Latex vs Nitrile Gloves
3 Key Differences
Until recently, latex was the go-to material for gloves across many different applications. Now, we have a couple of different choices when it comes to disposable gloves. While latex is still commonly used in some medical applications, nitrile is becoming an increasingly popular choice.
Here, we’ll discuss the differences in features between these two types of disposable glove materials:
1. What They’re Made Of
Did You Know…?
Latex is actually made of organic tree sap.
It’s no surprise, then, that individuals who are prone to allergies often find themselves irritated by latex. In fact, latex allergies are so common that FDA even issued a recommendation for medical suppliers to label products according to whether or not they contain latex.
Because contact with latex can cause harmful irritations to the user if he or she is allergic to it. Latex gloves are considered to be more inherently dangerous than nitrile.
Nitrile is made of inorganic synthetic materials which are considered to be 100% clean. Thus, there are no harmful properties (specifically, allergenic proteins) found within disposable nitrile gloves.
So, if latex allergies are a concern for anyone coming into contact with your disposable gloves, nitrile is the obvious choice.
2. How They Fit
Latex gloves are available in a variety of sizes, so their fit is somewhat customizable. That said, the material is non-conforming. Meaning that regardless of the duration for which it is worn, latex gloves will never fully mold to your hand.
There is no sizing memory feature. As a result, many cleanroom operators and other types of disposable glove wearers find latex to be less than ideal in terms of comfort.
Let’s say we have a nitrile glove on the other hand (literally and figuratively). It will actually form to the wearer, thanks to its unique memory membrane. Unlike latex.
The result is a more comfortable fit, and with reduced slipping, sticking, or other nuisances typically caused by latex gloves, nitrile may also protect against hand fatigue.
3. Level Of Protection Provided
With a proper fit, latex can be fairly durable. It’s highly resistant against alkalis, acids, ketones, alcohols, and other types of contaminants.
Nitrile is more puncture resistant:
Latex does little to protect the skin in contrast with the puncture resistance achieved by nitrile gloves.
Whereas latex can rupture when used too roughly or by snagging on a piece of equipment. Nitrile is more durable and thus achieves a higher level of barrier protection.
In applications where operator safety could be a concern, nitrile is a top-notch choice.
As you can see, nitrile tends to outperform latex in many key areas.
Latex gloves are still an affordable and feasible option for some applications, including certain industrial settings.
Yet, for applications in which users may come into contact with puncture risks or harsh chemicals, opting for nitrile’s added protection will provide greater peace of mind. And it’s also a necessary step if you have employees with latex allergies.