Just yesterday I had a pat down from a TSA Officer because they detected some sort of substance in my carry-on bag. As a result I needed to be patted down and it was a more thorough pat down than I've ever experienced. Before the pat down he explained the rules and procedure to me. Then after the pat down he said that he'll need to swab the gloves he had on to make sure there was no illegal substance on them. Of course there wasn't - but it got me thinking. I did not see him put on gloves with my own eyes, therefore the gloves could have been contaminated with something not from me. If selected for a pat down in the future, can I ask the TSA officer to put on a fresh pair of gloves with me watching him/her put them on?

  • Had the gloves been contaminated from before it would mean the previous guy had something and got caught and then the same gloves wouldn't ve been there for you. Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 18:40
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    @HankyPanky I'm not sure of the safety procedures and steps, but isn't it possible that an officer was extremely busy and had to pat down multiple people in a row and forgets to put on new gloves?
    – Michael
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 18:41
  • If he swabbed them after using them for you there is no reason to assume he didn't do it for every pat down. In fact I don't even ve reasons to believe they use same set of gloves for multiple people in such a sensitive environment Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 18:44
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    @HankyPanky No, the screener could have handled a contaminated but untested item previously. Unfortunately, screeners will wear the same gloves for many, many resolution Pat Downs.
    – DTRT
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 18:47
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    Is a glove patdown conclusive or would they need to do further search? If so, a contaminated search isn't even in their own best interests as it will waste their time on an empty search. One problem with searching an innocent is while you are doing that, guilties are slipping by. Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 21:10

1 Answer 1


YES. 100%.

I always request clean gloves before they touch me or any of my possessions and they have to accommodate you.*

Everyone should request clean gloves every time to prevent any cross contamination. Current procedures are a huge pathogen vector as well.

*For clarity, I've never seen this documented, but various screeners have told me as much.

  • I agree completely with this answer. But I personally would prefer to ask the officer for new gloves because of hygenic reasons, instead of cross-contamination. Bringing up contamination can lead to further questions or more swaps. Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 12:49

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