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Buyers Guide To Disposable Latex Gloves

Many people use disposable gloves every day. They use them as desired, then discard them without ever taking the time to think about what they are made of? Or which type of glove should be used for what situation? Are some gloves safe for food yet not appropriate for medical use? What are the actual differences between nitrile gloves, latex gloves or vinyl gloves? We have compiled this guide to answer these questions and to provide some insight into disposable gloves.


Below is a list and short description of the four most typical types of materials used in making disposable gloves. The glove material is very important and there are many reasons to use or not use each one. Glove materials differ in the level of barrier protection they provide, allergen content, strength, durability, elasticity, fit, comfort, and resistance to punctures and chemicals, so choosing the right glove for the job is very important.


Latex Gloves


Latex gloves are the most common disposable glove used. Their high tensile strength makes them strong and durable, providing excellent barrier protection for the user. Due to their high elasticity, they fit the hand like a second skin providing excellent comfort and fit. The latex material reduces finger fatigue and provides a high level of tactile sensitivity, making these gloves ideal for use in areas that require a fine sense of touch.


The main disadvantage of latex gloves is that they can produce an allergic reaction in some people. The most common reaction is irritant contact dermatitis, which is a skin reaction that leaves a red itchy rash and can happen even if the user does not have a latex allergy. The worst reaction a person can have to latex is an IgE-mediated latex allergy, which affects the immune system and can be life threatening. Once a person has had this type of reaction, they must use a latex free glove and avoid all forms of latex in their environment.


Latex gloves are available powdered and powder free. The powdered offers a cost effective option for easy donning. However, research has shown that when powdered latex gloves are put on and removed, the airborne powder can carry latex allergens that sensitise some people via inhalation. This risk can be reduced by choosing latex gloves with minimal glove powder, switching to a powder free option or using a latex free glove eg nitrile.


Powder free latex gloves are available chlorine free and chlorinated. Both options provide a disposable glove that is easy to put on without the use of powder. Chlorine free gloves have a smooth inner lining which makes them easy to put on. However, the drawback with these gloves is that they can contain a high level of latex protein, a known allergen. Chlorinated latex gloves have been dipped in a chlorine solution, which produces a slippery glove surface facilitating donning. One of the advantages of chlorinated latex gloves is their reduced levels of latex allergens due to the extra washing cycles required during the chlorination process.


See our selection of latex disposable gloves here:


Nitrile Gloves


Nitrile gloves are latex free and a good alternative for people who are allergic to latex. They exhibit excellent resistance to many chemicals, are extremely strong and their puncture resistance is superior to latex and vinyl, making them ideal for situations where a high level of strength and/or chemical resistance are required. Like latex, nitrile gloves are flexible and have a tight, snug fit. While it is generally accepted that the use of nitrile gloves produces few allergies, some do contain curing agents used during the manufacturing process that may affect some people. The ability of nitrile to fail dramatically once its barrier has been compromised, makes these disposable gloves ideal in situations where high levels of protection required.


Nitrile gloves are available powdered and powder free and come in a range of colours, thicknesses and cuff lengths.

See our range of nitrile disposable gloves here:


Vinyl Gloves


Vinyl gloves are latex free and can be a cost effective option for people working in low risk environments. However, they break and puncture easily during use, so they are not ideal in situations where the highest level of barrier protection is required. They are a loose-fitting glove with a large wrist diameter making them baggy around the cuff. The vinyl material has low elasticity, which limits fit and comfort for the wearer. Vinyl gloves have a low resistance to chemicals and should not be used in situations where chemical exposure may occur.


Vinyl gloves are available powdered and powder free. Unlike latex, there is no issue with glove powder and allergies, although some of the chemicals used during the manufacture of vinyl gloves can cause a reaction in some people.


Vinyl gloves are available in a variety of colours. The most popular colour is clear, although blue vinyl gloves are commonly found in food preparation areas, as their colour makes them easy to identify.

See our range of Vinyl disposable gloves here:


Polyethylene Gloves


Polyethylene gloves are made from plastic. They are latex free, lightweight, loose fitting and easy to put on. Polyethylene gloves are not the ideal choice for use in industrial or chemical environments as they do not hold up well to heat and are not resistant to chemicals. They are best suited for situations where the user needs to change gloves often while performing tasks that do not require high levels of barrier protection and dexterity. The most common place to find a polyethylene glove is in a fast food setting. The loose, easy fit makes it practical for counter food service where the attendant must change gloves to cash out customers after every order.

See our Polyethylene disposable gloves here:


Final Thoughts


One of the most important considerations in disposable glove selection is barrier protection. Does the glove give the wearer the best protection possible? A second consideration in selecting the right glove for the job is the possibility of allergies, particularly in the use of latex gloves. Risks to glove wearers may result if latex gloves with high levels of latex allergens and glove powder are used. Reducing this risk depends on limiting the amount of glove powder (if powdered latex gloves are used) and exposure to latex allergens.


The best practice for anyone working in situations that require disposable gloves is to wear a product that has the best barrier protection for the job, while minimizing the risk of an allergic reaction.


Contact the friendly team here at Fine Touch and we can assist you with your disposable glove requirements:

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