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Latex vs Nitrile vs Vinyl Gloves…Which to Choose?

Disposable medical exam gloves

Updated: June 9, 2021

No disposable protective glove offers the exact same level of protection.

In this dangerous public health age when superb hand hygiene and protection is essential, healthcare, industrial and food service workers can’t trust their hands and patients’ and customers’ health to just any disposable glove. All workers, no matter their industry or working environment, need reliable gloves to protect patients, customers, coworkers and guests from exposure to potentially dangerous microbes, including arguably the most dangerous virus on the planet: Novel Coronavirus.

When deciding between latex, nitrile and vinyl gloves … it can be a little confusing trying to determine which type of glove is the ideal and best choice for your hands, health and safety. Let’s take an up-close look at the attributes and benefits of each type of glove.

Latex Gloves

Latex Gloves

A long-time trusted go-to protective glove of the medical industry, Latex gloves are natural material, made out of rubber. The primary reason people choose alternates to latex is because many people suffer from latex allergies. When allergy is not a concern, latex does have a slight advantage with comfort and dexterity over nitrile gloves.

Strengths include:

  • Fit comfortably like a second skin
  • Have a high level of touch sensitivity
  • Are good for wearing for an extended amount of time
  • Work well for high-risk situations involving infectious material
  • Are very cost-effective
  • Are lightly powdered, making it easier to put on
  • Are very elastic and strong
  • Are biodegradable
  • Strong dexterity

Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile Gloves

Constructed from a synthetic rubber, Nitrile gloves are an ideal option where latex allegories are a concern. Known as “medical grade” gloves, Nitrile gloves are the unquestioned superior glove when it comes to puncture resistance. Before gloves can be marketed to hospitals and medical institutions, they must undergo a series of tests conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure their durability.

Features include:

  • Latex-free
  • Perfectly suited for most medical environments
  • Are exceptionally puncture resistant
  • Have a high level of sensitivity
  • Mold to your hand for a great fit
  • Are good for wearing an extended amount of time
  • Ideal choice for high-risk situations involving infectious material, hazardous and corrosive chemicals
  • Boast a long shelf life
  • Are available in blue or black to help identify if the glove has been punctured
  • Are also available in biodegradable styles

Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves are a popular choice for the food industry and situations where high levels of durability and protection are less of a priority. Vinyl gloves are composed of PVC, a petroleum-based film. While they may be less durable, they are the less expensive option. Vinyl gloves’ main weaknesses are that they can be easily structurally compromised or torn when stretched and have a negative environmental impact.

Features include:

  • Latex-free
  • Have a looser fit
  • Are good for short-term, low-risk tasks
  • Most economic option
  • Have anti-static properties
  • Are best for use with non-hazardous materials
  • Are lightly powdered to make it easier to put on

As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, make certain you stay on guard. Make sure the protective glove you pick is the right fit and match for the work you do and the offers the level of protection you need for yourself and the people, patients and customers you work with, help and serve.

photo credit: Flооd

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