In the world of disposable gloves, many different material types are available. Each type has its own unique properties and applications. As a supply clerk, it's important to understand the differences between them and select the right glove for your needs.

Here's a breakdown of the most common materials used for food-grade gloves

Latex Gloves

Latex gloves are made from natural rubber and are the most popular type of glove used in medical settings due to their superior flexibility and comfort. However, the downside is that they do not offer adequate protection against certain chemicals or solvents.

Additionally, while people are not born with an allergy to latex, some may develop one after repeated exposure to latex. Some states have even decided to ban latex glove use in both food and healthcare settings. 

Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile gloves are made from a synthetic rubber polymer. They have similar strength and durability to latex gloves but do not contain any natural rubber proteins, making them ideal for people with latex allergies or sensitivities. Nitrile gloves also offer better protection against harsh chemicals than latex gloves, making them a great solution for medical professionals and tattoo artists who come in contact with blood and other bodily fluids, as well as mechanics who work with harsh chemicals.

Polyethylene Gloves

Polyethylene gloves, like TPE disposable gloves, are made from a lightweight plastic material offering excellent dexterity and minimal skin irritation compared to other glove types. However, they provide limited chemical resistance and should only be used for light-duty tasks where chemical exposure is not an issue, like food prep.

Polyethylene gloves are typically available in two options: CPE and TPE disposable gloves.

  • CPE disposable gloves. Cast polyethylene (CPE) gloves are lightweight, durable, and stretchy, which is a perfect combination for the food industry.
  • TPE disposable gloves. Thermoplastic elastomer or TPE disposable gloves are food-grade gloves, like CPE gloves, but are better fitting. They also have a slight texture to help increase your grip, which is important in food preparation.

Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves are made from a synthetic plastic material called PVC (polyvinyl chloride). They offer good dexterity and comfort but can tear easily compared to other materials such as nitrile or latex. Vinyl gloves also provide limited chemical resistance and are not recommended for use with strong solvents or detergents.

When deciding which type of glove is best for your application, it's important to consider factors such as chemical resistance, strength, durability, comfort, and dexterity levels to decide which glove will meet your team's needs best. Supply clerks need to be aware of all these material types in order to ensure safety and order the right type of glove.