Latex, Nitrile or Vinyl? How to Choose the Best Disposable Gloves for Your Application or Industry!

Latex, Nitrile or Vinyl? How to Choose the Best Disposable Gloves for Your Application or Industry!

You’re about to learn some simple tips to make choosing the correct disposable gloves for the most common industries and applications quick and easy.

Though there are hundreds of glove brands, ranges and grades to choose from, finding the right gloves to protect your hands will depend upon what you need them for and which product provides the best balance of protection, durability and comfort.

CHOOSING DISPOSABLE GLOVES BY INDUSTRY OR APPLICATION

cleaner removing gloves

FOR CLEANING

Cleaning tasks typically demand a level of chemical protection against bleaches and detergents combined with comfort and durability against friction wear.

For short term domestic cleaning, quality latex gloves are a cheaper option where allergies to latex rubber aren’t an issue.

For industrial cleaning applications, disposable nitrile gloves with a longer cuff that conforms to standards EN420, EN374 and EN388 plus have an AQL quality score of 1.5 are the best choice as they offer superior protection against stronger chemicals or cleaning agents.

Preparing food with rubber gloves

FOR FOOD PREPARATION

The priority when choosing Food handling gloves is the prevention of food contamination so durability and tear puncture resistance is important. Food gloves should also be powder free and classified as “Food Safe” by the manufacturer plus confirm to standards 1935/2004/EC, 2007/19/EC or 2008/39/EC and have an AQL quality score of 1.5.

Obviously budget plays a part in glove choice and vinyl gloves can provide basic protection for the lowest cost. Latex gloves are not advisable for food handling as latex protein allergens can migrate into foodstuffs.

Possibly the best food handling gloves for most applications would be nitrile as they offer superior strength, durability and protection whilst still being comfortable to wear.

Gardening with gloves

FOR GARDENING

For most gardening tasks strength, durability and comfort will be the most important factors with a low level of chemical protection required for some gardeners.

Where allergies are not a factor, latex gloves can offer comfortable protection against wear and tear with a low level of chemical resistance.

If you’re looking for greater durability and chemical resistance, nitrile gloves are the ideal solution.

Mechanic polishing car wearing gloves

FOR MECHANICS

As a mechanic, you need to protect your hands from dirt, grease and oil whilst maintaining good durability, grip and touch sensitivity over a number of hours. This combination of needs makes nitrile gloves particularly suited to the automotive industry.

Due to the amount of friction and tensile stress, mechanics gloves will experience, heavy duty nitrile gloves with a textured surface are recommended.

Medic holding scissors with gloved hand

FOR MEDICAL USE

Commonly used for medical examinations, medical grade disposable gloves are used to prevent cross-contamination between practitioners and patients.

Due to the need to prevent allergies, medical grade nitrile gloves are the preferred option over latex and provide superior resistance to chemicals, tearing and punctures which can be particularly important when working with instruments.

For non-sterile gloves to be certified as ‘Medical grade’, they must conform to EN455 which tests for water tightness, physical dimensions, strength and presence of any latex proteins.

Quality medical-grade gloves will typically have an AQL quality rating of 1.5 or lower to minimise the risk of punctures.

CHOOSING DISPOSABLE GLOVES BY TYPE

NITRILE GLOVES

Nitrile is a synthetic rubber used to make nitrile gloves and is a superior material to latex and vinyl if you require a disposable glove for demanding applications where protection from harmful substances or durability is important. For example, nitrile disposable gloves are up to 3 times more puncture resistant than latex gloves.

These advantages plus being latex allergen free makes nitrile the glove of choice in applications such as automotive, engineering and medical industries.

The main downsides to nitrile gloves are that they are more expensive than latex or vinyl alternatives and aren’t as environmentally friendly as natural latex rubber.

Pros

  • Better chemical resistance than latex or vinyl
  • Better puncture and tear resistance than latex or vinyl
  • Strength and Durability
  • For people with latex allergies
  • Comfortable fit that adapts to the hand
  • Dexterity and touch sensitivity
  • Available in colour coded options

Cons

  • Not generally biodegradable although some specialist manufacturers now supply biodegradable versions
  • Difficult to recycle
  • More expensive than latex or vinyl

Our Nitrile Glove Recommendations

BUDGET OPTION

Supertouch Blue Nitrile Gloves

Supertouch Blue Powder Free Nitrile Gloves

When your application or industry requires disposable hand protection with strength and dexterity, Supertouch powder free nitrile gloves are a good option.

Whilst being latex and powder free, their durable construction and textured feel makes them very versatile gloves suited to most tasks.

PREMIUM OPTION

Unigloves Protect Black Nitrile Gloves

Unigloves Protect Black Nitrile Gloves

Unigloves ProTect are a heavier weight, tough and durable alternative to latex or vinyl that feels comfortable and flexible on the hands, offering a high degree of dexterity.

This heavier nitrile weight also provides a high level of resistance to hydrocarbons which are found in antifreeze, paint and thinners, petrol, oils and many other products associated with the commercial and automotive industries.

