Nitrile vs PVC vs Latex vs Vinyl Gloves – what’s the difference between these 4 types of gloves?


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Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:31 am

Any healthcare setting must have disposable gloves on hand. They shield healthcare workers and patients from exposure to potentially harmful bacteria and support industry-wide standards of hygiene and care. You shouldn’t be surprised, but you might not have known that not all disposable gloves are made equal.

Certain items are better suited for specific medical situations due to different materials and design decisions. Additionally, ordering the incorrect kind of glove for your practice might result in resource loss and a higher chance of tears, rips, and punctures.

Nitrile, PVC, latex, and vinyl are the most frequently used materials to create disposable gloves. This blog post will discuss the differences between these gloves, along with advice on each style’s settings.

What are nitrile gloves?

Nitrile is a multipurpose elastomer, extensively used for its general properties such as high tensile strength, oil and chemical resistance, high puncture resistance, hypoallergenic qualities, and more. Gloves made from nitrile can protect against various hazards in industrial and medical applications. Nitrile’s adaptability allows for the construction of tactile-focused and heavy-duty synthetic rubber gloves. 

Nitrile gloves are offered in multiple styles, including examination, general-purpose, sterile, non-sterile, and chemo-related choices.

Advantages of Nitrile Gloves:

Due to their adaptability, businesses frequently choose nitrile gloves to provide for their employees. Nitrile gloves are becoming more and more popular due to a variety of benefits, including:

High abrasion resistance: High abrasion resistance and three to five times better puncture resistance than latex equivalents are both features of nitrile gloves. Nitrile gloves are chosen when there is a high exposure risk to bloodborne pathogens or infection because nitrile rubber is extremely puncture-resistant.

Greater chemical resistance: Nitrile rubber offers dependable resistance to chemicals, acids, and liquids derived from petroleum. This resistance applies to any fuels, hydraulic fluids, alcohols, oils, and silicone greases that employees could come into contact with in hazardous industrial settings.

Tactile sensitivity: Nitrile gloves provide adequate tactile sensitivity, enabling users to control instruments and processes precisely. Workers can retain an adequate level of skill while withstanding severe applications. Additionally, its decreased coefficient of friction makes wearing and doffing simple.

Disadvantages of Nitrile Gloves:

  • Nitrile gloves have a lower degree of tactile sensitivity than latex gloves, which is one drawback.
  • It costs more to manufacture synthetic nitrile rubber polymer than vinyl.

What are PVC gloves?

PVC (vinyl) gloves are typically used by janitors, housekeepers, and those in the food service industry as an alternative to latex for those with a latex allergy. In addition, the durability of PVC gloves varies relying on the work they are used for. The food service industry uses the lightest durability to prepare and serve food; the heaviest durability can handle.

Advantages of PVC gloves:

  • They are cheap prices.
  • easily add pigments.
  • it is available in bright colors.

Disadvantages of PVC gloves:

  • PVC gloves contain a high level of plasticizer.
  • heat volatile.
  • non-degradable.

What are latex gloves?

Despite introducing synthetic materials, latex remains the most elastic, robust, and form-fitting glove material. Latex is a biodegradable substance derived from the latex ducts of rubber trees and is the most common glove material. These characteristics make the wearer far more elegant, tactile, and comfortable, making these gloves ideal for medical, automotive, and food service industries.

Advantages of latex gloves:

  • Natural rubber is used to make latex gloves designed for accidental contact.
  • The fact that latex gloves are incredibly robust, flexible, and easy to wear is another useful advantage.
  • The fact that latex gloves are so tactile makes them one of their key advantages and a top choice for delicate tasks like surgery.
  • Latex gloves are a great choice when working with biological and water-based products.

Disadvantages of latex gloves:

As an allergen, latex has the disadvantage of causing responses ranging from dry, itchy, and irritated skin to severe allergic reactions like those caused by bee stings in some people. The usage of latex gloves might potentially result in latex allergy.

What are vinyl gloves?

Regarding chemistry and appearance, vinyl gloves are comparable to latex gloves. However, vinyl gloves employ synthetic chemicals in place of natural latex to make the rubber-like substance that forms airtight and waterproof barriers. They are, therefore, excellent for shielding delicate skin from various chemicals, such as acids, solvents, and cleaning products.

Vinyl gloves come in a variety of materials, hues, and dimensions. They are created in several methods, each of which has certain advantages. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is the generic name for the type of plastic used to make vinyl gloves. This substance is a synthetic (man-made) polymer utilized in various products, including wire insulation, pipelines, and medical equipment.

Advantages of Vinyl gloves:

Vinyl gloves are superior in look, thin and lightweight like latex gloves, and simpler to put on and take off than latex gloves. The following information will help you use them.

Affordable: Cheaper than nitrile and latex gloves, vinyl gloves are less robust and puncture-resistant than their equivalents. Vinyl gloves are, therefore, ideal for tasks where prolonged usage of the gloves is not expected or when frequent glove replacement is necessary.

