Why Do They Put Gloves on the Dead? Unraveling the Mystery Behind This Funeral Tradition

For many of us, death is a topic that we’d rather not think about. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable discussing what happens after we die, but sometimes, learning about these things can help us come to terms with our own mortality. One aspect of death that is shrouded in mystery is the practice of putting gloves on the deceased. You may have seen this done in movies, or heard about it from someone who has attended a funeral. But have you ever stopped to think, why do they put gloves on the dead?

Turns out, there are actually several reasons for this practice. Firstly, it’s a way to show respect for the deceased. When a person dies, their body becomes vulnerable and fragile. By putting gloves on the deceased, funeral directors and morticians help to protect the body from damage. Additionally, gloves are often used to cover up any imperfections or marks on the hands. This is especially important if an open-casket funeral is planned.

Another reason for using gloves is for hygiene purposes. When a person dies, the body immediately begins to decompose. This process can be messy, and sometimes there may be bodily fluids or other substances that can pose a health risk. By wearing gloves, funeral directors can protect themselves from coming into contact with these fluids, which is especially important when preparing the body for viewing. Additionally, gloves are often worn when handling deceased bodies to prevent cross-contamination between different individuals.

The History and Cultural Significance of Putting Gloves on the Dead

For centuries, cultures around the world have followed specific mourning rituals when someone passes away. One of these rituals is the placing of gloves on the deceased’s hands. The practice has a rich history and cultural significance that has evolved over time.

Here are a few theories about the origins of this tradition:

  • Gloves may have been used in the past to cover the smell from decaying bodies before modern embalming techniques were developed.
  • Gloves symbolize the last “gift” the living can give to the dead.
  • In some cultures, gloves are seen as a sign of respect reserved for those who have held an important societal position, such as royalty or religious leaders.

The practice of placing gloves on the dead is also steeped in cultural significance:

  • In Christianity, gloves are a sign of purity and innocence, symbolizing that the deceased’s soul is free from sin.
  • In Judaism, it is a tradition to bury someone with the same clothes they wore in life. Gloves are included in this dress, as a sign of respect for the deceased’s body.
  • In some parts of Asia, gloves are seen as a representation of wealth and status, and may be given to the deceased as a way to show respect for their achievements.

While modern embalming techniques have largely eliminated the need for gloves to mask odors, the tradition has continued as a way to honor the deceased and express respect for their life. Different cultures have their variations of this ritual based on their beliefs and traditions.

The practical reasons for putting gloves on the dead

When preparing a dead body for burial or cremation, one of the common practices is putting gloves on the hands. Some people may wonder why this is necessary or what purposes it serves. In this article, we’ll explore the practical reasons for putting gloves on the dead and its significance.

  • Hygiene: Putting gloves on the dead maintains hygiene levels when handling the body. It helps to prevent cross-contamination of bodily fluids such as blood, urine, and feces. This is particularly important when handling a body that has infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis, or COVID-19. The gloves also protect the embalmer or mortician from getting exposed to toxins or chemicals used during the preparation process.
  • Dress code: Dressing up the body is an essential part of the funeral service. Putting gloves on the dead maintains the dress code by ensuring that the deceased looks presentable and well-put. Gloves give the appearance of elegance and sophistication, and they help to conceal any bruising, marks, or injury on the hands. It’s a sign of respect for the deceased and their family, as it showcases that their loved one is dignified and well taken care of.
  • Religious or cultural significance: Some cultures or religions may require specific rituals or traditions to be carried out when preparing the body for burial or cremation. In some cases, gloves may be necessary for these customs to be performed. For example, in some Jewish traditions, the deceased is prepared by a Chevra Kadisha, a group of people who specialize in washing and dressing the body. They wear gloves while performing the purification process to maintain a particular level of cleanliness and purity.

Overall, putting gloves on the dead serves several practical purposes, including maintaining hygiene levels, preserving the appearance of the body, and fulfilling religious or cultural traditions. It’s an essential part of the funeral service, and a meaningful way of showing respect and care for the deceased and their family.

Next, we’ll look at the different types of gloves used when handling a dead body.

