3 Differences Between Nitrile & Latex Gloves

3 Differences Between Nitrile & Latex Gloves

Until recently, latex was the go-to material for gloves across many different applications. Now, however, 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:

What They’re Made Of

Sap from rubber tree
Latex allergic reaction
Latex allergic reaction






Few people know that 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 the perfect choice for latex allergies, medical exams, and food handling.

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.

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, and 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. 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.

Level Of Protection Provided

Nitrile gloves offers superior puncture protection
Nitrile gloves offers superior puncture protection

With a proper fit, latex can be fairly durable. It’s highly resistant against alkalis, acids, ketones, alcohols, and other types of contaminants.

Yet, 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. Yet, 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. Browse and learn about all of options of latex gloves and nitrile disposable gloves in our store.

Get a Hand with Chemical-Resistant Gloves

Get a Hand with Chemical-Resistant Gloves
Chemical Resistant 18 mil Yellow Latex Gloves
Chemical Resistant 18 mil Yellow Latex Gloves

You don’t need to get an A in Chemistry Class to understand that there are tons of kinds of chemicals in the world. Over 60 million kinds of chemicals are registered with Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) system. From these, about 80,000 are subject to utilization by various industries.

The Chemistry of Chemicals

Chemicals simply co-exist with many industrial operations today. Whether in manufacturing, automotive and electronic production, pharmaceutical, medical, and chemical laboratories, and even in agricultural industries, these chemicals are essential for daily process and are proven to be beneficial for the business.
It is said that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, the saying is also true with chemicals. Handling these powerful elements certainly require a great amount of accountability. Why? Because there are certain chemicals that are corrosive or can cause visible destruction or permanent changes in human skin tissue at the site of contact. These substances can cause harm if not handled correctly.

Why Use Chemical Resistant Gloves?

Chemical Resistant 13" Green Nitrile Gloves
Chemical Resistant 13″ Green Nitrile Gloves

Ideal uses for chemical resistant gloves include food processing, automotive, metal fabrication, scientific research, and other areas of industry.Because you are handling powerful elements, wearing chemical-resistant gloves is one great way to demonstrate responsible chemical management and protect yourself, and your employees. Think of chemical-resistant gloves as Batman’s costume whenever you’re wearing it. Wearing protective gear helps to protect workers from injuries and helps save money and bad reports from accidents. Now that’s super!

Characteristics of Good Chemical Resistant Gloves

Chemical Resistant Neoprene Coated Latex Gloves
Chemical Resistant Neoprene Coated Latex Gloves

It is important that you opt for chemical-resistant gloves that have these essential attributes:


This is probably one of the first things that workers would consider as to whether or not they would wear chemical-resistant gloves. The level of comfort in wearing gloves can really affect how long one can bear to wear it. If the gloves offer poor level of comfort, workers are likely to remove them even if it means working with no protection at all. So make sure you invest in gloves that offer high levels of comfort. Besides, a ‘comfortable’ worker is more productive than one that is not.


Questions that you need to ask when opting for chemical-resistant gloves are ‘Is it making handling too slippery? Is it slowing down the hands’ mobility? Does wearing it make it more or less difficult to do the job?’ Even if the gloves offer comfort but still fail to give high level of performance, it would still not be as helpful as it ought to be.


Chemical Resistant 12" Smooth Finish PVC Coated Glove
Chemical Resistant 12″ Smooth Finish PVC Coated Glove

Finally, consider the gloves’ level of protection when handling corrosive chemicals. The very reason why chemical handlers are required to wear chemical-resistant gloves is to protect them upon contact with the substances. This is why it is essential that you choose the kind of gloves with a high level of protection against chemical contact such as acids. Keeping your hands protected from chemical injuries and irritation means wearing the right glove for the job. We offer chemical resistant gloves that can be used for any work application, from cleanup to directly handling harsh and hazardous liquids. Keep workers’ hands safe while providing dexterity and comfort needed to improve productivity.

Disposable Gloves 101

Disposable Gloves 101

The Gist on Disposable Gloves

Disposable gloves keep your hands and environment safe from contaminants, chemicals, and other dangers. Disposable gloves are used for hand protection in medical, forensic, scientific, automotive, food service, cleaning, and industrial applications. Single-use gloves come in a variety of materials and are used in industries worldwide.

Uses for Disposable Gloves

Medical Gloves

Disposable gloves are used in medical examinations and procedures to create a safety barrier that helps to prevent cross-contamination. This keeps medical personnel /caregivers and patients safe. Un-powdered gloves (which are covered below) are used more often during surgery to prevent contaminates. Medical and examination gloves are usually of higher quality materials and thickness to prevent tearing and punctures during procedures.

Food Gloves

If you’re handling or preparing food, disposable food gloves are a necessity. Food gloves ensure your food and employees stay clean and sanitary and provide a barrier against germs. Single-use food gloves are conveniently disposable so you can just throw them away after use. Latex-alternative disposable gloves (such as nitrile or vinyl) or often used in food handling due to possible latex allergies.  The most popular food handling glove is made from Polyethylene. These low cost gloves are perfect when you need to change gloves often and need light protection.

General Purpose Disposable Gloves

General Purpose Disposable Gloves are just that. Used in many industries and shops to keep hands clean and protect against chemicals and more. General purpose disposable gloves are available in latex, nitrile, chloroprene, and vinyl. Each material has unique features (covered below). Use general purpose disposable gloves for light duty cleaning, painting, maintenance work and more.

