Types of Gloves

Protection against contact with hazardous materials is important for health and safety. Many chemicals can cause skin damage or provoke allergic reactions. Some toxic chemicals can be absorbed through the skin. Skin can be damaged by friction or from extremes of heat. In biological work, skin contamination can lead to infection.

Given the wide range of work being done no single glove will meet the needs of everyone. Gloves must be selected on the basis of the materials being handled and the type of work undertaken.

Considering there are so many types of gloves available on the market, it can be very confusing as to which type of glove is best suited for your application.  So let's review the various glove types, materials, safety considerations and test ratings/standards as a first step:

Disposable vs Re-usable Gloves

Choices aheadDisposable gloves are thin, generally 101 - 202 microns thick. This allow the user to retain good touch sensitivity and dexterity but they have poor chemical resistance. They are designed to protect against incidental rather than intentional contact with chemicals and should be changed after any splash. They are designed for single use only and should never be re-used.

Disposable gloves are not suitable for handling some aggressive or highly hazardous chemicals. They provide little useful protection against physical hazards as they may easily tear or puncture if snagged.

Re-usable gloves are 457 - 711 microns thick. They offer greater protection than disposables against abrasion and other physical hazards, are less likely to tear in use and will resist chemical attack for longer. However, they interfere more with dexterity and touch sensitivity and may still be damaged or penetrated by many chemicals. They need to be looked after to prolong their usefulness.

Re-usable gloves usually have a longer cuff length than a disposable glove made with the same material and so offer better protection against liquid dripping over the top of the glove.

Care of reusable gloves – Re-useable gloves need to washed and dried after work to avoid accidental skin contamination when next putting the gloves on. This is especially important if the work has involved immersion or handling of chemicals that can permeate the glove material. If frequently re-used the gloves should periodically be turned inside out and the inner surface washed and rinsed off. Re-useable gloves should be inspected before each use for discoloration, cracking at flexion points or damage and should be discarded if found. They must also be discarded if the inside becomes contaminated.

 Incidental Contact vs Intentional Contact

Incidental contact refers to tasks where there is no intended direct contact with the hazardous material. Exposure will only occur through a splash or spill. Most types of disposable gloves can provide adequate protection provided that when they are used to protect against chemical hazards, they are changed immediately after a splash or spill occurs.

Intentional contact refers to tasks where contact with the hazardous material is inevitable e.g. immersing hands in liquids, direct handling of a substance rather than its container or handling of materials coated or saturated with the hazardous substance(s) e.g. a cleaning rag. There is therefore relatively lengthy contact with significant amounts of the hazardous substance.
When selecting a glove for protection against intentional contact with chemicals, it is necessary to select a glove made from a material that offers good resistance to attack or permeation from the specific chemicals in use. This will often require a reusable glove.

Cut Rated Gloves

Cut Rated gloves have been tested under the EN388 Gloves Standards which measure protection against risks such as Abrasian, Cut, Tear and Puncture.  In many industries, Cut Rated gloves are mandatory under Occupational Health & Safety regulations and must be worn at all times.  Learn more about the importance of Cut Rated gloves by viewing the Komodo® Vigilant Cut Hazard Management System where Cut Rated Gloves are manufactured in Hi-Vis colours, linking hazards and tasks with Hi-Vis colours to ensure compliance.

Glove Materials


Chloronite® New Material Technology

Latex (Natural Rubber)

Butyl Rubber

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) - Standard Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl - Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA)



EN Standards and what they represent

Please refer to the Glove Information Page for more information on EN Standards and the Pictograms that represent each.