What is Driving the Trend Towards Nitrile Disposable Gloves?

Articles | Monday, Feb 27, 2017

Want to learn more about the pros and cons of Vinyl, Latex and Nitrile gloves?

 Vinyl Disposable Gloves

  • Firstly Vinyl Disposable Gloves are really PVC Gloves. The very same PVC that is known to create large volumes of toxic chemicals when manufactured, like dioxin and vinyl chlorides.
  • A PVC glove contains approximately 50-60% PVC, the other 50-40% is made up of plasticizers that make the PVC soft enough to wear.
  • The most common plasticizer used in PVC gloves is phthalates DEHP this substance is currently under much scrutiny for its toxicity. DEHP has been banned from use in children’s toys around much of the world. Japan has even banned it from the use of food contact.
  • The use of Bisphenol and Benzisothiazolinone in the manufacture of PVC gloves is also known to cause allergic reactions and dermatitis with prolonged use.
  • Unlike Nitrile and Latex gloves the PVC glove molecules are not cross-linked leading to more holes in the glove film and high levels of bacteria and virus permeation.
  • Disposing of Vinyl gloves is also an ongoing problem. The PVC takes a very long time to break down (many decades), and if incinerated large amounts of toxic emissions are generated.
  • All the materials to make PVC gloves are non-renewables namely oil.

Wrap up; Vinyl Disposable Gloves are cheap to make and cheap to buy, but at a high cost to user health and the environment.

Latex Disposable Gloves

  • 8 - 17% of all US health care workers have Latex allergies* with users of Latex gloves in other industries experiencing similar reactions. 
  • High allergy rates mean if you use Latex gloves in your industry you will more than likely need to run two types of gloves for the same task.
  • Latex gloves can be difficult in donning without powder, and the powder adds to the skin irritation and allergy problems.
  • Latex gloves are made almost entirely from natural rubber (the rubber they make car tyres from), a raw commodity that is subject to large price movements.
  • Moderate chemical and puncture resistance is associated with Latex gloves meaning their principle market is the medical industry.
  • High levels of bio degradability and no issues with incineration for glove disposal. 
  • Worldwide sales of Latex gloves have been on a steady decline for the last six years.

Wrap up; the best application for latex gloves is medical with proven protection from bio hazards like bacteria and viruses, however the need for a second glove alongside remains inescapable because of allergies.

Nitrile Disposable Gloves

  • Carry a very low allergy rate of less than 1% of users, and even then Accelerator Free Nitrile gloves are available now to lower the allergy rate further to negligible. 
  • Nitrile gloves have been historically more expensive than Latex, however over the last few years Nitrile has been on par with Latex, and just recently even a little cheaper.
  • Historically Nitrile gloves have not had the level of “stretch” that is associated with Latex gloves but over the last few years the introduction of “Soft Touch Nitrile” has closed the gap between Nitrile and Latex to a minimal difference.
  • Nitrile gloves can easily be donned with or without powder.
  • High chemical and puncture resistance along with the same level of bio hazard protection as Latex gloves.
  • Nitrile gloves bio degradability is almost as good as Latex.
  • Nitrile glove use around the world is up 10% a year every year because of the fore mentioned features. 

Wrap up; Nitrile disposable gloves can be used in almost any industry, with few to nil allergy issues for about the same cost as Latex gloves with no real down side.

To Powder or Not To Powder?

Powder in disposable gloves is largely a historical leftover whose only purpose was to enable the user to don gloves so they didn’t break. This was essential when the only glove you could buy was Latex, but now unless you have wet hands every time you don a pair of gloves there is just no need for this irritant to be in the glove. This is particularly true for Nitrile gloves because they are so much stronger than Latex and Vinyl and require no powder at all.


The ongoing use of Vinyl gloves is a short-sighted decision for both the user and the environment, especially when there are some great alternatives in Nitrile and Latex at minimal to no additional costs.  

Although Latex will continue its strong use in the medical field for some time yet, the use of Nitrile disposable gloves across all market sectors worldwide will continue to grow strongly in the coming years due to the strong features and minimal drawbacks of Nitrile material.