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Product Guide: Gloves

Materials overview

With the rise in awareness of latex and chemical allergies and the increase in powdered gloves bans due to powder-related issues for both patients and healthcare providers, synthetic and powder-free gloves continue to gain in favor. Today, technology and the free market make it possible to manufacture gloves with several different materials. Each glove type offers unique advantages but simultaneously comes with a certain degree of compromise in terms of barrier protection, durability, sensitivity, comfort, and cost, even with the technological advancements in manufacturing. No glove provides the “perfect” solution for all applications, and it is nearly impossible for a healthcare facility or any user to rely on a single type of glove material to meet all their needs.

1st generation

2nd generation

3rd generation

4th generation
Nitrile & Vinyl blend

Glove Materials

1st generation: Latex

Latex disposable gloves are characterized by their exceptional fit, tactile sensitivity, dexterity, and comfort. Among available materials, latex stands out as the most elastic and enduring. It surpasses nitrile and vinyl in flexibility and offers heightened tactile perception. Derived from the mature Hevea brasiliensis tree's sap, native to South America and also present in Southeast Asia, latex is a form of natural rubber. It took over as the primary source of natural rubber in the early 20th century, outshining the Indian rubber plant. Vulcanization, a chemical process patented by Charles Goodyear in 1844, is used to enhance latex's pliability and extensibility during sap preparation. While latex has historically dominated medical applications due to its excellent fit, nitrile and vinyl are growing in popularity due to allergy concerns and cost-effectiveness.

Though the FDA prohibited powdered latex gloves for medical use in the US in January 2017, powder-free latex gloves remain accessible. Industries like automotive, janitorial, paint shops, and printing utilize industrial-grade latex gloves, while food manufacturing and services also employ them. Exam grade gloves find utility in medical, dental, laboratory, non-surgical, and EMS procedures based on jurisdiction.

Latex gloves can be subjected to chlorination to reduce latex proteins, albeit not completely eliminating them. This process also renders the gloves softer but reduces their shelf life. Puncture resistance is higher in latex than vinyl gloves, though not as formidable as nitrile gloves. Latex prices fluctuate due to variables typical of any natural resource, such as weather and economic instability.

Latex allergies impact less than 1% of the US population (approximately 3 million individuals). Among healthcare personnel, this figure elevates to 8-17% due to prolonged exposure to latex-containing products. Some individuals without prior allergies might experience contact dermatitis upon exposure.

2nd generation: Vinyl

Vinyl gloves, a successor to latex in the realm of protective hand coverings, are constructed from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – their primary component. PVC, inherently rigid, is rendered pliable and supple through incorporation of a plasticizer, enabling its transformation into glove form. Unlike nitrile gloves which frequently employ synthetic constituents, vinyl gloves exclusively comprise PVC monomers, culminating in a cost-effective alternative. The evolution of vinyl stems from inadvertent 19th-century experimentation, while Friedrich Heinrich August Klatte, a German inventor, unveiled a sunlight-induced polymerization method for vinyl chloride in 1913, resulting in a patented material.

Ongoing research has facilitated identification of additives that enhance PVC's adaptability. The material's utility extends beyond gloves to encompass an array of products: bottles, plumbing fixtures, toys, credit cards, rain gutters, and more. Vinyl gloves manifest in both powdered and powder-free iterations, catering to both industrial and examination-grade needs. Compared to latex or nitrile counterparts, vinyl offers a more relaxed fit, prioritizing comfort over heightened tactile sensitivity. By negating latex allergy concerns and sidestepping nitrile's petroleum-based attributes, vinyl emerges as a judicious cost-effective option, especially suited for scenarios necessitating frequent glove replacement. Consequently, it finds extensive application in domains such as food service, beauty & salon services, and janitorial services. While the majority of vinyl gloves sport transparent or ivory hues, blue variants specifically designed for food processing enhance detectability in case of detachment and potential contamination, expediting removal procedures.

3rd generation: Nitrile

Nitrile, a third-generation material for disposable gloves, emerged in the 1990s. In 1931, German chemists Erich Konrad and Eduard Tschunkur patented nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), which gained momentum in the 1930s for applications like tire manufacturing and rubber seals. In 1991, Neil Tillotson and Luc DeBecker pioneered the first 100 percent nitrile disposable glove, earning a patent for nitrile exam glove technology.

