If someone you love has contracted COVID-19 and you’re caring for them at home, there’s a chance you’re wearing Personal Protective Equipment (or PPE) for the very first time.
In this article, we cover how to “don and doff” (put on and take off) PPE properly to help prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your home.
This article talks you through the following:
- What is PPE Donning and Doffing?
- Which PPE should be put on first and last?
- Which PPE should be removed first and last?
- Donning & Doffing sequences
- Safe practices while wearing PPE
What is Donning and Doffing?
Donning or “Putting On”
Donning refers to putting on the relevant and necessary PPE before entering an area where there may be potential exposure to pathogens such as viral or bacterial particles.
Doffing or “Taking Off”
Doffing refers to taking off the PPE worn after entering an area with potential exposure to pathogens such as viral or bacterial particles.
Both donning and doffing are extremely important and should be done with care.
Removing PPE safely to limit contamination to oneself or contamination to another person who may contact the discarded PPE is incredibly important.
Which PPE Should Be Put On First and Last?
Below is the recommended order for donning PPE.
Before donning PPE, always ensure hands have been washed with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The correct order for donning PPE is:
- Put on gown (if required)
- Put on face mask (respirator ideally)
- Put on goggles or face shield (if required)
- Put on gloves (if required)
Which PPE Should Be Removed First and Last?
Below is the recommended order for doffing PPE. Though if you are wearing a garment of PPE that is heavily contaminated or soiled, removing this item first is suggested.
After doffing each garment of PPE, ensure hands have been washed with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The correct order for doffing PPE is:
- Remove gloves (if required)
- Remove goggles or face shield (if required)
- Remove gown (if required)
- Remove face mask
Donning & Doffing Sequences
In every case, the PPE used is dependent on the level of precautions that are necessary. Such precautions include standard contact, droplet infection, and airborne infection. Each procedure and sequence for donning and doffing PPE should be adjusted to suit the particular type of Personal Protective Equipment being worn.
Step 1: Hand Hygiene
Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel to clean your hands.
Step 2: Gown (If required)
Put on your gown, from neck to knee, ensuring the torso is completely covered. Ensure the sleeves go down to your wrists and are fitting comfortably. Wrap around your back and tie at both neck and waist.
Step 3: Face Mask – Respirator or 3-Ply
Inspect the mask and ensure there are no holes or tears. Identify which side is the top (likely stiff and bendable). Hold the mask by the ear loops and place around each ear. If the mask has a stiff, bendable edge, pinch this until it fits snugly around your nose. Secure the mask around your nose and chin.
Step 4: Goggles or Face Shield (If required)
Place the goggles or face shield over your face and eyes. Adjust to ensure the fit is snug.
Step 5: Gloves (If required)
Inspect gloves and ensure there are no holes or tears. Put gloves on. If wearing a gown, extend the gloves to cover the wrists of the gown. Ensure there is no visible skin. If your gloves become contaminated at any stage, dispose of them immediately. Perform hand hygiene and then put on new gloves.
Step 1: Gloves (If used)
Grip the outside of one glove with the opposite gloved hand and peel it off. Hold the first removed glove in your gloved hand and peel the second glove off over the first glove. Discard safely in a trash can or waste container.
Step 2: Goggles or Face Shield (If used)
Hold the goggle arm or face shield headband and remove. Place in a safe area to be cleaned.
Step 3: Gown (If used)
Untie the gown at both the waist and the neck. Pull the gown away from the body, turning it inside out. Roll into a bunch and discard safely in a trash can or waste container.
Step 4: Hand Hygiene
Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel to clean your hands.
Step 5: Face Mask – Respirator or 3-Ply
Avoid touching the front, exposed part of the mask. Remove both ear loops, touching this part of the mask only. Safely dispose of the mask in a trash can or waste container.
Step 6: Hand Hygiene
Once again, wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel to clean your hands.
Safe Practices While Wearing PPE
To protect yourself and effectively limit the spread of COVID-19, employ safe practices while wearing PPE.
While wearing PPE, try to limit the number of surfaces you touch, always keep your hands away from your face, perform regular hand hygiene, and ensure gloves are changed frequently.
For more information on PPE for droplet precautions, read our previous blog post: What PPE is Required For Droplet Precautions.
Cover photo by ready made from Pexels.