Welcomeback to top
Get ready to embark on an educational journey filled with all the disposable gloves information you could possibly need to know. 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.
History of Disposable Glovesback to top
The first surgical glove was developed by the first surgeon in chief: Dr. William Stewart Halstead at John Hopkins Hospital in 1889. As he developed new surgical techniques, so came about the first rubber gloves worn during surgery.
They did not become sterile, however, until 1894, when Joseph Lister started using carbolic acid to sterilize his surgical instruments. Surgical gloves as we know them were not developed until 1965 when Ansell created the first disposable medical gloves.
In March 1992, 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 multi-billion dollar market.
Although disposable gloves were born in the medical industry, recent attention has shifted to the use of gloves in industrial segments. Workers in automotive, food service and processing, and janitorial-sanitation use 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 poly.
- Latex – Known for their excellent dexterity, comfort, and fit, this material is still the top choice for many end-users. They provide the best barrier protection against bloodborne pathogens but can do little to withstand 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 fitting, cost-effective alternative to latex.
- Nitrile – Because vinyl gloves fit loosely and cause end-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 they have superior resistance to petroleum-based chemicals.
- Poly– Made from polyethylene, poly gloves are used primarily in food service applications. They are thinner than a sandwich bag and are best suited to light-duty tasks.
There are two grades of disposable gloves: industrial grade and medical 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 a medical barrier. Industrial grade gloves do not require the same AQL as medical grade gloves but they may only be used 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 end-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 8 mils thick and rated for heavy-duty use.
Texture is a key consideration when selecting the right glove for your industry or application. There are four distinct textures available in our brands of disposable gloves:
- 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 between each raised diamond that allow liquids to pass through which enhances the user’s grip on slippery tools.
Color is a personal preference that varies between different 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 disposable glove manufacturing process:
- Powder – Powdered disposable gloves are coated on the inside with food-grade corn start to make it easier for them to go on and off, 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, which is a powder-free alternative to making the 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.
Chemical Resistance Chartback to top
|1,4-Dioxane, 99.9%||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Limited Use|
|2-Butoxyethanol||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|2-Ethoxyethanol||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Acetaldehyde, 99.5%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Acetic Acid||Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Acetone, 99.5%||Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Acetonitrile, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Acrylic Acid, 99%||Recommended||Limited Use||Not Rated|
|Ammonium Fluoride, 40%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Ammonium Hydroxide, 85%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Amyl Acetate, 100%||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Limited Use|
|Amyl Alcohol, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Aniline, 99%||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Limited Use|
|Animal Fats||Not Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Aqua Regia||Not Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Benzaldehyde, 99.5%||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Benzene||Not Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Benzyl Chloride||Limited Use||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Bromopropionic Acid, Sat.||Recommended||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Butane||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Butyl Acetate, 99%||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Recommended|
|Butyl Alcohol, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Butyl Cellosolve, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Butyrolactone, 99%||Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Rated|
|Calcium Hypochlorite||Not Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Carbolic Acid||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Recommended|
|Carbon Dichloride||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Carbon Disulfide, 99.9%||Limited Use||Limited Use||Not Recommended|
|Carbon Tetrachloride, 99%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Castor Oil||Not Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Cellosolve Acetate, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Cellosolve Solvent||Recommended||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Chloroacetone||Limited Use||Not Rated||Not Recommended|
|Chloroform||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Chloronaphalenes||Not Rated||Limited Use||Not Rated|
|Chlorothene VG||Not Rated||Limited Use||Not Recommended|
|Chromic Acid, 50%||Not Recommended||Limited Use||Recommended|
|Citric Acid, 10%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Cottonseed Oil||Not Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Creosol||Not Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Cunene||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Cutting Oil||Limited Use||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Cyclohexane||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Cyclohexanol, 98%||Limited Use||Recommended||Recommended|
|Di-Isobutyl Ketone, 80%||Limited Use||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Diacetone Alcohol, 99%||Limited Use||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Diamine||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Dibutyl Phthalate, 99%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Diethyl Ether||Limited Use||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Diethylamine, 99%||Not Recommended||Limited Use||Not Recommended|
|Dimethyl Acetamide, 99%||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Not Rated|
