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Welcome to Glove Academy

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.

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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.

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Materialback 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.