Versatility: For a brief time, vinyl gloves are suitable for low-risk activities like mixing colors or making sandwiches. They are also excellent for general-purpose operations like cooking, cleaning, and many other jobs that call for the basic handling of commonplace items.

Latex-free gloves: You can use disposable vinyl gloves if you have a latex allergy. They don’t expose themselves to the allergy risks that come with natural rubber latex (NRL) gloves. These gloves come in various sizes and colors and are often less costly than latex-made ones.

Disadvantages of vinyl gloves:

  • Vinyl is the least suitable for producing gloves in terms of fabric or material. Vinyl is less resilient than latex or nitrile and less tactilely sensitive than other textiles or materials, which is the major cause of this.
  • Vinyl technology has improved in recent years, improving its comfort, toughness, tactile sensitivity, elongation/flexibility, and strength.
  • Vinyl is not a good choice when using most organic solvents and water-based solutions.

When should I use Nitrile, PVC, Latex, and Vinyl gloves?

Below are some of the primary uses of these different types of gloves,

Nitrile gloves:

  • In most facilities, nitrile gloves are the preferred option for medical examinations. Doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals value nitrile rubber’s long-lasting protection and puncture resistance.
  • When preparing, preparing, and serving food, nitrile gloves are a secure and reliable choice. Several areas of the food service industry now demand latex-free gloves to reduce the danger of an allergic response. Food-safe gloves made of nitrile are an option.
  • For various uses, nitrile gloves are beneficial in hair and beauty salons. Chemical-resistant gloves can help you avoid chemical sensitivity while applying hair bleach or color and keeping your hands clean. 

PVC gloves:

PVC or vinyl gloves are constructed of synthetic rubber plus a plasticizer to increase flexibility and wearability. They are created from polyvinyl chloride. For non-hazardous, low-infection conditions, these gloves are an affordable alternative.

  • PVC gloves are used in the pharmaceutical business for handling lab supplies and moving goods. They are also employed in the upkeep and cleaning of laboratories and equipment.
  • PVC gloves are used in healthcare institutions for cleaning and some minor exams. However, these gloves shouldn’t be utilized in surgical operations.
  • The food service sector regularly employs PVC gloves. They are used by chefs when chopping meat and cleaning vegetables and by other employees when picking up rubbish and washing dishes.

Latex gloves:

Whether they are latex gloves with powder or gloves without powder, latex gloves have long been a staple of the disposable glove market. Workplaces are becoming more aware of latex allergies.

Despite this, latex is still a preferred material for gloves due to its softness, stretchability, and tactile sensitivity. Due to this, latex is a preferred substance among a certain group: the medical sector.

  • Few materials can match the dexterity and tactile sensitivity of latex gloves for medical gloves. For jobs requiring precise accuracy, like surgery, this is crucial. Despite this, latex gloves are still often used by routine doctors. Even a routine physical examination requires tactile sensitivity, and latex gloves are unbeatable. 
  • Whether in the healthcare sector or somewhere else, professionals who need regular glove replacements likes latex. You would frequently require powdered gloves to offer the same degree of comfort as latex powder-free gloves.
  • Because of this, latex is also well-liked by those who work in laboratories. Natural rubber does rather well with the majority of biological agents. However, it fares poorly with certain solvents. 

Vinyl gloves:

Vinyl gloves are useful in a range of settings and professions. Vinyl gloves are typically used for handling food, cleaning, and mild medical applications like exams with limited exposure risk to bodily fluids.

You must instead spend money on a medical-grade glove if your line of work demands known interaction with hazardous chemicals. They cannot handle solvents used in industrial cleaning because they lack chemical resistance.

Vinyl gloves are a less expensive alternative to latex or nitrile and work well for low-risk operations needing sanitary protection.

Which is Better, Vinyl or Nitrile Gloves?

Identifying your unique requirements is crucial before selecting the best glove that best meets them. Nitrile gloves are probably better if you need a tough, long-lasting industrial glove that will shield you from cuts and abrasions. Vinyl is generally better if you require disposable gloves for cleaning up spills or handling food.

Nitrile is the ideal material for working with dangerous substances or in environments with a significant risk of infection. Vinyl is suitable for routine, low-risk tasks.


Dispos gloves offer a crucial barrier of protection between the skin and a chemical that can be toxic or contagious. Gloves are the primary line of defense against bloodborne diseases for healthcare professionals when caring for ill patients.

Since nitrile gloves are puncture-resistant and more likely to split if they break than other materials, even little tears or punctures will be recognized, and the contamination may be treated right once.

Latex gloves are a recommended protection in the medical sector against bloodborne diseases. They are created from thin latex rubber, making them incredibly flexible, bendable, and delivering remarkable touch sensitivity.

Gloves made of vinyl won’t hold up to repeated use. Unlike nitrile or latex gloves, which must provide a snug fit, they are often more loose-fitting. Vinyl gloves are made of polyvinyl chloride, often known as PVC, and are best used for cleaning operations and other jobs that don’t need the use of corrosive chemicals.

recommend reading: What Are The Different Types Of Disposable Gloves?

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