Choosing the right glove can be tricky if you are unsure about its contents, materials, and environmental impact – which is why we are taking a “hands-on” approach to provide the difference between nitrile, latex, and vinyl gloves. We will address the benefits, cons, settings, and after-effects of the three gloves and recommend the best fit for you.
What are nitrile gloves?
Nitrile gloves can be used in a variety of settings such as hospitals, construction sites, and chemical labs. They are made out of synthetic material alluded to mimic latex and provide a thinner feel to your hands. Nitrile gloves are slowly becoming the standard pick-up at supermarkets due to their hypoallergenic quality.
Advantages for nitrile gloves
Some benefits of nitrile gloves include:
- Hypoallergenic – This is especially important for individuals who are allergic to latex.
- Puncture resistance – It is safe to use in construction sites when lifting heavy objects.
- Chemical resistance – Provides adequate protection in chemical labs when handling hazardous acids, oils, etc.
- Transmission – Nitrile gloves can help prevent transmission of COVID-19 due to their dense material.
- Long shelf life – They are economical and last longer than most gloves.
Disadvantages for nitrile gloves
Some cons of using nitrile gloves include:
- Non-biodegradable – Nitrile is a thicker substance and difficult to dissolve, making it eco-unfriendly for Earth.
- Costly – They cost more than normal gloves. On average, nitrile gloves cost $32 per box; whereas pre-pandemic they were only $3 per box.
- Scarcity – Production of nitrile gloves has decreased while demand has significantly increased. The nitrile gloves market is anticipated to grow 13.1% from 2022 to 2027.
- Less sensitivity – Nitrile gloves provide little to no touch sensitivity.
What are latex gloves?
One of the most commonly used gloves are latex gloves. Latex gloves are created using natural rubber and strengthened by adding liquid rubber sap. Although 26 million Americans are allergic to latex, it holds the leading sales market for the most resistant and strong sensitivity glove.
Advantages of latex gloves:
- Strong sensitivity – The lightweight yet strong material of latex makes it effortlessly tangible, offering higher sensitivity.
- Eco-friendly – Because of its origination from rubber trees, natural latex gloves can be biodegradable or even put into compost as an easy recycling method.
- Highly resistant – Thick rubber skin offers extreme protection against spills, scrapes, and cuts.
Disadvantages of latex gloves:
- Highly allergic – According to the CDC, between 1–6% of the general American population suffer from latex allergies.
- Low chemical resistance – In the event of a chemical spill or handling organic solvents, latex has little resistance. Thus, it is more difficult to utilize Latex gloves in a safe manner.
- Little to no flaw detection – It is hard to detect punctures or tears on latex because of its advertised sturdy material.
What are vinyl gloves?
Vinyl gloves are low-priced, easily replaceable gloves situated for fast workforces such as restaurants and industrial fields. They are produced from a petroleum-based material called PVC, which is easy to source. Vinyl gloves offer the least amount of protection and frame themselves as a convenience in terms of money and accessibility.
Advantages of Vinyl gloves:
- Non-allergic – Scraping off the necessity of having latex, vinyl gloves are non-allergic. This makes vinyl gloves an easy and inclusive option for everyone.
- Cost-effective –Vinyl gloves are cheap and offered at a low market price for their quality.
- Readily available – They are easier to mass produce because they cost fewer materials and resources; assuring that they are always in stock.
Disadvantages of vinyl gloves:
- Not eco-friendly – When petroleum breaks down, the leachate remains on top of the water, and this causes disruption in aquatic life and the inability for many sea animals to live underwater.
- Low pathogen resistance – Due to its thin and cheap material, vinyl gloves are hazardous to use in medical and chemical lab situations.
- Under protective – When vinyl gloves undergo pressure, such as stretching or pulling, the integrity of the gloves is reduced and can underperform.
When should I use nitrile, latex, or vinyl gloves?
- Hospitals because of their medical-grade and FDA-approved strength test.
- Industrial setting or a construction site due to their durability.
- Operation theater because of high touch sensitivity.
- Chemical labs due to their rigid material and low chemical transmission rate.
- Handling and serving food in order to prevent the transfer of bacteria onto food.
- Light tasks such as painting, cooking, and cleaning.
Why would someone choose nitrile over latex? Allergy is key!
While nitrile and latex gloves are both commonly used, sometimes you might still want to choose nitrile over latex. That is because people with latex allergies may develop hives, swelling, or rashes when in contact with latex gloves. According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, between 8 to 17% of healthcare workers and those who regularly use latex gloves are allergic to latex. In contrast, nitrile gloves are much more skin-friendly. According to the FDA, gloves made from synthetic materials such as polyvinyl chloride, nitrile, or polyurethane are also safer for those with latex allergies.
Nitrile – Most popular form of gloves is used for the highest rate of safety and durability. They are reliable for the most hazardous tasks such as transporting chemicals to perform heart surgery in a hospital. Their durability and synthetic rubber make them a top-of-the-line glove for heavy work.
Latex – It is a neck-to-neck competition between latex and nitrile gloves, but latex gloves make their mark as a leading contender because of their high sensitivity and eco-friendly material. Thus, they are the most popular in medical care and food services.
Vinyl – Stacked in shelves for its mass production ability, vinyl gloves are the go-to for individuals satisfied with minimum features. Vinyl gloves offer lower-scale protection for professionals looking to save a couple of extra dollars and performing light-duty tasks such as painting a fence or cleaning the kitchen.
If you are interested in learning more about the certification requirements of medical gloves, make sure to read the regulations and certifications for medical gloves.
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