Covid-19: Taking off personal protective equipment (PPE)

By Josh Jezard

Covid-19: Taking off personal protective equipment (PPE)

Many of our agency nurses have come to us regarding the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) whilst on shift, more specifically the putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) of PPE. The correct application and removal of PPE is critical at this time for agency nurses to help protect the wearer, prevent the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives.

The following guidance has come from Public Health England who have provided a number of extremely useful and informative guides on the use of personal protective equipment for aerosol generating procedures, please consult these guides and make yourself familiar with the procedures.

This two-minute blog aims to cover the correct order and removal of PPE safely.

Pre-doffing Instructions

This process should be carried out in a systematic way before leaving a patient's room. You MUST NOT remove your respirator until you are outside the patients room. Ideally the doffing process should be supervised by a buddy at a distance of at least two metres, this is to reduce the risk of the healthcare worker removing PPE and contaminating themselves during removal. The buddy should be trained and competent in the use of PPE and can assist with removing the PPE. Your respirator should be removed once you are in the anteroom/lobby. If you don't have a anteroom/lobby remove respirator in a safe area.

All PPE must be disposed of as healthcare waste.

Step One - Gloves

REMEMBER - The outside of the gloves are contaminated.

Nurse removing protective gloves

1. Hold the outside of the glove with the opposite gloved hand and peel it off

2. Hold the removed glove in the gloved hand

nurse removing protective gloves

3. Slide the fingers of the un-gloved hand under the remaining glove at the wrist

4. Peel the remaining glove off over the first glove and discard in a clinical waste bin

nurse washing hands

5. Clean your hands with alcohol gel

Step Two - Gown

REMEMBER - The front of the gown and the sleeves will be contaminated.

nurse doffing long sleeve protective gown

1. Unfasten the neck tie

2. Unfasten the waist ties

nurse removing long sleeve protective gownn

3. Pull gown away from the neck and shoulders, touching the inside of the gown only using a peeling motion as the outside of the gown will be contaminated

Nurse disposing of used long sleeved protective medical gown

4. Turn the gown inside out, roll into a bundle and discard into a clinical waste in

Step Three - Eye Protection

REMEMBER - The outside will be contaminated.

Nurse removing protective eye equipment
  1. Whilst standing up straight, use both hands to handle the retaining straps by pulling away from behind

  2. Discard eye protection in a clinical waste bin

  3. Leave the patients room

  4. Wash hands and wrists with alcohol hand rub

Step Four - Respirator

REMEMBER - In the absence of an anteroom/lobby remove respirators in a safe area.

Nurse removing protective respirator


  1. Lean forward slightly

  2. With both hands find the bottom retaining strap at the back of the head and bring it up to the top strap

  3. Lift both straps over the top of the head

  4. Let the respirator fall away from your face

  5. Place in clinical waste bin

Step Four - Wash Your Hands

nurse washing hands

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

For a complete visual demonstration of donning PPE, Public Health England have produced a handy video which can be found here. We've also sourced the government's advice for donning PPE and complied it into a blog for our agency nurses which can be found here.

Whether you’re a Healthcare Assistant, Registered General Nurse or an Emergency Nurse Practitioner if you’re interested in working through the UK’s premium nursing agency as an agency nurse register today.

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