The Difference between Nitrile, Latex, and Vinyl Gloves

Updated on February 16, 2021

By Jay Martin

If you are in the market for disposable gloves you’ve likely come down to three options; nitrile, vinyl and latex. Knowing the difference between nitrile, vinyl, and latex gloves will help you to pick the type that best suits your needs. In this article we’ll share the key differences and best use cases of these three popular glove materials.

Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile emerged as a latex alternative nitrile has become the go to gloves material when long shelve life, durability and chemical resistance was a first priority. Mainly used as personal protective equipment, nitrile gloves are good for handling rough and corrosive substances, thanks to their excellent puncture resistance. 

These gloves are made of synthetic rubber polymer and are latex-free. According to CDC, up to 6% of Americans suffer from latex allergies. If you are part of this group, nitrile gloves will be your ideal glove.

Though nitrile gloves may not be more comfortable than latex they are definitely more comfortable than vinyl, with a nicer fit too.

When compared to the latex gloves, nitrile gloves offered less protection against virus and bacteria. So, when possible, latex gloves might be a better choice for surgeons and front-line staff, like nurses. Nitrile gloves also dissolve in acetone, so are not suitable for use with this chemical. For pharmacy or any other industrial use nitrile gloves are a good choice, however. 

Demand for nitrile gloves has recently surged and they can be a bit pricey compared to other glove types.

Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves, made of PVC materials, are widely used in the medical and industrial fields. Among the three most common glove alternatives, vinyl ones are the cheapest but also the least durable.

If you are looking for gloves to use in the food industry or any sector where security and safety is not a huge concern, vinyl gloves are often the common choice. These gloves are not tight fitting but are easy to put on and remove as they are usually lightly powdered. People with latex allergy can also use these gloves with no concerns for about skin irritation.

Vinyl gloves are not recommended for high-risk fields, like working with liquid chemicals or during surgery. People in fields other than these, like pharmaceutical and food processing, can use these budget friendly gloves with no concerns and can save some money doing so. 

Latex Gloves

Produced from natural rubber latex, these gloves are perfect for almost all sorts of medium duty tasks. These gloves are more durable and reliable than the vinyl ones but also cost a bit extra.

Latex gloves act as an effective barrier against contaminations and can be used for medical and industrial purposes, when the wearer is not allergic to them. Latex gloves are puncture or tear resistant and fit very well to the hand.

Latex gloves are commonly used in many industries due to their durability, versatility, and high quality. They would likely be the only glove type that would need to exist were it not for the skin irritation allergies they can cause some people. 

For organizational usage, it’s best if you offer an alternative to latex gloves, like nitrile and or vinyl, based on the nature of the job. As some employees may not be comfortable working with latex on. 

If you’re unsure of which gloves will suit you best, talk to your local glove distributor to get an informed and expert opinion on the matter. 

Jay Martin is the Asia Distribution Manager for MediSupply Warehouse, a medical supplies company specializing in medical gloves, face masks and other PPE. He has been working in the medical supply industry for over 10 years and is passionate about all things related to fitness, nutrition, and anti-aging.

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