The Difference In LATEX, NITRILE, and VINYL Gloves

Despite our best efforts to remain as clean and germ-free as possible, it can be difficult to prevent ourselves from touching things—doorknobs, railings, handles, tabletops, among others—that have already been touched by other people. Many conscientious individuals have chosen to wear gloves when they venture outside, and employers now provide protective gloves to workers who are frequently interacting with customers and clients. The terms “latex” and “vinyl” and “nitrile” probably sound familiar, but what’s the actual difference between these types of gloves?

Here’s a shorthand guide to get you started:

NitrileSynthetic material; mimics rubber$$$Chemicals, viruses
LatexNatural rubber$$Bacteria, viruses
VinylSynthetic material$Chemicals

Latex Gloves  

Latex gloves provide ample elasticity, durability, and freedom of movement. They’re stretchy enough to give your hands necessary dexterity, and they fit securely over your hands to prevent bacteria or toxic residue from touching your skin. These qualities make latex gloves extremely useful to medical professionals, so you might notice latex gloves more often in your doctor’s office or local Urgent Care. 

The main downside to latex gloves is the risk of rubber allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American, “Less than 1% of people in the US have a latex allergy. Although latex allergy is rare, the condition is more common in certain high-risk groups.” All this means is that if you happen to be buying in bulk for your company, there’s a chance that a small percentage of your employees are allergic to the protective equipment you purchase. 

If allergies happen to be a concern for you, then consider the alternatives:

Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile gloves boast all of the same advantages of latex gloves without potential allergy complications. They look and feel like rubber, stretching easily and comfortably around your hands while simultaneously protecting against any external threats to your skin and general health. Because of the heightened quality of these gloves, their manufacturing costs tend to be higher overall and consequently more expensive. 

Nitrile Gloves are a worthy expense, however, particularly if you’re interested in the highest possible quality of protection in your disposable gloves. But there are further options for those looking for a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative.

Vinyl Gloves 

Vinyl gloves are occasionally referred to as “synthetic” gloves, and they’re the preferred glove type of food-handlers, sanitary workers, and gardeners. These gloves provide better protection against chemical substances, and vinyl’s non-irritating material feels lighter and softer on the skin. Vinyl gloves are also 100% recyclable, making them the most environmentally safe option on the market. 

Latex and nitrile gloves are definitely more suited for medical settings, but for general daily activities, vinyl gloves are ideal.