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Guide to Glove Selection

 Find the Right Disposable Glove for the Job 

Disposable gloves developed because of needs in the medical industry, where the tool matured and refined into what we know today. In recent years, attention has expanded to include disposable gloves for industrial safety applications, such as automotive repair, food processing and service, and janitorial/sanitation. Exam gloves however, have found many uses beyond medical and dental offices, such as tattoo, piercing and beauty salons.

The industrial market is the fastest-growing sector, with nitrile glove improvements, such as raised diamond texture and heavy-duty thickness, being important game changers. Vinyl provides a versatile, economical alternative, but offers a lesser degree of protection. Latex is the former industry leader that has slipped in popularity over concerns about allergies.

As awareness for worker protection needs spreads around the globe, and demands for safer operation conditions increase, the disposable glove business will continue to experience increasing levels of growth.


Choose the Right Material 


Nitrile gloves are stronger than latex or vinyl, with three times the puncture resistance, plus more abrasion and chemical resistance, than latex. Additionally, they have a longer shelf life than natural latex rubber.

These gloves have the fit, feel, and comfort of latex, without the allergy concerns.

Preferred for automotive, manufacturing, janitorial, plumbing, painting, chemical, industrial, and food processing uses. Nitrile gloves are manufactured in industrial and exam grades.


Superior dexterity, comfort, and fit are the standout traits of latex gloves. It offers the highest elasticity, resilience, flexibility, and tactile sensitivity.

Concerns over latex allergies have reduced its popularity. Likewise, potential reactions range from skin irritation to anaphylaxis, a possibly life-threatening condition. Therefore, more organizations are opting for nitrile to avoid this risk. A number of states have banned its use in food contact. 

Washing the gloves in a chlorinated solution during manufacturing can reduce latex proteins. Latex gloves are manufactured in industrial and exam grades.


Vinyl gloves have a smooth texture with a roomy fit that is looser than latex or nitrile. They are the lowest puncture resistance, but the most economical, of the three materials.

These lightweight gloves deliver dependable barrier protection against most cleaning solutions and common chemicals. They are not recommended for harsh or petroleum-based chemicals.

A value-forward option for applications where frequent glove changes are required. Popular in food service, janitorial, and beauty & salon use. Vinyl Gloves are manufactured in industrial and exam grades.

Choose the Right Thickness 

Glove thickness is usually expressed in mils. Gloves of 3 mils or less are suited for jobs that do not require strong protection from chemicals or hazardous materials. Gloves in the 5- to 6-mil range are dependable for a variety of applications, from cleaning and janitorial use to heavier automotive or industrial needs involving tools and machinery. Gloves 8 mils and above are rated for heavy-duty use.


Choose the Right Grade 

Gloves are inspected and rated for either industrial or medical and exam use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating gloves by their minimum barrier protection, strength, and Acceptable Quality Level (AQL), the latter being related to the product’s freedom from pinholes during water testing. A lower AQL number represents a higher-quality—and more expensive—exam-grade glove. Exam gloves may be used for industrial applications, but not vice versa.


Align with Your Job & Budget 

For lightweight applications such as janitorial, food service, beauty & salon, or automotive detailing, 3-mil gloves are usually sufficient. Thinner gloves cost less but are better suited for frequent glove changes. Nitrile and latex gloves cost more than vinyl, which offers great value.

For medium-weight applications such as industrial use or working with tools and machinery, gloves in the 5- to 6-mil range are appropriate. They are more durable and offer stronger barrier protection.

Heavy-duty applications, such as automotive repair, require gloves of 8 mils or thicker. These gloves often come with raised diamond texture for improved grip, and the thickness. Meaning fewer rips or tears, these gloves are made for extended durations of use. Due to the durability users normally go through fewer gloves over the course of a shift.

Glove Selection Chart

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