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Glove Academy

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Get ready to embark on an educational journey filled with essential information about disposable gloves. This page quickly overviews the history of disposable gloves and the key differentiators so you can make the best glove decision for your application or industry. Throughout the Glove Academy, you will see opportunities to take your learning to the next level. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Take advantage of the additional resources linked within this page. Finally, our blog has specific articles on every aspect of disposable gloves.

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History of Disposable Glovesback to top

The first surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Dr. William Stewart Halsted developed the first surgical glove in 1889. His inspiration was his nurse Caroline Hampton, who later became his wife. She suffered severe skin irritation from the chemicals that surgeons and nurses were expected to tolerate barehanded.

Surgery did not become sterile, however, until the 1890s, when Joseph Lister began using carbolic acid to sterilize wounds and surgical instruments. Later that decade, Werner Zoege von Manteuffel of Estonia started the practice of boiling rubber gloves to sterilize them between surgeries. Surgical gloves as we know them were not developed until 1965, when Australian company Ansell created the first disposable medical gloves.

In 1991, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) published its Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requiring employers to provide personal protective equipment to workers who come into contact with bodily fluids. This standard is what propelled the disposable glove industry into a multibillion-dollar market.

Although disposable gloves were born in the medical industry, recent attention has shifted to the use of gloves in industrial applications. Workers in automotive, food service and processing, and janitorial-sanitation wear disposable gloves to protect themselves and their customers from a variety of hazards. In the next section, we will cover the six key characteristics that define disposable gloves today.

Glove Characteristicsback to top


There are four materials most commonly used in the manufacturing of disposable gloves: latex, vinyl, nitrile, and polyethylene.

  • Latex – Known for its excellent dexterity, comfort, and fit, this material is still the top choice for many users. Latex gloves provide the best barrier protection against blood-borne pathogens but are ineffective against petroleum-based chemicals.

  • Vinyl– Due to the rise of latex allergies, end-users demanded an alternative to latex disposable gloves. Vinyl gloves are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and are a loose loose-fitting, cost-effective alternative to latex.

  • Nitrile – Because vinyl gloves fit loosely and cause users to experience hand fatigue, a better latex alternative was developed. As body heat warms nitrile gloves, they conform to hands for a comfortable fit. Nitrile is more durable than other disposable glove materials and offers superior resistance to petroleum-based chemicals.

  • Poly– Made from polyethylene, poly gloves are used primarily in food service. They are thinner than a sandwich bag and are best suited for light-duty tasks.


There are two grades of disposable gloves: industrial grade and medical, or exam, grade. The difference lies in the rigorous safety tests a batch of disposable gloves undergoes after manufacturing. If more than three gloves in a batch fail the acceptable quality limits (AQL) set by the FDA, then the entire batch cannot be sold as medical grade. Industrial-grade gloves do not require the same AQL as medical-grade gloves, but they may be used only for industrial applications. It is important to note that exam-grade gloves are not "sterile." Only surgical gloves, which have been irradiated, are considered sterile.


Glove thickness is usually expressed in mils. Thickness needs will vary among different industries and applications. For light-duty tasks that require tactile sensitivity, a 3-mil glove is appropriate. For most industrial applications, especially if users work with tools or machinery, gloves in the 5- to 6-mil range are preferred. For tough jobs such as replacing a transmission or working in a food processing plant, we recommend disposable gloves that are at least 8 mils thick and rated for heavy-duty use.


Texture is a key consideration when selecting the right glove. We offer four distinct textures:

  • Smooth – Gloves with no texture are frequently made from vinyl.

  • Embossed – A light texturing imprinted on poly gloves.

  • Micro-roughened – Used on most nitrile and latex gloves, this light texture provides a better grip on tools and small objects.

  • Raised Diamond – Available in our heavy-duty suite of nitrile industrial gloves, this texture has channels that allow liquids to pass through, which enhances the user’s grip on slippery tools.


Color is a personal preference that varies between applications and industries. Automotive technicians and tattoo artists, for example, prefer black gloves due to the professional look.

Different colored gloves can be helpful for color coding workers or processes. Some workplaces use color to differentiate sizes.

No matter the color, remember that the durability of a glove relies on thickness and texture. Even if black gloves look tougher, color does not affect durability.


