Different Types of Disposable Gloves

Paul P.

Different types of disposable gloves

Disposable gloves are considered an essential item not only in the healthcare and medical field but also in different industries. These gloves are designed and engineered not only to protect the wearer but also set a precedent of hygiene and care across the industries that use disposable gloves.

If you’re in the market for disposable gloves, then this article is for you. Today, we break down the different types of disposable gloves to help you find the right one that suits your needs.

Let’s start with latex gloves.

Latex gloves

These gloves have been synonymous to disposable gloves. They rose to popularity in the 1980s and the 1990s and were considered as the industry standard. Many industry professionals promoted the use of latex gloves as a means of protecting medical workers against bloodborne pathogens like HIV — a virus that was prevalent (and was a hot topic) at that time.

Latex gloves are made from a biodegradable material that came from the latex ducts of rubber trees. And while there are a lot of new developments in terms of synthetic materials used on disposable gloves, latex still stands to be one of the most elastic, durable, and flexible disposable glove materials.

These gloves come in a wide variety of thickness that affect its elasticity and durability. Likewise, it does offer different textures that can be used depending on the intended purpose.

Like most of the disposable gloves in this list, latex gloves are used in a wide variety of applications including medical, dental, industrial use. It is also used in food preparations as many restaurants and food businesses move to the use of eco-friendly biodegradable products.

However, as latex gloves grew in popularity, so did the cases of allergic reactions associated with it. Symptoms may include itchiness, stuffy or runny nose, and difficulty of breathing. That said, the demand for latex glove alternatives became high.

Which brings us to…

Vinyl gloves

Vinyl gloves are disposable gloves made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a petroleum-based film. They are a great alternative to latex gloves because they do not cause allergic reactions to those that are sensitive to latex. In addition, they are cheaper to manufacture which makes them an appealing alternative. Plus, they boast a longer shelf life than latex gloves, which may break down when stored for prolonged periods of time.

However, vinyl gloves offer only a decent level of protection and are considered a less durable option. When vinyl gloves are stretched, the individual molecules separate which compromises the integrity of the disposable glove. That said, its ability to protect the wearer against chemical or biomedical exposure is relatively low compared to latex gloves. Recent environmental awareness campaigns also caused many companies to take a closer look at vinyl gloves because of its potential environmental impact. Fitting may also be an issue with vinyl gloves and may give the wearer limited dexterity and tactile precision.

Nevertheless, it’s one of the most sought-after disposable gloves because of its low costs. And because its ability to protect you is not as good as other single-use options, they are often seen worn by industry professionals who work in non-hazardous and low-infection environments.

If you’re looking for an affordable disposable glove, vinyl gloves are a great choice — as long as chemical exposure and protection from microorganisms is not an issue.

Nitrile gloves

For those who want a more durable option but are allergic to latex, nitrile gloves make for a great choice. These disposable gloves are made from nitrile butadiene rubber. It’s a synthetic material that’s durable, pliable, and offers a longer shelf life.

Nitrile gloves are three times more resistant to tear and perforation than latex gloves. However, when punctured, nitrile gloves are known to tear completely. Nevertheless, they offer superior protection against a lot of harmful and hazardous materials.

In terms of fit, nitrile gloves are comparable to latex. It’s also more resistant to oils, fats, solvents, and chemical solutions. That said, it’s the prime choice of those who are working in laboratories and those in the chemical industry, photochemical industry, agricultural industry, meat industry, and medical industry.

Nitrile disposable gloves are also known for their ability to break up electrostatic charges and contribute fewer particles that may contaminate your work environment. Furthermore, it has the ability to tolerate high temperatures which make it an ideal option for those who work in the automotive industry.

They came into prominence as a leading alternative to latex gloves in the 1990s.

The aforementioned options are just some of the most popular disposable gloves today which you can commonly find online and other DIY stores. However, there are also some less popular disposable glove options on the market. Below are a few.