Disposable Glove Materials

Latex Gloves

Durable latex gloves are great for a variety of uses across medical and industrial applications. Latex gloves come in a variety of sizes, with powdered and powder-free options. Powder helps with easy donning of the gloves.

Latex gloves are more elastic than nitrile and more puncture resistance than vinyl. Latex gloves naturally offer excellent chemical resistance.  Using latex gloves is not recommended if you have a latex allergy.

Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile is a synthetic version of latex. Nitrile disposable gloves have higher puncture and chemical resistance than other materials. Nitrile offers great protection against punctures, cuts, and snags. Nitrile gloves are often used in medical applications and procedures for these reasons.

Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl disposable gloves are a good alternative for those allergic to latex gloves or dislike other types of gloves. Great for single-use applications.  Exam Grade Vinyl Gloves are ideal for protection in a wide range of medical applications. Food Service Vinyl Gloves are often used in catering, food handling, and food prep. Vinyl gloves are available with or without powder for easier donning.

Polyethylene Gloves

The lowest cost and least protective type of disposable gloves are polyethylene gloves. These are ideal however for food handling, catering, and other food industry related applications. Polyethylene single use gloves keep your hands clean and offer basic contamination protection.

Do You Need Sterile Disposable Gloves?

Medical and Exam Disposable Gloves are available in sterile options. Sterile gloves are also used in cleanrooms and controlled environments. If you are doing work where any possible type of contamination is a worry, opt for sterile gloves. Sterile gloves are sterilized and come in sealed packaging to maintain freshness and sterility.

Powdered Disposable Gloves

Disposable gloves are made of different polymers including latex, nitrile, and vinyl. They come un-powdered, or powdered to lubricate the gloves, making them easier to put on the hands. Again, if contaminates are a concern, opt for powder-free disposable gloves. However, for other applications, powder makes the gloves much easier to wear and change out.

If you have any questions or can’t quite decide what type of glove you, please give us a call and we’ll be glad to assist you in your selection!

Choosing the Right Disposable Gloves

Employers are required by law to provide their employees with acceptable personal protective equipment (PPE). This is to ensure the employees’ safety and minimize potential risk.

PPEs should be utilized in conjunction with a controlled work environment to complement each other and act as the final barrier between a hazardous chemical and an employee.

Gloves are a major part of personal protective equipment, but the sheer number of options can be daunting.

Below, we will break down the specifications of each glove type.


1. Latex Gloves 2810W-glove

Many consider Latex Gloves to the be industry standard. It provides the highest level of touch sensitivity and dexterity allowing an extreme level of precision. Latex provides an optimal barrier against infectious material and biological contaminants.

  • Natural Material made from rubber
  • Comfortable, tight fit providing a normal level of touch sensitivity
  • Wearable for an extended period of time
  • Cost-effective
  • Strong, elastic, and puncture resistant




2. Vinyl Gloves 2910w-gloves

An ideal choice for those seeking latex-like attributes, but are allergic to latex itself. Vinyl gloves are designed with a loose fit making it more comfortable than latex. While still being extremely comfortable for long term use, vinyl gloves are designed more for short-term activities.

  • Less-expensive than latex gloves
  • Slightly loose fit, suitable for short-term tasks
  • Easy to put on
  • Medium-duty glove
  • Effective temporary barrier against biological contaminants




3. Nitrile Gloves duraskin-nitrile---2010w-glove

A latex-free glove that provides superior strength and protection. It’s level of dexterity and touch sensitivity is slightly below latex. Nitrile gloves are excellent for highly demanding jobs due to its resistance to puncturing.

  • Highest quality latex replacement
  • Synthetic material, allergy-free
  • Naturally resistant to oil
  • Puncture-resistant, highly durable
  • Medical, food, and industrial applications




4. Polyethylene Gloves lbfh-pe-gloves

A low-cost, temporary barrier between hands and a material. Often used in the food service industry due to its cost-effectiveness. They are easily put on and taken off thus are perfect for temporary and short-term uses.

  • Loose design
  • Ideal for food prep
  • Light-duty glove
  • Most economic option




5. Chloroprene Gloves 2011W-gloves

Offering the fit and feel of latex, they are still a 100% synthetic formulation (latex-free). They are more puncture resistant than latex while providing superior protection against corrosive chemicals. It offers an incredible grip in both wet and dry environments.

  • More elastic than vinyl
  • More puncture resistance than both vinyl and latex
  • Suitable for medical, industrial, and laboratory applications






The type of glove used depends on what level of protection is needed. Generally, thicker gloves provide greater chemical resistance even though thin gloves can be made to be as strong as their bulkier counterparts.

Gloves can be purchased in either powder or powder-free options. The power is usually USP cornstarch and acts as a lubricant in the donning process. This powder, through its reaction with latex, can cause latex allergies. This is where powder-free latex gloves and latex-free gloves come into use.


Medical gloves, otherwise known as examination grade gloves, are designed around the quality requirement of the FDA. Originally intended for hospital settings, they have seen use in other fields where a higher degree of protection is required.

The food service industry uses gloves designed for short-term use, such as the polyethylene material. Gloves are an essential piece in minimizing cross-contamination.

Industrial gloves are not regulated by any US government agency, however, the American Society for Testing and Materials does set standards which our gloves conform to.


Gloves in general typically last 3 years from the date of manufacture, if stored properly. Disposable gloves should be stored in their original packaging, away from extreme temperatures, and excessive dust, sunlight, and moisture.


Browse our Disposable Gloves section here.

Harmony Business Supplies