While nitrile gloves were initially slow to gain traction in the medical field, they swiftly rose to prominence, supplanting latex as the "Next Big Thing" in hand protection.

Nitrile stands as the foremost recommended choice for disposable gloves, surpassing latex and vinyl in strength, while mirroring latex's fit, feel, and comfort. With threefold puncture, abrasion, and chemical resistance of latex, nitrile is suitable for handling three-fourths of common market chemicals, including mineral oils, vegetable oils, grease, gasoline, diesel fuel, and various acids. Nitrile's absence of organic latex proteins eliminates latex allergy concerns. This quality benefits not only latex-sensitive individuals but also professionals in close public contact, such as medical, dental, security, tattoo, and salon personnel. Nitrile gloves find widespread use in medical, automotive, construction, janitorial, plumbing, paint shop, chemical, industrial, and food processing industries.

Nitrile gloves come in industrial and exam grades. They conform comfortably to hands as they warm up from body heat. Cost hinges on petroleum prices, rendering nitrile gloves pricier than other materials. Nevertheless, they offer durability and suitability for extended usage. Many industrial-grade nitrile gloves boast increased thickness to withstand demanding tasks, often outlasting natural latex rubber gloves.

4th generation: Nitrile & Vinyl Blend

The PVC Nitrile blend glove emerges as a novel synthetic hand protection solution, leveraging the manufacturing techniques of vinyl gloves.

Representing the fourth evolutionary phase of protective gloves post-nitrile, these gloves are a recent entrant into the industry landscape. Comprising a fusion of PVC vinyl paste and nitrile, they amalgamate the advantageous traits of both materials within a single entity. This hybrid glove derives from an adept blend of vinyl resin and nitrile through a specialized process that circumvents the use of natural rubber latex.

Offering an intriguing balance, they are more affordable than pure Nitrile gloves, yet surpass vinyl in tactile sensitivity, tensile strength, and puncture resistance—although not to the extent of nitrile. This glove offers a favorable cost-to-benefit ratio when seeking moderate dexterity and durability. Notably, these gloves serve as a budget-friendly alternative for latex-sensitive workers.

The evolving demand for nitrile gloves has spurred the creation of a diverse spectrum of nitrile glove solutions catering to various workplace scenarios. Simultaneously, vinyl gloves remain prevalent in disposable glove choices across workplaces due to their simplicity and economic viability in high-glove-turnover settings.

The industry discerned the potential of a vinyl-nitrile amalgamation, envisioning it as an optimal non-medical alternative. Beyond conferring elevated safety levels, these hybrid gloves offer heightened comfort, agility, and value for cost.

Blend gloves excel in elasticity and comfort, delivering an enhanced fit, secure grip, heightened dexterity, touch sensitivity, and comfort. In comparison, vinyl gloves exhibit diminished elasticity, while nitrile gloves' cost-effectiveness is counterbalanced by the concern of latex allergies. Hybrid vinyl-nitrile gloves find utility across diverse sectors—ranging from the food industry to eldercare, hygiene, cleaning, and technology manufacturing.

Material Chart

The glove materials must be aligned with your specific job and budget.

Application - Pinholes & AQL Exam

Once disposable gloves are crafted and dried, they undergo rigorous inspection before packaging and distribution. Whether safeguarding against harsh chemicals in industrial settings or potential exposure to blood-borne infections in medical contexts, the primary purpose of gloves is to shield users' hands. To adhere to the safety standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), exam-grade gloves must successfully navigate a battery of tests. These evaluations encompass puncture and abrasion resistance, tension and elongation measurements, as well as chemical resistance assessments.

Within this framework, the FDA has established acceptable quality limits (AQL) for glove assessment, a protocol formulated by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), a global standards-setting body. Employing a percentage-based approach applied to a sample of gloves, the AQL dictates the permissible margin of failure. For instance, if a sample of 100 gloves bears an AQL of 3.0, only three gloves can fall short. (The AQL for medical-grade gloves is set at 2.5 or lower.) If more than three gloves fall outside the acceptable criteria, the entire batch is deemed non-compliant. Manufacturers use this feedback to refine their production processes, with lower AQL figures denoting higher quality items.