LATEX GLOVES

Latex disposable gloves are made from natural latex rubber which is harvested from trees. The main benefits of latex gloves are derived from it’s natural strength and flexibility giving the wearer a comfortable fit with fine dexterity and touch sensitivity.

The primary drawback of latex is that certain proteins in the rubber can trigger skin allergies in approximately 1-6% of the UK population according to the Health and Safety Executive. This is a particular concern in applications requiring the wearer to come into contact with the public such as medical, healthcare and tattoo industries. For this reason, Nitrile has made significant inroads into the disposable glove market as it meets or exceeds many of the benefits of latex without the allergen risk.

Pros

  • Very flexible and strong with good tear resistance
  • Latex gloves are generally thin and stretchy so naturally more comfortable to wear
  • Being thin, latex is good for dexterity and touch sensitivity
  • On average about 20% cheaper than nitrile
  • More environmentally friendly being made from biodegradable natural rubber

Cons

  • Potential allergies from latex rubber
  • Lower puncture and tear resistance than nitrile
  • Lower chemical resistance than nitrile

Our Latex Glove Recommendations

BUDGET OPTION

Latex Gloves

Supertouch Powdered Latex Gloves

These economical gloves from Supertouch are a good strong option for non-medical applications and come powdered with corn starch for easier donning and removal.

They have an AQL 4.0 quality rating and conform to EN 455 parts 1-4.

PREMIUM OPTION

Unigloves Protect HD Latex Gloves Box

Unigloves ProTect Latex HD

ProTect Latex HD is an ultra heavy weight, tough and durable powder free latex glove with and extended (300 mm) cuff, that feels comfortable and flexible on the hands.

These powder free gloves offer a high degree of performance for applications hwre comfort and dexterity are a priority.

VINYL GLOVES

Vinyl gloves offer a basic level of hand protection for applications and environments where resistance to harmful substances and long term wear aren’t a concern. For these reasons, Vinyl is most commonly used for disposable gloves in food industries and offers a cheaper alternative to latex or nitrile.

Pros

  • Cheap cost
  • Latex free

Cons

  • Inferior dexterity and touch sensitivity
  • Offer less puncture resistance than latex or nitrile gloves
  • Poor resistance to chemicals

Our Vinyl Glove Recommendation

Supertouch Vinyl Gloves

Supertouch Vinyl Gloves

Made from high grade Polyvinyl Chloride, these Vinyl Gloves are medical grade quality with an AQL rating of 1.5.

They are both powder free, latex free and ideal for clinical, automotive and food handling use.

WHAT MAKES QUALITY DISPOSABLE GLOVES?

Where protection against harmful substances is a priority you might assume that glove thickness would be the most obvious indicator of quality.

In reality, the disposable glove industry uses a different and more reliable quality assurance standard called Acceptable Quality Level (AQL). This is a percentage measurement indicating the statistical probability of a batch of gloves having pinhole defects and ranges from 0.65 for gloves used in more demanding environments to 4.0 where risks and hand protection requirements are much lower.

INTERNATIONAL GLOVE STANDARDS

Another reliable indicator of glove quality and suitability for certain applications is conformity with international standards.

These standards set minimum performance levels for disposable gloves that are to be used for various industries and applications. In Europe, laboratory and industrial gloves are classified under the Council Directive 89/656/EEC and medical grade gloves under Council Directive 93/42/EEC.

Food Preparation

For disposable gloves to be considered suitable for food preparation applications they are tested against 1935/2004/EC, 2007/19/EC and 2008/39/EC. These tests focus on any chemicals that could find there way into food.  Gloves that meet these standards will be classified as “Food Safe” by the manufacturer.

Laboratory and Industrial Glove Standards

For disposable gloves to be considered suitable for laboratory, industrial or pharmaceutical applications, they must meet the standards of a ‘Simple Design’ (Category 1 – low risk) or ‘Complex Design’ (Category 3 – high risk). There is a Category 2 standard for gloves that don’t meet categories 1 or 3.

For gloves to meet Category 3 standards for high-risk applications where protection against micro-organisms or chemicals is required, they are assessed against EN420 and more specifically EN374-2 (liquid penetration and micro-organisms), EN374-3 (chemical permeation) and EN388 (cut and abrasion).

Medical Glove Standards

For non-sterile disposable gloves to be certified as ‘Medical grade’, they must conform to EN455 which tests for water tightness, physical dimensions, strength and presence of any latex proteins.

NEED HELP CHOOSING THE RIGHT GLOVES FOR YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT?

If you’re still unsure which disposable glove type, brand or grade is best for your specific hand protection needs, feel free to contact us for friendly advice without cost or obligation.

With over 30 years in the cleaning chemicals industry, our aim is to ensure you have the best personal protection equipment to help you complete your work safely.

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Marken Powerclean are an independent family business, with over 25 years in the cleaning industry. We provide a professional cleaning service in addition to a range of proven and highly effective products for the removal of graffiti and protection against graffiti vandalism. Our aim is to provide the most effective products available for specific applications.

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