The types of gloves used to handle a dead body

When handling a dead body, it’s crucial to use the right type of glove to avoid risks of contamination and infection. Using the wrong type of glove can compromise the safety of the embalmer, mortician or funeral director. The most commonly used gloves when handling the dead include:

Glove type Description Usage
Latex gloves Made from rubber latex, these gloves are stretchy and comfortable to wear. They have excellent tactile sensitivity, making them ideal for handling fine details on the body, such as jewelry or makeup application. They are best used when the deceased doesn’t have any allergies to latex, and there are no infectious diseases present. In cases where the deceased is known to have an allergy, other alternatives such as nitrile or vinyl gloves can be used.
Nitrile gloves These gloves are made from synthetic rubber, making them excellent for people with allergies to latex. They have excellent chemical resistance and provide adequate protection against harmful substances used during the embalming process. They are best used when handling infectious diseases, chemicals, or toxins that may pose a risk to the handler.
Vinyl gloves These are made from polyvinyl chloride and are a cheaper alternative to latex and nitrile gloves. They are also an excellent option for people with latex allergies. Vinyl gloves have a loose-fitting, making them easier to put on and take off. They are best suited for handling non-toxic substances such as cosmetics, dressings, and bandages.

By using the appropriate gloves, we can ensure that the body preparation process is safe and hygienic for everyone involved.

The types of gloves used for the deceased

When a person passes away, they are typically dressed in their finest attire and prepared for their final resting place. As part of this preparation, gloves are often put on the deceased. The gloves serve not only a practical function but also a symbolic one, as they represent respect and dignity for the deceased. Here are the types of gloves used for the deceased:

  • Latex gloves – These gloves are the most commonly used for preparing the body of the deceased. They are disposable and provide ample protection from fluids and embalming chemicals. Latex gloves are also easy to remove and dispose of, which is important for hygiene purposes.
  • Medical examination gloves – These gloves are made of nitrile, a synthetic rubber that is good at resisting punctures, cuts, and chemicals. They are also powder-free, so there’s no risk of the powder contaminating the corpse. Medical examination gloves can be used during the embalming process or when handling the body after it has been washed and dressed.
  • Cotton gloves – These gloves are made of cotton and are used primarily for cosmetic purposes. They are gentle on the skin and help prevent scratches and abrasions to the corpse’s face and hands. Cotton gloves are often used in conjunction with cosmetic products to enhance the deceased’s appearance for the final viewing before the funeral.

It’s important to note that not all gloves are appropriate for use on a deceased person. Gloves made of materials like leather or other animal skins can react with the embalming chemicals and cause damage to the skin. Additionally, gloves made of latex or nitrile can cause allergic reactions in some people, so it’s necessary to use caution when selecting gloves for the deceased.

In conclusion, gloves play a crucial role in preparing the deceased for their final resting place. They not only serve a practical function but also symbolize respect and dignity for the deceased. By understanding the types of gloves used for the deceased, funeral directors, embalmers, and other professionals who work with the deceased can ensure that their services are performed with the utmost care and professionalism.

The materials used to make gloves for the deceased

When someone passes away, it’s common for morticians to dress them in formal wear, which includes gloves. The gloves serve two purposes: to provide a dignified appearance and to protect the deceased’s hands from decomposition fluids.

  • Nitrile: These gloves are made from a synthetic rubber material that is resistant to tears and punctures. They are often used because they are hypoallergenic and don’t cause skin irritation, which is important for the deceased who are typically kept in gloves longer than normal wearers.
  • Latex: Latex gloves are another option, but due to its potential allergenic effects, this material is not recommended for those who have a history of latex sensitivity.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl gloves serve as an inexpensive alternative to nitrile or latex gloves. Unlike nitrile, vinyl gloves are not tear or puncture-resistant, but serve the purpose of protecting the hands from potential bacteria and other fluids during the funeral process.

In addition to the material choices, gloves also come in different sizes to ensure a comfortable and snug fit on the deceased’s hands. Morticians are trained to carefully select the correct size and material to provide both protection and an appropriate, respectful appearance.

Morticians may also opt for gloves that match the color of the deceased’s attire. For example, if the deceased is wearing a white suit, the mortician will use white gloves to complete the look.

Material Pros Cons
Nitrile Resistant to tears and punctures, Hypoallergenic, Long shelf life More expensive than vinyl, Non-biodegradable
Latex Good tactile sensitivity, Biodegradable, Affordable Not suitable for latex-sensitive individuals, Tear easily
Vinyl Chemical resistant, Affordable, Comfortable fit Not tear-resistant, Poor tactile sensitivity, Not biodegradable

In conclusion, the materials used for gloves for the deceased are carefully chosen for their protective and aesthetic qualities. Nitrile, latex and vinyl are the most common materials used, each with their own respective benefits and drawbacks. At the end of the day, it is important for morticians to select the appropriate type of gloves with respect and care, ensuring a comfortable, dignified appearance for the deceased.

The variations in customs for gloves on the dead across cultures and religions

Funeral customs and rituals are diverse and varied across different cultures and religions. One such ritual that has been widely observed is the practice of putting gloves on the hands of the deceased before burying or cremating them. The purpose and significance of this practice, however, differ from one culture to another. Here are some of the variations in customs for gloves on the dead across cultures and religions.

