The Difference Between Nitrile, Latex, And Vinyl Gloves

Rohan Mathew

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Nitrile, Latex, and Vinyl are the most widely used gloves in the medical field. However, choosing between these gloves for medical or other use can be a bit tricky. This is due to the fact that each different material is suited to particular conditions.

So, what are the major differences between nitrile, latex, and vinyl exam gloves? This article explores factors setting these three types of exam gloves apart. Below we break them down for you one after the other: 

Nitrile Gloves 

Nitrile gloves’ popularity has increased exponentially since December 2019. These gloves are commonly used in hospitals, including emergency rooms, clinics, research labs, and the like. Like latex, nitrile exam gloves are made from rubber. They are different however because nitrile is a synthetic (non-natural) rubber. Latex allergies are fairly common, so nitrile gloves offer the strength and utility of latex without causing itching or allergic reactions for most wearers. 

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The biggest factor that sets nitrile gloves apart from others types of medical gloves is the synthetic rubber. Nitrile gloves are durable and like the other types of gloves mentioned here, offer high protection against pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.  

Studies have also shown that nitrile gloves have superior puncture resistance to latex and vinyl. In addition to this, nitrile gloves have a better fit and can under most conditions be worn for longer, in relative comfort without compromising safety. They also offer the user a high level of touch sensitivity through the synthetic rubber finger-tips. 

 Latex Gloves 

Latex gloves are also commonly used in hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms (ER), and labs. They have a similar protective capacity against viruses, germs, bacterial, pathogens, chemicals, and so on. Unlike the other two types of gloves mentioned here however, these gloves are 100% natural. Latex is made from rubber which is 100% natural. While this may sound nice in theory many people have latex allergies so this glove type is not always the optimal choice for bulk medical glove supplier purchasing. 

Since the advent of synthetic rubber nitrile gloves, the popularity of latex gloves has fallen. Over the last year the sale of all types of gloves has increased due to panic and widespread paranoia, however the popularity of latex has not kept up with that of nitrile or vinyl gloves. Despite this, latex exam gloves are comfortable, cost-effective, and fit like a second skin. They also offer a high degree of touch sensitivity. Latex gloves are often powdered for easy removal after use.  

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 Vinyl Gloves 

Vinyl gloves are common in the medical field, especially in low-risk hospital areas, labs, and for use when handling drugs. As the name suggests, these gloves are made from PVC material. One of the major factors making them popular is affordability. They are inexpensive, but with this comes limited protection. Vinyl offers lesser protection from chemicals and micro-organisms than the aforementioned glove types. 

This means they are not ideal for use in high-risk environments. This is why they are often used in handling drugs, food, or in low-risk settings like at a pharmacy. Vinyl gloves are latex-free, so they are not associated with allergies. They do however have a looser fit offer lower levels of touch sensitivity so are not ideal for use when dexterity or tactile precision are paramount.