There are four finishes that can be applied during the manufacturing process:

  • Powder – Powdered disposable gloves are coated on the inside with food-grade cornstarch to make it easier to change them, especially in moisture-rich environments. In January 2017, the Food & Drug Administration banned powdered latex exam gloves from sale in the United States.

  • Polymer coating – This inside-the-glove finish reduces surface friction so gloves slip on and off more easily.

  • Chlorination – Disposable gloves washed in a chlorine solution have a softer texture, comfortable feel, and go on and off more easily. Double chlorination is used in some gloves, especially thicker latex gloves, to make donning and doffing easier, because latex is a naturally tacky material.

  • Polyurethane – Vinyl gloves also tend to be tacky. This finish is used on vinyl gloves to reduce that tackiness and make them easier to put on and remove.

Glove Size Chartback to top

Chemical Resistance Chartback to top

Chemical Resistance Latex Nitrile Vinyl
Chemical Resistance Latex Nitrile Vinyl
1,4-Dioxane, 99.9%Limited UseNot RecommendedLimited Use
2-ButoxyethanolNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
2-EthoxyethanolNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Acetaldehyde, 99.5%RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Acetic AcidRecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Acetone, 99.5%RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Recommended
Acetonitrile, 99%RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Acrylic Acid, 99%RecommendedLimited UseNot Rated
Ammonium Fluoride, 40%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Ammonium Hydroxide, 85%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Amyl Acetate, 100%Not RecommendedNot RecommendedLimited Use
Amyl Alcohol, 99%RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Aniline, 99%Limited UseNot RecommendedLimited Use
Animal FatsNot RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Aqua RegiaNot RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Battery AcidRecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Benzaldehyde, 99.5%Limited UseNot RecommendedNot Recommended
BenzeneNot RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Benzyl ChlorideLimited UseRecommendedNot Recommended
BromineRecommendedNot RatedRecommended
Bromopropionic Acid, Sat.RecommendedRecommendedNot Rated
ButaneNot RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Butyl Acetate, 99%Limited UseNot RecommendedRecommended
Butyl Alcohol, 99%RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Butyl Cellosolve, 99%RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Butyrolactone, 99%RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Rated
Calcium HypochloriteNot RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Carbolic AcidNot RecommendedNot RecommendedRecommended
Carbon DichlorideNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Carbon Disulfide, 99.9%Limited UseLimited UseNot Recommended
Carbon Tetrachloride, 99%Not RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Castor OilNot RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Cellosolve Acetate, 99%RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Cellosolve SolventRecommendedRecommendedNot Rated
ChloroacetoneLimited UseNot RatedNot Recommended
ChloroformNot RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Recommended
ChloronaphalenesNot RatedLimited UseNot Rated
Chlorothene VGNot RatedLimited UseNot Recommended
Chromic Acid, 50%Not RecommendedLimited UseRecommended
Citric Acid, 10%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Cottonseed OilNot RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
CreosolNot RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
CuneneNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Cutting OilLimited UseRecommendedNot Recommended
CyclohexaneNot RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Cyclohexanol, 98%Limited UseRecommendedRecommended
Di-Isobutyl Ketone, 80%Limited UseRecommendedNot Recommended
Diacetone Alcohol, 99%Limited UseRecommendedLimited Use
DiamineNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Dibutyl Phthalate, 99%Not RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Diethyl EtherLimited UseRecommendedNot Recommended
Diethylamine, 99%Not RecommendedLimited UseNot Recommended
Dimethyl Acetamide, 99%Limited UseNot RecommendedNot Rated
Dimethyl Sulfoxide, 99%RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Dioctyl Phthalate, 99%Not RecommendedRecommendedNot Rated
Epichlorohydrin, 99%Limited UseNot RecommendedNot Rated
EthanolNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Ethyl Acetate, 99%Limited UseLimited UseNot Recommended
Ethyl Alcohol, 90%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Ethyl Ether, 99%RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Ethyl Glycol Ether, 99%Limited UseLimited UseNot Rated
Ethylene DichlorideNot RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Recommended
Ethylene Glycol, 99%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Ethylene TrichlorideNot RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Rated
FluorineRecommendedNot RatedRecommended
Formaldehyde, 99%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Formalin SolutionNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Formic Acid, 95%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Freon TF, 99%Not RecommendedLimited UseLimited Use
Furfural, 99%RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Recommended