Variations in Customs for Gloves on the Dead

  • Christianity: In some Christian traditions, gloves are put on the hands of the deceased as a sign of respect. It symbolizes the dead’s purity and his/her readiness to face God on Judgment Day. In other traditions, gloves are placed on the hands of the dead to prevent people from touching them and spreading diseases.
  • Islam: Gloves, along with socks and other clothing items, are put on the deceased as part of ritual washing or ghusl. Ghusl is a mandatory purification process that Muslims perform on a deceased body before its burial. The ritual washing is done with utmost respect and purity, and the gloves avoid direct skin contact with the washer’s hands.
  • Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches: In the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, gloves are not used during the funeral service. Instead, it is customary for the deceased to be clothed in a complete set of clothes, including gloves, socks, and shoes, as a symbol of the journey into eternal life.

The history behind the use of gloves on the dead

The history of using gloves on the dead dates back to ancient times. Egyptians, for instance, were known to wrap the mummies with strips of cloth, including gloves, to protect the body from deteriorating and ensure that it was well-protected in the afterlife. The Greeks used to put single gloves on the hands of the deceased and portray them in a peaceful and serene manner in a vase painting.

The significance of gloves in different cultures

The use of gloves on the dead signifies reverence, respect, and purity across cultures and religions. It is a final act of providing dignity and honor to the deceased, who is about to embark on a new journey. It is a reminder of the value of human life and the respect that should be shown to every person, even in death.

Gloves on the dead: A symbol that continues to evolve

Culture/Religion Tradition
Victorian Era Gloves were put on the hands of the deceased as part of a mourning costume. It was a symbol of social etiquette and an expression of respect for the deceased.
Japanese culture Funeral gloves are used in Japan to signify a sign of respect during the mourning period. It is customary for the family to receive white cotton gloves from the funeral director to wear as a symbol of respect during the ceremony.
Military funerals Gloves are used as a symbol of honor in military funerals. The gloves are put on the casket during the procession, or the pallbearers wear them as a symbol of unity and respect for the deceased.

The practice of putting gloves on the hands of the deceased continues to evolve and vary across cultures and religions worldwide. However, the underlying message remains the same: to provide dignity, respect, and purity to the deceased.

The Symbolism Behind Gloves on the Dead

Have you ever wondered why people put gloves on the dead? It may seem like a small detail, but it actually carries quite a bit of symbolism.

Here are some possible reasons:

Symbolism of the Number 6

  • The number 6 is often associated with harmony, balance, and stability.
  • In many cultures, it is also considered a sacred or divine number, representing perfection or completion.
  • When gloves are put on the dead, they are often arranged in sets of 6 (3 pairs).
  • This may symbolize the idea of the deceased achieving a state of balance or completion in death.

Cultural and Religious Significance

In some religions and cultural traditions, gloves may also represent protection and purity.

In the Catholic Church, for example, gloves have historically been worn by bishops and cardinals as a symbol of their office and authority. This may have carried over to the practice of putting gloves on the dead as a way of acknowledging their status or position in life.

Similarly, in some Islamic cultures, gloves are considered a symbol of respect and formality. They may be used in funeral rites as a way of showing reverence and honor to the deceased.

Practical Reasons

Of course, there may also be practical reasons for putting gloves on the dead.

For one, it can help to prevent the spread of disease or illness during the handling of the body. Gloves may also help to protect the skin of the deceased from damage or abrasion during the embalming or preparation process.

Additionally, gloves may simply be seen as a way to treat the deceased with care and dignity, protecting their body from unnecessary handling or exposure.

Overall, the symbolism behind gloves on the dead may vary depending on the cultural or religious context, as well as the practical considerations involved. However, in many cases, it can be seen as a way of showing respect, protection, and balance in death.

Whether you personally believe in these customs or not, it’s worth recognizing the thought and tradition that can go into even the smallest details of a funeral or memorial service.

The connection between gloves on the dead and funerary traditions

Funeral customs vary widely across cultures, religions, and time periods. One relatively common tradition, however, is the practice of putting gloves on the dead. Historically, gloves on the deceased served both symbolic and practical purposes, often reflecting the social status and personal beliefs of the deceased and their loved ones.