|Dimethyl Sulfoxide, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Dioctyl Phthalate, 99%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Epichlorohydrin, 99%||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Not Rated|
|Ethanol||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Ethyl Acetate, 99%||Limited Use||Limited Use||Not Recommended|
|Ethyl Alcohol, 90%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Ethyl Ether, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Ethyl Glycol Ether, 99%||Limited Use||Limited Use||Not Rated|
|Ethylene Dichloride||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Ethylene Glycol, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Ethylene Trichloride||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Rated|
|Formalin Solution||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Formic Acid, 95%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Freon TF, 99%||Not Recommended||Limited Use||Limited Use|
|Furfural, 99%||Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Gasoline, 100%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Heptane||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Hexamethyldisilazine, 97%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Hexane, 99%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Hydraulic Fluid- Ester Based||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Hydraulic Fluid-Petrol Based||Not Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Hydrochloric Acid, 38%||Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Hydrofluoric Acid, 48%||Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Hydrogen Peroxide, 30%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Iso-Octane, 99%||Limited Use||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Isobutyl Alcohol, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Isopropanol||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Isopropyl Alcohol, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Isopropyl Benzene||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Kerosene, 100%||Limited Use||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Lactic Acid, 85%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Lauric Acid, 36%||Limited Use||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Linoleic Acid||Not Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Linseed Oil||Not Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Maleic Acid, 100%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Methanol||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Methyl Acetate||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Rated|
|Methyl Alcohol, 99.9%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Methyl Cellosolve, 99%||Limited Use||Limited Use||Not Recommended|
|Methyl Chloride||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Methyl Ethyl Ketone, 99%||Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Methyl Isobutyl Ketone||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Methyl Methacrylate||Recommended||Limited Use||Not Recommended|
|Methyl-Butyl Ether, 99.8%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Methyl-T-Butyl Ether||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Methylene Chloride||Limited Use||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Mineral Oil||Not Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Mineral Spirits, 100%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Morpholine, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Muriatic Acid, 100%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|N,N-Dimethyl Formamide, 99%||Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|N-Methyl-2 Pyrrolidone, 99%||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Not Rated|
|Naphtha VM&P, 100%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Naphthalene||Limited Use||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Nitric Acid, 10%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Nitric Acid, 70%||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Limited Use|
|Nitrobenzene, 99%||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Nitromethane, 95.5%||Not Recommended||Limited Use||Not Recommended|
|Nitropropane, 95.5%||Recommended||Not Recommended||Not Rated|
|Octyl Alcohol, 99%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Oleic Acid, 99%||Limited Use||Recommended||Recommended|
|Oxalic Acid, 12.5%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Paint Remover||Limited Use||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Palmitic Acid, Sat.||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Pentachlorophenol, 35%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Pentane, 98%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Perchloric Acid, 60%||Limited Use||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Perchloroethylene||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Perholffeum Ether||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Phenol, 90%||Limited Use||Limited Use||Limited Use|
|Phosphoric Acid, 85%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Potassium Hydroxide, 50%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Printing Ink||Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Propyl Acetate, 99%||Limited Use||Limited Use||Not Recommended|
|Propyl Alcohol, 96%||Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Propylene Oxide||Not Recommended||Not Rated||Not Rated|
|Pyridine, 99%||Limited Use||Not Recommended||Not Rated|
|Rubber Solvent, 100%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Rule Solvent||Not Rated||Recommended||Not Rated|
|Sodium Hydroxide, 50%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Sodium Hypochlorite||Recommended||Limited Use||Recommended|
|Stoddard Solvent, 99%||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Recommended|
|Sulfuric Acid, 95%||Recommended||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Tannic Acid, 37.5%||Recommended||Recommended||Recommended|
|Tetrachloroethylene, 100%||Not Recommended||Not Recommended||Recommended|
|Toluene Di-Isocyanate||Not Recommended||Not Rated||Not Recommended|
|Toluene, 99%||Not Recommended||Limited Use||Not Recommended|
|Trichloroethylene||Limited Use||Recommended||Not Recommended|
|Tricresyl Phosphate, 90%||Not Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Tung Oil||Not Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Turbine Oil||Not Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Turpentine, 100%||Limited Use||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Vegetable Oil||Not Recommended||Recommended||Limited Use|
|Xylene||Not Recommended||Limited Use||Not Recommended|