Gasoline, 100%Not RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
HeptaneNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Hexamethyldisilazine, 97%RecommendedRecommendedNot Rated
Hexane, 99%Not RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Hydraulic Fluid- Ester BasedNot RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Recommended
Hydraulic Fluid-Petrol BasedNot RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Hydrazine, 65%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Hydrochloric Acid, 38%RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Hydrofluoric Acid, 48%RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Hydrogen Peroxide, 30%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
HydroquinoneRecommendedLimited UseRecommended
Iso-Octane, 99%Limited UseRecommendedNot Recommended
Isobutyl Alcohol, 99%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
IsopropanolNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Isopropyl Alcohol, 99%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Isopropyl BenzeneNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Kerosene, 100%Limited UseRecommendedLimited Use
Lactic Acid, 85%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Lauric Acid, 36%Limited UseRecommendedLimited Use
Linoleic AcidNot RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Linseed OilNot RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Maleic Acid, 100%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
MethanolNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Methyl AcetateNot RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Rated
Methyl Alcohol, 99.9%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Methyl Cellosolve, 99%Limited UseLimited UseNot Recommended
Methyl ChlorideNot RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Recommended
Methyl Ethyl Ketone, 99%RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Recommended
Methyl Isobutyl KetoneLimited UseNot RecommendedNot Recommended
Methyl MethacrylateRecommendedLimited UseNot Recommended
Methyl-Butyl Ether, 99.8%Not RecommendedRecommendedNot Rated
Methyl-T-Butyl EtherNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Methylamine, 40%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Methylene ChlorideLimited UseRecommendedLimited Use
Mineral OilNot RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Mineral Spirits, 100%Not RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Monoethanolamine, 99%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Morpholine, 99%RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Muriatic Acid, 100%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
N,N-Dimethyl Formamide, 99%RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Recommended
N-Methyl-2 Pyrrolidone, 99%Limited UseNot RecommendedNot Rated
Naphtha VM&P, 100%Not RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
NaphthaleneLimited UseRecommendedLimited Use
Nitric Acid, 10%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Nitric Acid, 70%Not RecommendedNot RecommendedLimited Use
Nitrobenzene, 99%Limited UseNot RecommendedNot Recommended
Nitromethane, 95.5%Not RecommendedLimited UseNot Recommended
Nitropropane, 95.5%RecommendedNot RecommendedNot Rated
Octyl Alcohol, 99%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Oleic Acid, 99%Limited UseRecommendedRecommended
Oxalic Acid, 12.5%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Paint RemoverLimited UseRecommendedNot Recommended
Palmitic Acid, Sat.RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Pentachlorophenol, 35%Not RecommendedRecommendedNot Rated
Pentane, 98%Not RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Perchloric Acid, 60%Limited UseRecommendedLimited Use
PerchloroethyleneNot RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Perholffeum EtherNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Phenol, 90%Limited UseLimited UseLimited Use
Phosphoric Acid, 85%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Picric AcidRecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Potassium Hydroxide, 50%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Printing InkRecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Propyl Acetate, 99%Limited UseLimited UseNot Recommended
Propyl Alcohol, 96%RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Propylene OxideNot RecommendedNot RatedNot Rated
Pyridine, 99%Limited UseNot RecommendedNot Rated
Rubber Solvent, 100%Not RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Rule SolventNot RatedRecommendedNot Rated
Sodium Hydroxide, 50%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Sodium HypochloriteRecommendedLimited UseRecommended
Stoddard Solvent, 99%Not RecommendedNot RecommendedRecommended
Sulfuric Acid, 95%RecommendedRecommendedNot Recommended
Tannic Acid, 37.5%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Tetrachloroethylene, 100%Not RecommendedNot RecommendedRecommended
Toluene Di-IsocyanateNot RecommendedNot RatedNot Recommended
Toluene, 99%Not RecommendedLimited UseNot Recommended
TrichloroethyleneLimited UseRecommendedNot Recommended
Tricresyl Phosphate, 90%Not RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Triethanolamine, 85%RecommendedRecommendedRecommended
Tung OilNot RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Turbine OilNot RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
Turpentine, 100%Limited UseRecommendedLimited Use
Vegetable OilNot RecommendedRecommendedLimited Use
XyleneNot RecommendedLimited UseNot Recommended