Should gloves not meet ASTM test standards, the FDA does not label them as "approved" but potentially "accepted." While manufacturers generally strive for FDA compliance, a few may not attain it. The medical industry's heightened hazards warrant a lower AQL score for medical-grade gloves. Rigorous inspections include the pinhole leak test, gauging the gloves' suitability for medical use by assessing barrier integrity. Given that even the slightest fissure could permit viral entry, gloves are filled with water and hung upside down to identify leaks. Those that remain impervious gain approval for medical applications.

It's important to note that the absence of formal "certification" does not indicate a lack of safety in gloves. Additionally, the term "sterile" is not applicable to exam gloves; only irradiated surgical gloves earn the label of being sterile.



Glove material thickness is commonly assessed in mil, equivalent to one thousandth of an inch (1 inch = 1000 mils). For medical disposable gloves, thickness usually falls within the range of 2 to 10 mils.

Opting for a thicker gauge glove offers heightened protection compared to a thinner counterpart of the same material. However, this often comes at the trade-off of reduced touch sensitivity and dexterity. Employing double-gloving can extend the total breakthrough time of a specific glove, albeit this approach elevates hand fatigue and heat buildup, rendering it advisable mainly for short-duration tasks.

In glove production, ceramic hand-shaped molds are positioned on the assembly line with fingers pointing downward. The solution gravitates towards the glove's lower portion as the molds traverse the line. Following thorough drying, the glove's fingers become the most substantial part, while the palm and wrists adopt a thinner profile. Fingers tend to endure the highest degree of wear in most applications. The measurement of glove thickness is coupled with gravity through repetitive dipping of molds into the solution, leading to successive application of solution layers.

Consequently, vigilance regarding glove thickness at the fingertips, palm, and cuff is crucial, as uniformity in this aspect is generally lacking. A discernible connection exists between thickness, material composition, and chemical resistance in the application and utilization of disposable gloves. As glove thickness increases, both chemical and mechanical resistance escalate, though manual dexterity diminishes. Thicker gloves entail higher production costs, subsequently impacting their price. According to glove manufacturers, doubling the thickness of a glove results in a quadrupled chemical breakthrough period.

Length & Cuff

The cuff length of a disposable glove is associated with the additional covered area of the wrist. The cuffs on most disposable gloves are rolled to make the glove easier to don.

The rolled edge reinforces the glove so you can pull it on without tearing. The cuff length of a standard disposable glove is a 9.0” cuff which covers only a small area of the wrist. Extra-length (12” cuff) gloves are essential if you must ensure protection of the lower arm.


Even under extreme conditions, disposable gloves have to offer maximum safety. Therefore, robustness and tensile strength are of crucial importance. Strength tests simulate stress during actual usage. Glove strength is measured by resistance to tearing as well as by stretchability. Testing typically covers tensile strength and elongation. ASTM D412 regulates the minimum tensile propriety requirements.

Box Count

The quantity of gloves per box significantly impacts the box's dimensions. We frequently advise our customers to factor in the box size to ensure proper fit within their facility dispensers, although these dispensers are often of a standardized size.

Generally, by increasing the number of gloves in each box, you can diminish the slight possibility of depleting the glove supply within the box. This approach not only conserves time by reducing the need for frequent replenishment but also enhances efficiency. Some boxes feature a barrier film to retain gloves within the box as it empties. Consequently, you can extract only the necessary quantity, streamlining operations and consequently curbing wastage.

Texture & Surface

Texture holds utmost significance in the selection of an appropriate glove for a given task, and its origin traces back to the glove molds employed during the manufacturing process. This texturing procedure hinges on two techniques: sandblasting and spray-on, both contributing to the creation of a textured surface. Sandblasting employs ceramic balls and pressurized air to generate texture, while spray-on involves the direct application of a coating. These methods, although sharing a fundamental similarity, exhibit distinct patterns and cater to diverse client preferences.

Larger gloves predominantly undergo sandblasting, whereas thinner gloves lean towards the spray-on technique. The spectrum of texturing options encompasses complete coverage, finger texturing, fingertip texturing, inner palm and finger texturing, or texturing on both sides. As most disposable gloves are ambidextrous, both sides inherently feature texturing. Textured surfaces on gloves furnish an improved grip, ranging from micro-roughening for basic needs to an assertive raised diamond texture adept at channeling liquids away from the grip even under wet conditions.


