Key Differences Between Latex, Vinyl, and Nitrile Gloves

Box of latex gloves in medical setting

The world is frantically looking for solutions to combat the Coronavirus, and an effective way to help protect yourself from it is the use of PPE (personal protective equipment). PPE consists of things such as face shields, masks, medical gowns, gloves, and other equipment. All of these items are in high demand, but gloves are among the most used. Latex, vinyl, and nitrile are some of the most popular materials for gloves. While all gloves’ functionality is very similar, depending on the material, some may be better in certain settings than others. In this article, we’ll be discussing the key differences between latex, vinyl, and nitrile gloves.

Pros and Cons of Latex Gloves

Latex gloves handling test tube in a medical setting

Latex naturally occurs in the latex ducts of trees. This material is what makes latex gloves. As the world tries to become more sustainable, latex is 100% biodegradable, taking a step towards a sustainable future. 

This material is among the most popular for making gloves. It’s form fitting properties and elasticity make for a very comfortable fit. This allows the user to wear them for extended periods of time. 

The medical and industrial industry use latex gloves due to properties that offer a  natural resistance to acids, bases, and other chemicals. However, these gloves do not protect as well as other materials such as nitrile. Latex gloves come in various thickness options to make sure the user has the appropriate protection necessary for the job. 

Along with the various thickness options, these gloves also come powdered or not powdered. This assists with fitting your hand into the gloves. Although latex gloves have many benefits, there are also some disadvantages to know about. 

In some instances, latex gloves can cause skin irritation among certain people. This is because the skin reacts to the proteins in the latex as harmful, and causes the skin to react. The latex will cause the skin to become dry and irritated. In serious cases the gloves may even cause an allergic reaction. This has caused the popularity of the glove to somewhat decrease. In addition to this, latex gloves tear easier than other materials. While the glove as a whole may seem intact, small puncture holes leave the user’s skin exposed. This allows harmful substances he/she may be handling to reach the skin. With latex being a naturally occurring substance and biodegradable, these gloves will not last forever. The shelf life of latex gloves is only about three years. The shelf life of vinyl and nitrile gloves while other gloves can be up to five.

Pros and Cons of Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves handling meat in the food industry

Vinyl gloves are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is non-biodegradable. The material is inexpensive and therefore makes these gloves much cheaper to produce and purchase than its counterparts. 

Vinyl gloves also have an expected shelf life of about 5 years since their material is non-biodegradable. This makes them much more economical for companies not looking to spend a lot of money and wanting to possibly buy in bulk. 

These are popular in home, food, and certain medical settings. This is due to the fact that these gloves are great for handling non-hazardous substances in which latex gloves would not be required. Gloves made of vinyl are also more loose fitting than others alternatives and allow the user to put them on easier than other alternatives. While a variety of jobs use vinyl gloves and love the economical aspect, there are also disadvantages to using them.

One of the disadvantages of vinyl gloves is that they do not offer much protection from chemicals or bio-hazardous materials. These gloves are loose fitting and thin, so jobs that require strenuous lifting should use thicker options. When handling certain chemicals that irritate the skin, thicker gloves are a better option. Due to the thin material, these gloves are also more prone to tearing and puncturing than say nitrile or latex gloves.

Pros and Cons of Nitrile Gloves

person putting on black nitrile gloves

Acrylonitrile and butadiene combine to make synthetic copolymer known as nitrile. The material starts out as rubber and transforms into latex. The latex goes through processing again which removes all the latex proteins and results with nitrile.

These gloves will tear with the smallest puncture or tear. While some may see this as a disadvantage, it actually keeps the user more safe, as gloves made of material like latex do not have any large indicator of small tears or punctures. Nitrile gloves are also much more durable and chemical resistant than latex gloves. Nitrile gloves  contain no latex, so latex allergies are not common by users of nitrile gloves.. However, some users may experience allergies due to other antigens in the material. 

People refer to nitrile gloves as medical grade gloves because many people in the medical field us them. This is due to their great ability to handle hazardous chemicals and other bio-fluids. 

Better than their latex counterpart, nitrile gloves have a shelf life of about 5 years, making them economical for companies wanting to buy in bulk. While nitrile gloves do offer a lot of benefits, there are also some disadvantages to wearing them.

One of the disadvantages of nitrile gloves is that they are more expensive to produce than other options, resulting in them being more expensive for the consumer. 

Conclusion: Which gloves are right for you?

With so many options to choose from when picking gloves, you should always consider what you will be handling and whether the glove material is appropriate to handle it. Also take into consideration any allergies you may have concerning the glove materials. These steps are extremely important to keeping you and anyone who wears them safe.

Latex, vinyl, and nitrile gloves are all popular gloves that various industries use today. Whether you are looking to save money, become more sustainable, or just for the most durable gloves there is a material for you.  Nitrile gloves are the most durable of the three, latex gloves are more eco-friendly and have many properties of nitrile gloves, and vinyl gloves tend to be the most economical. 

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The pH Blogger

The pH Blogger

Your Ultimate Source For Tips, News, & Updates on Safety Supplies, Dental, & Medical Industries.

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