Types of Disposable Gloves – Latex, Nitrile, Plastic, Rubber & Cotton

The list of activities that involve the risk of exposure to hazardous materials seems to grow longer every day. As this exposure grows, the role played by disposable gloves, which allow for a single or limited use, takes on increasing importance.

Disposable gloves, whether they are lightweight, like disposable latex and plastic gloves, or somewhat heavier, such as disposable nitrile gloves, are often the first line of defense against serious health risks to a worker. In fact, Princeton University has noted that when working with blood or bodily fluids, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and eye protection is “proven to be the single most effective precaution to avoid exposure."

Medical settings are just one of the environments where disposable gloves are essential. In many workplaces, the handling of chemicals or other dangerous substances will often require the wearing of single use gloves. Workers in a huge range of industries, from postal workers to factory workers and law enforcement officers, need to make sure their skin is protected from objects or potentially harmful substances that they handle, and gloves are often the first line of defense.

Disposable gloves play a special role in protecting health. Single or limited use of a glove allows the wearer to put on a clean, perhaps sterile glove every time it is needed. Possible contamination of a glove is made less likely by frequent changing.

Today, disposable gloves are available in a wide range of materials to suit many different needs. For lightweight work or work that requires the wearer to have the utmost hand flexibility, thin disposable latex or plastic gloves may be the answer. If latex allergy is a concern, lightweight disposable nitrile gloves are going to be a better option. For activities that demand stronger gloves, perhaps where punctures or tears are of concern, then disposable rubber or nitrile gloves may be called for. In situations that don’t require an impervious material, disposable cotton gloves may be a good choice.

No matter what the task, there is likely to be a glove that offers crucial protection, and it is not always just the wearer of the glove who needs protection. Disposable plastic gloves are common in many settings, such as food service, where the objective is to keep bacterial infection out of the food supply. Disposable cotton gloves are often used in delicate work such as electronics where it is necessary to keep skin oils away from a fragile product.

In every case, whether to protect the wearer or a customer, or even a product, single use gloves play an increasingly important role. When in doubt, it’s wise to err on the side of caution and wear disposable gloves rather than risk infection, injury or product damage.