Most of these gloves are composed of vinyl and have no texture. Smooth gloves are ideal for tasks where a precise grasp isn’t required, such as salon care, food preparation, and food service.


Used mostly for nitrile and latex gloves. In fact, textured nitrile gloves account for 95% of all nitrile gloves. The surface of these gloves appears to be lightly sanded. They’re ideal for medical applications since they provide a better grip for handling equipment and small objects without having an exaggerated surface that could irritate patients.


Disposable gloves with the strongest texture. The raised diamonds of this pattern have channels between them that allow liquids to move through, allowing for more surface contact and improved grip. The raised diamond texture is great for holding wet or slippery small objects and tools. Gloves with a rough texture demand more material, so they're thicker and more protective. These gloves are most suited to automotive and manufacturing applications, with lesser use in medical situations.

Chemical Resistance

The selection of gloves should be guided by the nature of compounds and potential hazards they entail, alongside the nature of exposure. Thin disposable gloves are tailored primarily for incidental chemical contact, emphasizing tactility and comfort but offering only rudimentary chemical defense. Generally, increased thickness correlates with extended breakthrough periods, but solely within the same material category. Nitrile gloves, due to their heightened chemical resistance, are often favored over disposable latex, vinyl, and blended gloves. When unsure, reaching out to the glove manufacturer for guidance on suitable options based on material type and thickness is advised, as chemical resistance and exposure are contingent on these factors. Some gloves are suitable for total immersion, while others are designed for accidental splash protection, intermittent contact, or require cautious usage due to potential failure upon brief exposure, contingent on the specific chemical involved.

Which gloves are suitable for handling chemotherapy drugs?

Cytotoxic medications, notably potent in cancer treatment, demand meticulous hand protection due to their extreme toxicity. Glove selection hinges on the specific chemical in use. For handling cytotoxic agents, nitrile examination gloves stand as a viable choice. It's imperative to always use gloves certified by ASTM D6978 for chemotherapeutic drug resistance. Before donning gloves, verify their integrity. Additionally, double donning is recommended to enhance protective measures.


Disposable gloves offer a broad spectrum of colors, many of which are strategically associated with specific purposes. In medical contexts, color coding assists healthcare practitioners in differentiating between latex and nitrile glove materials, facilitating precise selection for various scenarios. This simplifies training efforts within healthcare institutions, ensuring appropriate glove usage.

Nitrile exam gloves are commonly donned in blue, while latex exam gloves typically sport a white hue. Automotive technicians favor black gloves as they adeptly conceal dirt and grease while maintaining a professional appearance. Black gloves are also preferred by tattoo artists, police officers, security personnel, and staff in upscale restaurants' front-of-house and kitchen settings. Nitrile gloves extend their color spectrum to include high-visibility shades like orange, green, and yellow in industries characterized by manual labor.

Vibrant hues offer augmented protection by enhancing visibility in dim working conditions and aiding managers in verifying proper glove usage. However, certain work environments necessitate adherence to predefined protocols beyond individual preferences.

The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) management system governs safety in food processing, encompassing raw food handling, production procedures, and end-product manufacturing and distribution. HACCP guides each phase of food production to prevent cross-contamination, spanning activities like raw food preparation, cooking, meal handling, and packaging. To delineate distinct stages, a color-coded system, incorporating personal protective equipment and disposable gloves, is commonly adopted. This prevents workers wearing incorrect colors from accessing separate production areas without proper gear changes.

Color coding proves especially advantageous in environments where allergies must be managed, such as factories, restaurants, and kitchens. Manufacturing facilities featuring rotating shifts throughout the week and day also employ this practice. Workers assigned to morning, midday, or night shifts don different colors, ensuring seamless process continuity.

This systematic approach to color coding is prevalent in industries emphasizing product and process security. By aligning employees with specific processes via color coding, a comprehensive understanding of the entire workflow is cultivated, mitigating the risk of errors or omissions.

