh no. The odors created by your own body have incredible staying power. As the afternoon wore on, I caught the occasional sniff of something foul. Something like old feet. As I folded laundry, the smell wafted under my nose, tantalizingly close. What is that smell, I wondered. Could that be me? My clothes were clean, I had showered that morning… Was I developing a foot-odor problem? I lifted one foot to my nose. (Yes, I am that limber, but I am 35 now, and I dimly noted that with age comes stiffness, and lifting that foot to my nose wasn’t as easy as it might have been five years ago.) No, it wasn’t my feet (thank god!).
Then I smelled it again.
I didn’t find out until a little while later, as I sat at the kitchen table with my son, watching him color. I put my chin in my hand, and there it was again, that unmistakable odor of old feet. What the heck was that? With a sense of dread, I lifted my hands to my nose and inhaled—and nearly passed out. The smell of feet was coming from my own hands! Horrors!
Did it ever occur to you how your hands, the hands you keep scrupulously clean by washing after every bathroom visit, every nose blowing, and every surreptitious lick from the cookie batter, could leave behind an accumulative stink so overwhelmingly bad it would render a perfectly good pair of gloves utterly useless? Probably not.
The gloves, causing my hands to sweat, over time had taken my sweaty shed skin particles and fermented them into a fragrant stew which clung possessively to its source, my hands, and did not want to let go. It took several hand washings for that odor to finally fade, and in the meantime, I learned my lesson. Rubber gloves, even those with no holes, do indeed have a short shelf life once they’ve been worn. So please, be sure to replace your household rubber gloves regularly. A special announcement from your public health service.