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When deciding between latex, nitrile and vinyl gloves…it can be a little confusing trying to determine which type of glove is the ideal choice.  Let’s take a closer look at the attributes and benefits of each type of glove.

Latex Gloves

Latex Gloves are natural material, made out of rubber.  They are a popular choice of protective glove for medical or industrial use.  The primary reason people would choose an alternative 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.
Attributes include: 

  • Fit 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 cost-effective
  • Are lightly powdered, making it easier to put on
  • Are very elastic and strong
  • Are biodegradable


  • Allergic reactions for some users
  • Costs fluctuation according to prices of natural sources
  • Not as chemical resistant as other glove types

Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile Gloves gloves are made out of a synthetic rubber, and are an ideal alternative when latex allergies are of concern.   Nitrile gloves are the superior glove when it comes to puncture resistance.  Nitrile gloves are often referred to as “medical grade.”  Before gloves can be marketed to hospitals and medical institutions, they must undergo a series of tests conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure their durability.
Attributes include:

  • Latex-free
  • Are most 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
  • Work well for high-risk situations involving infectious material
  • Resist many chemicals
  • Have a long shelf life
  • Are available in blue or black to help identify if the glove has been punctured

Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl Gloves are a popular choice for food service and light to medium duty cleaning applications and situations where high levels of durability and protection are less of a priority.  While they may be less durable than nitrile, they are the less expensive option.

Attributes include:

  • Latex-free, Prevents allergic reactions
  • Available in Industrial grade for durability
  • Have a looser fit
  • Are good for short-term, low-risk tasks
  • Are the 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

Sterile Gloves

Sterile vs Non-sterile Exam GlovesSterile gloves (surgical gloves) are deemed sterile because they have been sterilized according to FDA standards.  The FDA has an SAL (standard assurance level) that all sterilization techniques must meet. When this standard is met, there is a 1 in 1,000,000 (one in one million) chance that the glove is non-sterile.  The approved sterilization processes can sterilize gloves even if highly resistant microorganisms were present before sterilization.  Typically, non-sterile gloves are sterilized by someone other than the glove manufacturer.  After the gloves are sterilized, they have to be tested to ensure they meet the FDA SAL.Sterile gloves have a higher AQL (acceptable quality level) of pinholes.  
Sterile gloves are used for surgical procedures primarily.  Because of the sterilization process, higher AQL standards, and stricter packaging standards, sterile gloves are more expensive than non-sterile gloves.
Because non-sterile gloves are less expensive than sterile gloves and have been found to pose no higher risk of infection for non-surgical procedures when compared with sterile gloves, non-sterile gloves are used for the majority of medical procedures that are considered non-surgical.

So, when it comes time to decide which type of protective glove is the right choice for you, the most important thing to consider is….how much protection do you need?