Latex vs Nitrile vs Vinyl

The gloves are off; it’s time to decide … latex gloves, nitrile gloves or vinyl gloves? Choosing the right equipment for you and your team is paramount and since there are so many different types of disposable gloves, understanding their different uses and specifications will help. Comparing each material and the levels of protection, comfort and durability they provide, will determine which is right for you.

Latex gloves are biodegradable, resilient and offer good protection against viruses, bacteria and many chemicals. Made from natural rubber, they are the elastic, comfortable and form-fitting choice, making them popular with healthcare professionals, because of their tactile sensitivity. Unfortunately, a growing number of people suffer from latex allergies, making these gloves inappropriate and prompting many to choose synthetic polymer alternatives, such as nitrile or vinyl.

With their superior puncture resistance and durability, nitrile gloves also afford better protection against certain chemicals, over latex. They are suitable for the commercial cleaning and automotive sectors, but can also be used for medical purposes, as in order to be sold, they have to meet EN374-5 viral penetration tests. The main disadvantage to nitrile is that it takes a longer time to decompose than latex and so has a negative effect on the environment. To combat this, some PPE suppliers are providing biodegradable versions of their nitrile gloves.

Vinyl gloves are a cheaper alternative to latex and nitrile. Although they are not as durable, they are effective in protecting the wearer against oily substances, emulsions and other liquids. This makes them commonplace in the food, healthcare and cleaning industries. Although they do not offer the same dexterity as the other options, they are well suited to short-term, low risk tasks.

The material is not the only thing to consider, when choosing your gloves! There are also different finishes, like smooth or partially and fully textured, for better grip. Most gloves have a beaded or rolled cuff, which make them easier to remove, whilst some have an extended cuff, for better coverage.

If you need help deciding on the right gloves, or any other medical supplies, contact one of our experts on 0845 208 4500 or email

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