Non-latex gloves: Nitrile vs. vinyl vs. neoprene vs. latex 

Biodegradable and replaceable gloves are indispensable items in any healthcare and chemical environment. They offer a much-needed protection layer from potential exposure to threats and dangerous viruses. They aid in setting a model of hygiene across the different lines of industries.

It isn’t a secret that while all types of gloves offer protection for the purpose they were created, they are not manufactured equally using the same procedures and materials.

Distinct materials and pattern choices create products better matched for different industrial environments. Ordering the inexact type of glove best suited for the industrial field you’re working in often dissipates valuable resources. The risk of exposure to potential threats exceeds the value of the resources lost, as your health may also be jeopardized.

Why?

Any misuse of resources results into:

  • Punctures
  • Rips
  • Tears

Those present an exponential risk once exposed to harmful elements, like when you’re powder coating.

There are a few types of materials used to create disposable gloves:

  • Nitrile
  • Latex
  • Vinyl

I will cover the main aspects of what makes the different types of gloves different from one another. It includes which purposes they serve according to the environment they were designed for.

Here’s everything you need to know on the topic of non-latex gloves, whether it is nitrile, vinyl, or neoprene.

Types

Latex

Latex gloves were invented in 1894 by William Stewart Halsted to aid medics in their daily surgeries. At the time, William created the latex gloves for his wife so that she may prevent any infection during her performances.

They are the most recommended to prevent the infection with viruses of the body parts involved during interventions. As the popularity of this material increased, so did the incidents of allergic reactions triggered by it.

Because of the high rising cases of allergic reactions, the demand for latex-free disposable gloves rose. There’s an alternative for those allergic to the material as nitrile and vinyl gloves started to be manufactured.

To those unaffected by the highly-allergic material, latex remained a comfortable option that suits best the cost required to be manufactured. The material often offers a high touch sensitivity, making it the best for the medical field.

Outstanding qualities of latex gloves are:

  1. A high level of touch sensitivity
  2. Remarkable flexibility
  3. Strong level of protection
  4. Extremely comfortable 
  5. Disposable

Of the above-mentioned, latex gloves are the primary tool used in any medical field.

Vinyl

vinyl exam gloves

Vinyl is manufactured with raw synthetic materials such as PVC ( Polyvinyl Chloride ), a petroleum-based film.

Its main feature is the manufacturing cost, making it less durable than other materials. Because of the cheap materials used, vinyl provides limited protection against any exposure to viruses and chemical exposure.

vinyl glove

It is essential to take into consideration the integrity of the material. The slightest stretch of the material may compromise the integrity of the molecules, separating them from the protective barrier.

The poor and threatening materials have raised questions over time about whether they should be allowed further use.

Remarks to be made:

  1. Poor quality materials
  2. Inexpensive to manufacture
  3. Limited protection against bacteria and chemical exposure 

Of the above-mentioned, vinyl gloves are the primary tool used in the food industry and low-risk health infection environments such as cleaning jobs and manufacturing.

Nitrile

nitrile glove box

Nitrile resulted from two brilliant men, Neil Tillotson and Luc De Becker. They put together a strong formula manufacturing technique that was first invented in 1980 but was perfectioned and finalized in 1990.

They were created as a response and alternative to those that presented allergies to latex materials. Although they are not as flexible and stretchy as their counterpart alternative, nitrile gloves base on durability and repelling chemicals. They are the number one choice for protection against chemicals and potentially threatening bacteria.

Some outstanding qualities of nitrile include:

  1. Remarkable durability
  2. Excellent protection against chemicals 
  3. Disposable
  4. Decent flexibility
  5. Puncture-resistant

Nitrile ones are best used in medical fields by those that want a more substantial level of protection and a solution to the allergy reactions caused by latex.

Neoprene

neoprene glove

The great chemist researcher Arnold Collins developed and discovered the material in 1930.

Neoprene is a synthetic rubber material that offers extraordinary waterproof preservation against various chemicals and fluids.

neoprene gloves on light background

The material’s popularity has maintained its interest, especially in the industrial and manufacturing fields. Because of their strong durability, they are necessary for heavy-duty jobs that require sturdy protection.

Some of the formidable attributes of neoprene gloves are:

  1. Outstanding durability 
  2. Comfortable to wear
  3. Flexible
  4. Waterproof
  5. Superior grip
  6. Superior resistance to chemicals
  7. Latex-free
  8. Affordable price

Neoprene ones are best used in heavy-duty jobs that require a strong layer of protection. It can be helpful in most industries, including the medical field.