  • Symbolism: Gloves have long been associated with dignity, respect, and honor. Placing gloves on a deceased person’s hands was a way to show reverence for the dead and remind mourners of the high regard in which the deceased was held. In some cultures, gloves were also seen as a sign of protection, guarding the soul of the dead as it made its way to the afterlife.
  • Practicality: Prior to the advent of modern embalming techniques, a deceased person’s hands were often left unwrapped, leading to noticeable discoloration and swelling. Gloves could be used to conceal these unappealing physical changes and enhance the presentation of the body during funeral services. Additionally, gloves were sometimes used to protect the hands of the deceased, particularly in cases where the person died from a contagious disease.
  • Tradition: In certain cultures and time periods, gloves on the dead were simply considered a customary element of funeral preparations. In Victorian England, for example, it was considered disrespectful not to have gloves on the deceased. Similarly, in certain Native American tribes, gloves were a traditional component of a person’s ceremonial dress and were included in burial preparations as a sign of respect.

While the practice of putting gloves on the deceased has faded in some cultures and is no longer considered essential in many modern funeral traditions, it remains an important aspect of funerary history and represents the timeless connection between the dead, the living, and the customs that bind them together.

The psychological impact on bereaved loved ones with gloves on the deceased

When a loved one dies, it is a traumatic experience for anyone. The grieving process is different for each individual, and it can last for an extended period. The sight of the deceased can be overwhelming, and adding gloves to the mix can amplify the impact.

The psychological impact that gloves have on bereaved loved ones can be significant. Here are some ways that gloves can affect individuals who are grieving:

  • Distancing effect: Gloves can create a physical barrier between the loved one and the bereaved, making the experience seem less real and more detached. This can lead to an additional layer of shock, denial, and disbelief.
  • Dehumanization: Gloves can also make the deceased seem less human, which can be distressing for close family and friends. The body may appear more like an object than a person, leading to feelings of desensitization and emotional detachment.
  • Guilt: Seeing gloves on a loved one can also cause feelings of guilt and regret. The bereaved may feel like they didn’t do enough to protect their loved one, or they may feel like they should have taken better care of them.

To better understand the impact of gloves on bereaved loved ones, let’s take a closer look at the two primary factors: distancing effect and dehumanization.

Distancing Effect

The distancing effect of gloves on the deceased can make the experience of death feel detached and surreal. The gloves act as a physical reminder that the loved one is gone, which can exacerbate the sense of loss.

In some cases, the sight of gloves can even cause the bereaved to feel like they are not allowed to touch or hold their loved one, creating an additional layer of grief and loss.


The dehumanization of the deceased caused by gloves is a more complex issue. This psychological effect can create a sense of detachment and emotional numbness that may make it harder for people to grieve.

When the body appears more like an object than a person, it can create a sense of disbelief and denial, leading to a prolonged grieving process. Grief can be a complicated and multifaceted experience, and even small details like gloves can have a significant impact.


Overall, gloves on the deceased can have a profound psychological impact on bereaved loved ones. It can create a sense of detachment, dehumanization, and guilt that can prolong the grieving process. It is important to be sensitive to the needs and emotions of those who are grieving and to provide support and understanding during this difficult time.

Pros Cons
Prevents cross-contamination Can cause emotional distress for the bereaved
Protects the mortician from bodily fluids and infectious diseases Can make the deceased seem less human
Professional appearance May interfere with the grieving process

While gloves are essential for protecting the mortician and preventing cross-contamination, it’s important to consider the emotional impact they can have on bereaved loved ones. By understanding the ways in which gloves can affect individuals who are grieving, it’s possible to provide more support and compassion during this difficult time.

The Etiquette Surrounding Glove Placement on the Deceased

When preparing a body for a funeral or burial, it is common for the deceased to be dressed in a suit or other formal attire, including gloves. But why do they put gloves on the dead? The practice of placing gloves on the hands of the deceased has been a tradition in many cultures for centuries. It is believed that wearing gloves symbolizes respect, formality, and elegance, and it is done as a sign of the deceased’s social status or significance during their lifetime.

Reasons for Placing Gloves on the Dead

  • The tradition of wearing gloves dates back to the medieval era, where knights wore gloves as a symbol of their status and chivalric code. Placing gloves on the dead is a way of showing a similar level of respect and honor.
  • In some cultures, gloves are considered a protective barrier between the living and the dead, and placing them on the deceased is believed to prevent any negative energy or spirits from leaving or entering the body.
  • In the case of high-profile or notable individuals, gloves are often placed on the hands to signify their importance and status, such as political dignitaries or members of the royal family.

Placement of Gloves on the Deceased

When placing gloves on the hands of the deceased, there are certain etiquette guidelines to follow. The gloves should be sized and styled appropriately to match the individual’s outfit, and they should be placed with care and precision. Typically, the right glove is placed over the left, with the cuff facing upwards towards the individual’s face. The gloves should be secured in place with tape or pins, and the hands should be crossed over the abdomen or placed in another respectful position.


