What is the difference between powdered and powder free gloves?

It sounds obvious, right? Some disposable gloves are powdered, some are not. But PPE suppliers get asked about the difference between the two types all the time.

Powdered latex gloves are coated with cornstarch, making them less likely to stick together and much easier to put on, especially if you’re in a rush. But if you are wearing gloves for a long time, the powder can begin to cause irritation and sensitivities.

People with latex allergies are particularly vulnerable in this respect. This is less of a concern, however, in nitrile or vinyl gloves. It is also worth noting that in the food industry, the powder could transfer to clothing or surfaces, causing cross-contamination.

Powder-free gloves are a more expensive option, as they are mostly chlorinated. The chlorination process makes the materiel less form-fitting, so they are easier to put on. The disadvantage to powder-free gloves is that they have decreased touch sensitivity, are harder to remove and have a shorter shelf life, as they can become brittle over time.

On the upside, they have a lower chemical content, so minimise allergies and don’t leave residue on the users or their surroundings. There are non-chlorinated versions available, which have less of an odour, but they are not particularly popular, as they are harder to put on. To help with this, they have a coating of gel or silicone particles, which may still cause contamination.

A newer process is polymer coating. The coating includes acrylics, PU, polymer blends and hydrogels. A polymer coating is applied on the inside of the glove making it perfect for easy donning. This is typically used on high grade medical gloves’

We provide both powdered and powder-free options, so if you need help deciding on the right type of gloves, or any other medical supplies, contact one of our experts on 0845 208 4500 or email healthcare@strongholdglobal.com

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