I’ve included a table below to highlight and summarize the most important perks of each material and the best areas of industries that use them.

TYPESLATEXVINYLNITRILENEOPRENE
MATERIALLatexPolyvinyl chlorideAcrylonitrile ButadienePolychloroprene Rubber
CHARACTERISTICS+ Remarkable Flexibility – Contains allergenic materials+ Inexpensive to manufacture
+ Remarkable Durability + Latex – Free – Decent Flexibility+ Outstanding Durability + Degradation resistance + Withstands chemical mixtures
PROTECTION LEVELS+ Excellent protection against viruses and bacteria
– Poor oil, fat, and hydrocarbon protection
Poor quality materials
– Limited protection against bacteria and viruses
+ Superior Puncture and cut resistant
+ Protection against a wide variety of chemicals
+ Excellent erosion resistance
+ Outstanding resistance to the majority of oils and solvents, including mild acids
USAGE AREASIn the medical field, general house chores, cleaningIn the food industry, low-risk environmentsChemical handling in the medical fieldIndustrial chemical processing, Some medical fields

Based on the characteristics mentioned above, we have some impressive usage of all types of gloves depending on the field of work. Each class is designed for specific tasks and purposes that need mending without the risk of exposing the human body to particular threats.

Each aspect will better determine if one of the glove types is a good fit for the tasks you need to perform. Depending on its benefits of resistance and cost of manufacturing, you may determine the suitable one.

You may have difficulty deciding which glove model is better than the other, as many manufacturers use different formulas when fabricating them. Making an assumption just by the type of material used is not recommended, especially when discussing our safety.

The best way to determine whether a specific model suits your needs is to always ask for details and recommendations from manufacturers and suppliers. Certain situations or liquids may not integrate into the protection category for that specific type of glove. The best case is to directly ask an authorized supplier to provide the best protection to your hands.

What is nitrile?

Nitrile stands for “Nitrile Butadiene Rubber” ( also called NBR ). It’s a combination of synthetic rubber copolymer and acrylonitrile/butadiene. The chemical process of obtaining the substance combines the two materials with hot or cold polymerization in a stainless steel vat.

The nitrile latex is filtered and combined with an antioxidant to stabilize the substance. The liquid is then added to coagulating chemicals to solidify it, followed by washing and drying processes. The resulting substance is known as “crumb rubber.” Manufacturers of nitrile-based products can liquefy crumb rubber to create nitrile rubber products, including gloves.

What is vinyl?

Vinyl was first created and developed to manufacture durable products that do not require substantial monetary investments. The materials already existent at the time were substituted by this “magical” versatile substance to enhance the overall quality of products.

Although it had a substantial impact in every industrial area, its presence was most observed in the construction industry.

We can’t say that it had the same impact on the gloves branch. Because of its usage and importance in industrial areas, development in the gloves branch had to impact the cost and use so that they could easily be replaced and disposed of.

What is neoprene?

Neoprene ( also called polychloroprene ) is a synthetic rubber material with strong liquid repellant properties.

It adds tremendous value to various industrial fields such as:

  • Phone and laptop cases
  • Clothing materials
  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Face Masks
  • Hoses
  • Gaskets
  • Impermeable accessories
  • Bluetooth speakers

Neoprene is part of the synthetic materials that add significant value to the products that can be crafted with it. The better part of it is that the material isn’t expensive, and it’s worth every dollar spent to make an addition to every significant product.

Although it comes with great perks of using the material, there are also downsides to the use of it. Neoprene isn’t usually regarded as eco-friendly due to the durable composition of the material. It doesn’t biodegrade at all. That should raise some questions, considering that 380 tons of it are being disposed of yearly.

What is latex?

The most straightforward response is that rubber is latex. Typically, it comprises roughly forty percent rubber and fifty-five percent water.

You may be surprised to think of latex as an artificial material, given the strength and unnatural feel of many of its final products.

The truth is that natural rubber latex does come from nature. Before it is processed, rubber tappers harvest latex from trees using a method passed down for generations.

What is PVC?

Polyvinyl chloride is part of the world’s top production of synthetic polymers of plastic. Classified in third place, roughly 40 million tons of polyvinyl chloride are produced during one year.

The natural color of this material is bright white. Prior to the addition of plasticizers, the material is fragile.

