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What disposable gloves should you use for your workplace

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In the face of the current global pandemic, there has been an increased focus on reducing the spread of germs and keeping a clean environment. Minimizing the spread of infection and disease is not new, but with the increased attention and awareness of our contact with others, it is increasingly important to know as much as possible about what we are using to protect ourselves and others.

Glove Material – (Latex, Vinyl, Nitrile, Poly)

In general, gloves of latex, vinyl, and nitrile are all manufactured in industrial and exam grade, available powdered or powder-free. Exam-grade option is usually adopted by medical use, whereas industrial-grade gloves are broadly used in automotive, food service, janitorial and different industrial environments. To choose the right gloves you should mainly consider the chemicals and puncture you will come into contact with, the grip you need, the fit and comfort preferred, and your budget.


  • The most elastic, adaptable, and consistent-fitting glove available;
  • While you can purchase both unpowdered and powdered options, powdered latex gloves have been prohibited for medical use in the United States since 2017;
  • Most popular in the medical, automotive, janitorial, and printing industries;
  • Latex gloves have better puncture resistance than vinyl, but not as good as nitriles.


  • Fit is looser than both latex and nitrile providing a more comfortable fit;
  • Eliminates the concern of latex allergies and avoids the petroleum properties present in nitrile;
  • More economical than nitrile which is also made from synthetic materials;
  • Popular in food service and food processing industries as it is an economical option especially for applications where frequent glove changes are required.


  • Stronger than latex or vinyl, but with the fit and feel of a latex glove; the material conforms to your hand based on your body temperature;
  • Has three times the puncture resistance of latex, along with more chemical and abrasion resistance;
  • Able to withstand mineral oils, vegetable oils, grease, gasoline, diesel fuel, and many acids;
  • Does not aggravate any latex allergies which is important for both the wearer and the person being treated by wearer;
  • Popular for automotive, manufacturing, janitorial, plumbing, paint shop, chemical, and industrial uses; comply with FDA regulations for food contact so also well-suited for food-processing
    Shelf life is longer than that of latex rubber gloves.


  • The most affordable material of glove that is primarily used in the food service industry;
  • Best used for activities of short duration and without need for much grip;
  • Made in industrial grade only and are void of any powder and latex;
  • These gloves are not impervious to liquids and are generally a looser fit allowing the entry of materials and chemicals.

The Difference between Food Service, Medical, and Industrial Gloves

Whether in industrial settings involving harsh chemicals, in the back of a kitchen handling food, or medical applications with potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens, gloves’ primary requirement is that the users’ hands are protected. The United States Food and Drug Administration is required to put exam-grade gloves through a series of tests and safety requirements before they can hit the open market. These gloves are tested for puncture and abrasion resistance, tension and elongation, and checked for their overall chemical resistance. Whether or not a glove passes is based on an acceptable quality limits test (AQL) set by the Food and Drug Administration.


AQL is a method that applies to a group of gloves rather than just one individual. If you have 100 gloves being tested with an AQL of 3.0 then only three of the gloves can fail the test to be approved. The biggest difference between an industrial grade glove is their AQL number is higher than a medical-grade glove. For a glove to pass medical standards then it must be tested and pass a test with an AQL of 1.5, whereas industrial standards are set at 3.0. Another difference is that some groups of gloves that narrowly fail a test can still be permitted to be used industrially, whereas in medical applications they will still be restricted. For food service grade gloves, the USDA has regulation on the glove material but not on the manufacturing process of the gloves. Since there is no minimum on AQL rating the main regulations for food service gloves is placing accountability on employers to make sure that their employees are using their gloves correctly.

The Importance of Thickness and Texture

Glove thickness is measured in mils. Glove protection goes up as mils go up. Gloves that are 3 mils or less are meant for jobs requiring less protection from hazardous chemicals or materials. Gloves rated 8 mils or more are generally used for more heavy-duty applications and continue to get much more specialized in the use of the glove. There is a direct correlation between glove thickness, material, and chemical resistance. Thicker gloves result in more chemical resistance, but they are more expensive to make and buy. It is important to fully understand how much exposure to hazardous chemicals yourself or your employees are facing when considering how thick a glove to purchase.


Another big concern when putting on a glove is whether or not you will still be able to keep the same grip as you would barehanded. Picking out the right texture of your glove would help you maintain that grip. Gloves may be textured all the way around, on one side, or just on the fingertips. The more texture, the more grip it is that simple.


Four Types of Glove Textures:

  • Smooth: These gloves hold no texture and are usually made with vinyl. Smooth gloves are mostly used in the food service industry and through salon care due to the low need for precise grip.
  • Embossed: This is the lightest texture and is usually made from polyurethane. Embossed gloves are also used in the food service industry and are generally used for when a precise grip isn’t necessary but preferred.
  • Micro-Roughened: The surface of these gloves appears to be lightly sanded and is most often made from nitrile and latex. They are well suited for medical applications because of the better grip for holding small tools and objects, but not textured enough to agitate a patient’s skin.
  • Aggressive: This is the most intense level of texture for a disposable glove. The texture has channels between each raised diamond which allows liquids to pass through providing greater surface contact with the glove. This textured glove is most ideal for handling wet or slippery tools and objects.

Sizing your Hand

Your glove should wear like a shoe, snug, and comfortable. The less comfortable your glove is, the more likely it will tear or break. The less snug your glove is, the more likely the chemicals you are trying to keep out will get in. Like shoes, gloves may have different sizes, but the fit will change depending on the thickness, texture, and overall build. To measure your hand size you want to measure the width of your palm. Most glove size charts will work with inches but be prepared to convert depending on your location.

Moving Forward

Interested in acquiring safety and food service gloves for your place of business? CLEAN has developed a site dedicated to safety, health, and hygiene. If you have any questions about products and services outside of these items, do not hesitate to contact us!