Latex gloves offer excellent protection in a variety of applications across a broad range of industries. From medical practice to industrial implementation, many professionals wear latex gloves for protection and safety. Moreover, it gives every individual an extra layer of defense against harmful viruses and unwanted pathogens.
That said, there are many latex gloves on the market and choosing one can be challenging. So, we’ve looked into what industry professionals have to say to come up with a list of how to choose the best latex gloves, whether they’re for professional or daily use.
But first, let’s look at what latex gloves are and what they’re typically used for.
What are latex gloves?
Arguably the most popular type of disposable gloves, latex gloves are made with a biodegradable material originating from the latex ducts of rubber trees. And despite the development of many synthetic materials, latex is still considered the most elastic, resilient, and form fitting glove material. This gives its wearers unparalleled levels of dexterity, tactility, and comfort.
Disposable latex gloves became popular—in the medical industry—in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming the golden standard when it comes to protection against bloodborne pathogens, like HIV. However, because of the benefits and advantages of using latex gloves, many industries have adopted its use.
Today, latex gloves see utilization in hospitals and dental clinics, child and senior care institutions, food processing and food service businesses, janitorial and sanitation operations, as well as automotive and manufacturing companies. And during the peak of the pandemic, even those who are leaving the safety of their homes have started to don these disposable gloves for protection against bacteria and viruses.
Latex gloves have since then been produced in a variety of thickness making it durable enough to withstand tears and punctures. They come in powdered, lightly-powdered, and powder-free varieties. The powder inside latex gloves is cornstarch-based and aids in easily wearing the gloves on your hands.
Overall, latex gloves are versatile and offer decent protection while maintaining flexibility and practicality. But not all gloves are made equal, that’s why you need to find one that fits — literally and figuratively. Here are a few things to consider before you start shopping.
At some point, every latex glove on the market will boast some level of quality that they claim will put them a cut above the competition. However, there are two categories of disposable gloves by today’s standards: industrial and exam. Here are their differences.
Industrial latex gloves
As the name implies, industrial latex gloves are designed and engineered for industrial and commercial use. These gloves are designed and engineered for the handling of chemicals and solvents making it ideal for industries that deal with hazardous and harmful solutions. That said, you often see industrial latex gloves worn by automotive painters, janitorial staff, as well as professionals that require some level of protection and chemical safety.
That said, they are better known for their ability to provide the wearer protection and avoid direct contact from unsafe materials.
Exam latex gloves
Otherwise called medical-grade latex gloves, exam latex gloves are often used in hospitals and medical facilities because they were developed with sterility and cleanliness in mind. And while they do protect the wearer from biohazards and other potentially dangerous substances, they also protect patients from any form of contamination during examinations or medical procedures.
Furthermore, exam-grade latex gloves are made and rigorously tested to meet specific guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Color is also an important factor industry professionals look into when buying latex gloves. Glove color can help differentiate latex gloves for sorting and categorization. And while they can be had in an assortment of colors, industrial-quality latex gloves typically come in black while medical-grade ones come in white or blue.
The darker achromatic hue befits industrial-quality latex gloves because of the application they are used for. Tattoo parlors deal with an assortment of colors and a black-colored glove can hide the mess allowing the artists to focus on the tattoo. In the same way, using black latex gloves suit automotive companies because of the dirt, grease, and oil, mechanics work with on the daily.
On the other hand, those in the medical field who carry out medical procedures that require the utmost attention make use of white and other light-colored latex gloves. It lets them see contaminants and other substances that they need to avoid when dealing with patients. Tears and ruptures are also easier to notice in a pair of light-colored latex gloves.
3. Glove size.
Another important thing to consider when choosing the best latex glove is size. The size of the glove affects not only comfort but also its durability.
As an example, one can fit a small pair of latex gloves—although with a little restraint—because of its elasticity. But because the actual glove is already stretched thinly, whatever ability it has to withstand tear and perforation can be compromised. In the same way, a large-fitting glove can fall off one’s hands and can increase the chances of accidental exposure to harmful materials and the risk of one’s skin unnecessarily penetrated.
That said, it’s important to find a glove that fits. However, different manufacturers will have different sizing standards that may be affected by race, region, and its target market. It’s best that you visit a manufacturer’s website or request for an email containing an attachment detailing their sizing chart. You can also request samples if you’re buying latex gloves in bulk.
4. Grip and sensitivity.
A latex glove’s ability to provide grip and sensitivity may depend on the given task. When using the disposable gloves for handling and working with small objects, a latex glove that provides high levels of grip and texture is important. Similarly, those that shop gloves for use in wet and damp environments require a glove that provides high tactility and sensitivity. Depending on the manufacturer, your options may include: smooth, finger textured, full textured. In addition, different gloves come in either low, medium, or high grip.
Those working in the food industry as well as those working in laboratories typically use textured gloves. Conversely, those who work with children and the elderly may prefer smooth latex gloves as it does not get in the way of patient care and will not make the patient feel uncomfortable. Grippy gloves are great for industrial and commercial applications while smooth-surfaced ones are ideal for caregiving.
Many disposable gloves, like latex gloves, come in various thicknesses. Thicker gloves will be more durable and resilient to damage but can be harder to work with as they may not provide the same level of elasticity and flexibility as thin gloves. That said, thin gloves offer impeccable stretchability. They’re also lighter in weight and can easily be stored in one’s pockets if need be.
Not all gloves are easy to get into. Ease of use and donning can be affected by many factors including the inner treatment of the glove, size and shape of the glove versus the hands wearing it, as well as the strength of the glove and the materials.
Inner treatment in the use of different materials to aid the wearer in donning the gloves. As we’ve briefly covered above, powdered varieties are treated with a cornstarch-based powder which reduces friction when wearing the latex gloves. On the other hand, those that are powder-free still undergo inner treatment, usually in the form of polymer coating or single chlorination. Inner treatment is important because latex gloves that are difficult to wear increase the chance of tear and rupture, cause unnecessary waste of time, and even promote cross-contamination.
Powdered gloves—both regular and lightly-powdered variants—can also help absorb a small amount of moisture, but may leave a relatively small amount of residue in the process.
7. A trusted name.
Finally, when buying latex gloves, make sure that you put your money on a trusted name — like Shamrock Gloves. Companies that have their names to uphold follow a strict standard in manufacturing their products and will not risk damaging the brand they took years to establish. Compared to “generic” and unbranded products that you’re not even sure were checked and tested.
And if you can’t purchase directly from the manufacturer, make sure you do business with a trusted retailer, whether it’s online or through a brick and mortar shop. You will be using these latex gloves as a means of protecting yourself from the elements or as a means of protecting your patients. Do not compromise safety and buy only from a trusted brand.
Knowing what to look for when buying latex gloves gives you a clear idea of what to buy. It’s true that the market is filled with a slew of latex glove products, but knowing what to look out for ensures that you make an informed decision before you make that purchase.
So, may this be your guide when you shop for your next box of latex gloves.