Sterile & Surgical

The increased cost of sterile gloves compared to non-sterile gloves can be attributed to factors such as the rigorous sterilization process, elevated AQL standards, and more stringent packaging requirements. In medical contexts that involve non-surgical procedures demanding protection against bacteria, parasites, or bodily fluids, non-sterile medical-grade gloves are commonly employed.

Sterile gloves find necessity within surgical settings. These gloves go beyond cleanliness, as they are entirely free from bacteria and germs. The absence of any microorganisms capable of propagating and disseminating harmful pathogens or bacteria characterizes the sterility of these gloves. During surgeries and other medical scenarios with a heightened infection risk for patients, sterile gloves are the preferred choice.

Sterile gloves achieve their sterility through compliance with FDA guidelines for sterilization. All sterilization processes must adhere to the FDA's Standard Assurance Level (SAL), ensuring a one in a million likelihood of non-sterility. Even if highly resilient germs were present before sterilization, the approved techniques effectively sanitize the gloves.

Non-sterile gloves typically undergo sterilization by entities other than the glove manufacturer. Following sterilization, they undergo scrutiny to ascertain their conformity to FDA SAL requirements. Packaging sterile gloves in individual pairs is a precautionary measure to maintain the gloves' sterility. Furthermore, sterile gloves adhere to a more stringent Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) for pinholes.

Surgical gloves, denoted as sterile, exhibit an AQL ranging from 1.0 to 1.5, while non-sterile examination gloves boast an AQL within the range of 1.5 to 2.5. An AQL of 1 implies that no more than 1% of gloves in a sample display pinholes, whereas an AQL of 2.5 permits up to 2.5% of gloves to have such imperfections. This distinction underscores the exclusive use of sterile gloves in surgical procedures. The heightened cost of sterile gloves, in comparison to non-sterile ones, is attributed to the rigorous sterilization process, elevated AQL criteria, and more stringent packaging protocols.

For most non-surgical medical procedures, non-sterile gloves suffice due to their affordability. Research has shown that non-sterile gloves do not pose an elevated infection risk in non-surgical settings when compared to sterile gloves.

Finish & Treatment

There are many manufacturing procedures that make it easier to put on and take off gloves with additional surface treatment.

The fundamental difference in a glove's finish is whether the inside is powdered or not. Powdered gloves, which are coated on the inside with food-grade cornstarch for easy changes when hands are wet, are preferred by some people. They are popular in applications where there is a lot of moisture. Glove molds were traditionally powdered to make removing the gloves from the mold easier. As a result, powder was already on the glove, and those that were made powder-free required an additional process to remove the residue.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned powdered latex exam gloves from sale in the United States in January 2017 due to concerns that the cornstarch could impede wound healing and serve as a vehicle for the transmission of latex allergies. During the production process, powder-free gloves are given three different finishes:

Inside coating

Gloves with a polymer coating on the inside (silicon, acrylics, and hydrogels) have a smoother finish and less surface friction, making them easier to put on and take off. They are commonly applied to nitrile gloves. Skin irritation can be an important problem for healthcare professionals and it is no secret that the constant cycle of washing can leave their hands feeling dry and uncomfortable. Irritated hands make it difficult to comfortably care for patients and some inside coating can nourish the hands of the glove wearer or at least limit skin irritation.


The process of chlorination involves either immersing gloves in a chlorine gas solution or subjecting them to chlorine gas. This treatment imparts a softer texture and enhanced comfort to the gloves, facilitating their donning and removal. Following this step, the gloves undergo a thorough rinsing. Chlorination serves the purpose of reducing the presence of residual latex proteins in latex gloves, thereby minimizing the risk of allergic reactions. Recognizing that latex inherently possesses a degree of stickiness, certain gloves, particularly those with greater thickness like latex gloves, undergo a double chlorination process to further simplify the act of putting on and taking off the gloves.


Polyurethane is frequently applied on the inside of vinyl gloves to reduce surface tackiness and make the glove easier to put on and remove.


What is the allergy potential of disposable gloves?

Water soluble proteins removed from natural latex gloves by sweat can induce allergies and are one of the most common causes of allergic reactions to disposable gloves. Natural latex protein allergy is classified as an instant type (Type I) allergy. Type IV (delayed) allergies are allergic reactions to chemicals utilized in the manufacturing process.

How can one avoid developing a latex allergy?