The material is typically produced in two structures:

  • Unplasticized polymer
  • Malleable plastic

Both forms have many great uses that contribute to the production of industrial goods.

The unplasticized polymer is often used in:

The malleable plastic version of the material is often squishy and prone to flexing. Because of that, it has proved helpful in constructing and padding essential structures.

What is PVA?

Polyvinyl Alcohol is a synthetic polymer best known for its strong molecule structure. Its substance form is made up of synthetically vaporous hormones, identical to the ones found in the plants that bear fruits. The chemical transformation process involves dissolving the substance in alcohol to later result in a water-soluble polymer.

PVA has plenty of uses for textile products that need a certain degree of grease and oil repellants.

Polyvinyl alcohol is often mistaken for a product that dramatically endangers the environment. It is a non-toxic solution based on biodegradable polymer.

Products with polyvinyl alcohol in composition present more robust toughness towards chlorinated solvents, petroleum solvents, and aromatics.

Differences between nitrile and vinyl gloves

There are some notable differences between the composition and usage of both materials.

Nitrile ones are far more durable than vinyl ones. Because of its superior material composition, it also comes at a significant price.

Flexibility and durability are the most noticeable features that differentiate the two materials. Due to that fact, vinyl gloves present a lower sensitivity. The simplest squeeze may cause the material to come apart and destroy the fabric.

The glove’s permeability is slightly less handleable during manufacturing, thus decreasing protection against nitrile gloves when contact with liquids or chemicals is performed.

Vinyl gains an advantage over nitrile regarding allergens that can cause hypersensitive reactions in contact with skin.

FAQ

Is nitrile latex free?

Nitrile is also commonly referred to as NBR latex. In truth, it contains no trace of latex proteins. However, most products contain accelerator chemicals that can convey a low allergy rate in a handful of users.

Some studies have proved the apparition of allergy in users that came in contact with chemical accelerators and other additives existent in nitrile gloves.

What are gloves normally made of?

The most commonly used form of material is latex. It also seems to be the oldest form of material used. Studies had concluded that the properties of latex were used as early as 1600 BC, taking approximately the same amount of years before surgical gloves started to be used.

It also seems to be an ordinary choice to opt for. Given the opportunity to count all of the great uses of the product, it is used in every typical household and business.

Do vinyl gloves contain latex?

Vinyl gloves are latex-free, providing a clear advantage for those exposed to the allergens present in the material.

That makes them the favorite choice in plenty of the labor factories because of the safety feeling they offer.

Every allergen the employees may potentially come in contact with is deemed a potential risk that needs to be avoided and eliminated if possible.

Choosing the safest option from the beginning is often the optimal solution to avoiding healthcare risks.

What is nitrile made of?

Nitrile is a form of synthetic rubber developed in laboratories. Due to its complete synthetic composure, it is often classified as a type of latex without the existence of allergens.

The most complicated synthetic fabrication process is needed to create nitrile because it combines two different synthetic rubber polymers. A thin, elastic synthetic latex is made during the combining process and then shaped into nitrile gloves.

Are vinyl gloves safe?

Vinyl gloves are viable and safe to use in some industrial environments. The answer varies based on your response to this statement. If the surroundings of your work area are in a non-complex endangering environment, vinyl is a suitable option for you.

What are nitrile gloves best for?

Nitrile is best known for handling dangerous and corrosive chemicals that put your hands at risk. Due to that fact, they are best suited for all medical surroundings.

When should you not use nitrile gloves?

Although known to handle most corrosive chemicals, there are some exceptions that you should take notice of before handling some potentially dangerous materials.
Some of these known materials that are not handled well by nitrile gloves are:
Aromatic solvents
Ketones
Acetates

What are some non-latex gloves?

There are a variety of models that use non-latex components. Most of them have been named throughout this article. Let’s recapitulate some of them:
– The cheaper version of non-latex disposable gloves are made of vinyl materials
– The more expensive versatile alternative is nitrile materials
Each category comes with its benefits and downsides. It would be best if you always weighed the advantages and considered the environment in which you will perform.

Conclusion

There are always many options to choose from, especially when it concerns the individual safety of your skin.

Regardless of the price needed to procure the type of gloves you will further use in your work environment, you should always opt for the most beneficial according to your needs. 

I was hoping you could consider the bits of advice I have pointed out throughout this article and choose the best option that will benefit you.

Safety first, always!