The tradition of placing gloves on the deceased remains a common practice in many cultures worldwide. While the reasons for doing so may vary, the act of wearing gloves is seen as a sign of respect and honor for the deceased. By following proper etiquette guidelines, funeral directors and families can ensure that the gloves are placed with the utmost care and dignity, honoring the memory of the individual who has passed.

Pros Cons
Symbolizes respect, formality, and elegance Can be seen as an unnecessary expense
Protective barrier between the living and the dead May not be relevant or appropriate for all individuals or cultures
Signifies importance and status Not a widely accepted practice in some cultures or religions

As with any cultural or religious tradition, the placement of gloves on the deceased may not be appropriate or relevant for all individuals. It is essential to respect the beliefs and wishes of the deceased and their family when making decisions regarding funeral and burial arrangements.

The potential controversies and debates surrounding gloves on the dead in a modern, secular context.

While gloves on the dead may seem like a simple matter of hygiene or respect for the deceased, there are actually a variety of controversies and debates surrounding this practice in a modern, secular context.

  • Religious beliefs: In some religions, gloves are seen as unnecessary or even disrespectful to the deceased. For example, in Jewish tradition, the deceased are handled only by individuals who have been trained in the proper rituals, and no gloves are used. Similarly, some Muslim communities believe that the deceased should be washed and handled with bare hands.
  • Medical necessity: In cases where the deceased has a contagious disease, gloves may be necessary for the safety of those handling the body. However, there is debate around the extent to which gloves are necessary for preventing the spread of disease, as some experts argue that the risk of transmission is low.
  • Cultural norms: In some cultures, gloves are seen as a symbol of respect for the deceased, while in others, they are seen as distancing or impersonal. There may be debates within a family or community around whether gloves are appropriate or necessary.

It is also worth noting that gloves on the dead can have different implications depending on the context. For example, in a hospital or funeral home setting, gloves may be seen as a matter of professionalism and hygiene. However, in a more personal or intimate setting, such as a family member handling the body of a loved one, gloves may be seen as a barrier to connection and emotional processing.

Ultimately, the decision to use gloves on the dead is a complex one that involves a variety of factors, including cultural norms, personal beliefs, and medical concerns. While the debates may continue, it is important to approach the issue with empathy and respect for the deceased and those who care for them.

Pros Cons
May provide protection against the spread of disease Can create a barrier between the deceased and those handling them
May be seen as a symbol of professionalism and respect in certain settings May be seen as unnecessary or even disrespectful in some cultural or religious contexts
May be necessary for legal or medical reasons May be seen as impersonal or distancing in more personal or intimate settings

As with any controversial issue, there are valid arguments on both sides of the gloves on the dead debate. Ultimately, the decision to use gloves should be made with careful consideration for all relevant factors, and with the goal of treating the deceased and those who care for them with dignity and respect.

FAQs – Why Do They Put Gloves on the Dead?

1. Why do they put gloves on the dead?

Putting gloves on the dead is usually done to maintain the dignity of the person who has passed away. Gloves help to cover any bruises, cuts or marks on the hands, and also make the hands look more peaceful.

2. Is it mandatory to put gloves on the dead?

No, it is not mandatory to put gloves on the dead, but it is a common practice in many cultures and societies. It is ultimately the family’s decision how they want their loved one to be presented, including whether or not to use gloves.

3. What type of gloves are used for the deceased?

Disposable latex gloves are commonly used for the deceased, as they are sterile and provide a snug fit. However, families can choose any type of gloves they prefer, including cotton, leather, or silk.

4. Do gloves prevent decomposition of the body?

No, gloves do not prevent decomposition of the body. They are simply used for aesthetic purposes, to make the hands look more presentable.

5. Why are gloves sometimes only put on one hand?

Gloves are usually put on both hands of the deceased, but in some cases, only one hand may be covered. This could be because the other hand is holding a personal belonging, or because the family has a particular preference.

6. Are gloves used during embalming?

Yes, gloves are worn by the embalmer during the embalming process to protect them from any bodily fluids. The deceased is also often dressed in clothes and may have gloves put on afterwards for presentation.

7. Is there a religious significance to putting gloves on the dead?

In some religious traditions, such as Islam and Judaism, gloves are not used when preparing the body for burial. However, in many other cultures and religions, gloves are used as a sign of respect for the deceased.

Closing Title: Thanks for Reading!

We hope this article has provided you with some insight into the question of why do they put gloves on the dead. The practice may seem simple, but it holds significant importance for many families and cultures. If you have any further questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thanks for reading, and visit again soon for more informative articles.