Neoprene gloves

Neoprene disposable gloves are known for their water-resistant properties, that’s because they are made from materials used in scuba diving wetsuits. Because of how well they tend to resist liquid components, they are used as gloves for painting, handling chemicals, or for hair salons that are working with dyes. They can also tolerate high temperature levels like nitrile gloves.

Downsides to using neoprene gloves include poor flexibility, sweating of hands, and a slight uncomfortable feeling after prolonged use.

Polyisoprene gloves

Disposable Polyisoprene gloves share a lot of commonalities with latex gloves. However, these gloves are not made from biodegradable materials, but from synthetic components. And because they are not made from the same raw material as latex gloves, they will not have the same allergic effect. You get to enjoy the features latex gloves have to offer like elasticity and durability without the annoying allergic effects.

The only catch is that Polyisoprene gloves aren’t exactly easy to find, and if you manage to see one, chances are they are expensive. They may also result in dry hands.

Disposable gloves classification

When selecting from these different types of disposable gloves, it pays to know the current standard and classification of these products. Currently, they are categorized into two: industrial and exam.

Industrial-quality disposable gloves are the ones intended for industrial use. They are made durable and are made to withstand and display high levels of protection against chemicals and hazardous materials. They are also made to have the ability to protect the wearer from minor physical injuries like burns and punctures. That said, they are used in industrial applications.

On the other hand, exam-quality disposable gloves are often used in the medical field. They are designed and developed to protect the wearer from biohazard materials as well as to give the patient they are attending to, some level of protection and comfort. They are the choice of medical practitioners who carry out medical procedures because of their high levels of flexibility and dexterity allowing doctors to handle instruments with precision.

Knowing the different types of disposable gloves can help you find the right gloves for your needs. To make selection and making an informed decision easy for you, we’ve made a quick spec sheet of each type of disposable glove including its pros, cons, and who’s it for.

Latex gloves


  • Planet-friendly, biodegradable
  • Offers a high degree of touch sensitivity
  • Flexible and stretchable
  • Offers high level of protection
  • Durable and dependable
  • Comfortable and convenient


  • Can cause allergies
  • Does not have a long shelf life

Who's it for?

  • Medical practitioners
  • Auto body technicians
  • Security and police investigators
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Laboratory employees
  • Child and elderly care providers

Vinyl gloves


  • Cheap and inexpensive
  • Does not cause latex allergies
  • Offers long shelf life
  • Does not break down overtime
  • They are anti-static


  • Not form-fitting
  • Non-biodegradable
  • Does not offer high protection from chemicals
  • Does not offer high protection from biohazards
  • Does not offer high tactile precision
  • Can cause some environmental issues

Who’s it for?

  • Gardeners and outdoor workers
  • Cleaners and janitorial service providers
  • Beauticians and makeup artists

Nitrile gloves


  • Highly flexible
  • Long shelf life
  • Highly resistant to puncture
  • Resistant to oil
  • Offers protection from chemicals and hazardous materials
  • Comfortable and convenient
  • Does not cause allergic reactions


  • Non-biodegradable
  • Will break completely when punctured
  • More expensive than latex and vinyl

Who is it for?

  • Medical practitioners
  • Auto body technicians
  • Security and police investigators
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Laboratory employees
  • Child and elderly care providers
  • Food industry workers

Final words

Understanding the key differences of each type of disposable gloves allows you to make better decisions when buying these products. Whether you’re buying them for personal use or if you’re buying them on behalf of your organization, knowing what separates these disposable gloves from each other can help you in making an informed decision.

And when you are going to shop for disposable gloves online, make sure you buy from one of the most trusted brands on the market — Shamrock Gloves. We’ve been one of the leading manufacturers of medical and industrial gloves creating products that answer the needs of a wide variety of industries for a wide range of customers.

Enjoy high-quality disposable gloves made for all your needs when you shop from the best disposable glove company, Shamrock Gloves.

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