Latex allergies can be avoided by using gloves that are not made of natural latex, such as nitrile or PVC gloves, or powder-free latex gloves with a low protein content. Furthermore, regular skin care, such as proper hand drying after washing and the application of lotion on a regular basis, can help prevent allergies.

Is there a limit to the protein content of latex gloves?

Powder-free gloves go through a thorough leaching and washing procedure to ensure that the amount of leachable protein is kept to a minimum. When employing natural rubber latex gloves, however, it is impossible to totally remove allergenic protein exposure, and there is no specified safe limit. As a result, every glove made from NR must explicitly state on the primary packaging that it contains natural rubber latex, as well as provide a warning that the product may cause allergic reactions.

Certifications Overview

ASTM Certifications

Tests Levels of appreciation Description

ASTM D5151
Presence of pinholes

The holes are small enough to prevent water from leaving the glove.

The goal is to detect if the pinholes (which can never be 100% removed) are small enough to prevent liquids from entering and exiting the gloves. The test consists of filling the gloves with water (1000 ml), hanging them upside down and observing if the liquid escapes for two minutes. If no liquid escapes, the test is considered a success and then we can move on to the other tests. You can also add the sample test, which involves filling them with air to detect any weak points, holes or other deformations.

ASTM D6124
Powder free

Maximum of 2 mg of powder per glove

Test method which consists of determining the level of residual powder on medical gloves. This powder can cause skin irritation or a rather severe reaction when it encounters a wound or a cut on the patient. The test involves rinsing the gloves individually with water, then we filter the water to collect the powder residue. We then calculate the amount of powder using a scale to ensure that it does not exceed 2 mg.

ASTM D5712
Low levels of protein

Less than 50 mg of protein per glove

This test method covers an analytical test for determining the amount of total aqueous extractable protein associated with natural rubber (NR) and its products. Water soluble proteins are extracted in a buffer solution and then precipitated to concentrate and separate them from water soluble substances that may interfere with the determination.

ASTM D3767
Conformity of sizes

Dimensions respect the industry's size conformity

Measure the dimensions of the gloves according to the size chosen in millimeters. The length is measured from the end of the second finger to the end of the wrist, using a tape measure. The width is measured by the ends of the palm of the hand, using a tape measure. The thickness is measured at the location of the second finger using a tool such as a laser thickness gauge.

Thermal resistance

The glove is heat resistant

Measure the degradation of gloves by heat, i.e., the thermal resistance of the product. The test consists of placing a glove in an air oven, at a temperature maintained at 70 Celsius ± 2 Celsius for a duration of 166 hours. We then look at the results to make sure the glove retains all its protective properties even after long exposure to heat.

ASTM D6499
Rubber Immunity

Natural rubber protein immunity

This test method covers an immunological method to determine the amount of antigenic protein in Hevea Natural Rubber and its products using rabbit antisera specific for HNRL proteins. This immunoassay procedure quantitatively measures the level of antigenic latex proteins in a solution using an inhibition format.

Tensile proprieties

The glove will not rupture before it reaches a certain stretching force

The glove will be stretched over a certain period until it reaches the targeted newton force (which depends on the material the glove is made of).

ASTM F1671
Resistance to pathogens

The glove is resistant to the Exposure to pathogens

This test method is used to measure the resistance of materials used in protective clothing to the penetration by blood-borne pathogens using a surrogate microbe under conditions of continuous liquid contact. Protective clothing material pass/fail determinations are based on the detection of viral penetration.

Prolongated exposition to liquid

The glove is resistant to exposure to liquids.

This test method measures the permeation of liquids and gases through protective clothing materials under the condition of continuous contact. The test chemical did not pierce the sample at a rate greater than 0.1 g / cm2 / min within the designated time if the normalized breakthrough time is greater than a certain period. During this particular period, permeation may or may not have occurred at a slower rate.

ASTM D6978
Chemotherapy drugs

Resistance of glove materials to permeation of cancer chemotherapy drugs

Protocol for the assessment of resistance of medical glove materials to permeation by potentially hazardous cancer chemotherapy drugs under conditions of continuous contact. An assessment is made based on the permeation (breakthrough) of nine chemotherapy drugs through the glove material over a certain period.