What are the different types of disposable gloves and the difference between industrial and medical grade “DISPOSABLE “ gloves?

Disposable gloves are a crucial supply to have in many industries and types of work. They are an essential everyday item for people working in the medical and healthcare sectors to keep their hands clean and safe. Gloves are also frequently used in the food industry in every step of the food preparation process to prevent food contamination and for hygienic purposes. Furthermore, you likely use gloves when doing everyday chores at home, such as washing the dishes, scrubbing the floor, and the like. 


The above examples only highlight some of the scenarios wherein you will encounter the use of disposable gloves. In reality, however, there are so many more uses of disposable gloves, making it essential that you select the right type based on your purpose.  


Types of Disposable Gloves


Different types of gloves are suitable for various purposes, so it will help to familiarize yourself with them before choosing one. The thickness of the gloves is usually measured in mils, with 1 mil measuring 0.001 inches. Generally, the idea is that the thinner the glove, the more dexterity you get. Thus, the thickness you choose will also depend on your desired application.


  1. Latex Gloves

Latex gloves are made from rubber and tend to be elastic, allowing for comfort in fit. They offer tactile sensitivity to enable any form of contact, as well as durable, so they can resist infectious substances and chemicals. Furthermore, latex gloves are made from a biodegradable material, so it promotes green practices. Overall, they are used in industries that require dexterity and steady movements, such as the medical and beauty industry.


Latex gloves come in a range of thicknesses. For example, those that are 4 to 5 mils thick are usually considered exam-grade and can offer a good range of motion. However, there are also thicker options that reach 8 to 9 mils and are more suitable for industrial applications, such as automotive and janitorial work.


  1. Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile gloves are another common option for many industries since they also have excellent tactile properties and offer a skin-tight fit. Aside from this, they have a strong resistance to puncture and can resist different types of chemicals. However, always err on the side of caution and check the resistance before using a pair. Nitrile gloves are also suitable for use in the medical and food industry, especially for people with latex allergies.


The general nitrile gloves are usually 4 mils thick. However, you may also find thicker options that range from 8 to 15 mils. The thickness you choose depends on your purpose. For industrial applications, for example, thicker nitrile gloves will be suitable to protect against hazardous substances. 8 mil gloves, on the other hand, work well for those who still need protection but also need more mobility and touch sensitivity.


  1. Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves are synthetic and latex-free, so they are also ideal for people with latex allergies. However, they do not offer resistance against chemicals and are thus more suitable for low-risk or quick jobs. They are commonly used in food preparation and one-time tasks such as procedures done in the hairdresser.


Like the other types, vinyl gloves can also be thin or thick. However, the common ones used in the food industry are about 3.5 mils thick for flexibility. One thing to be wary of is that even though vinyl gloves are suitable for food preparation, they should not be used when handling oily or fatty foods. The plasticizers in the gloves may evaporate into the oil of the food, which can lead to harmful effects.


  1. Neoprene Gloves

Neoprene gloves are ideal for heavy-duty purposes, though they do not necessarily fit comfortably to the skin. They are made with durable and sturdy material, so you can use them for a longer time, and they offer excellent protection against chemicals and hazardous materials. The most common use for this type of glove is for dishwashing and cleaning the kitchen.


Neoprene gloves can be as thick as over 20 mils, which means you may have less dexterity when handling them. However, its thickness also offers stronger protection against acids or harsh substances. Typically, gloves that are over 14 mils are considered reusable, so some neoprene gloves can still be kept after one use. 


  1. Polythene Gloves

Polythene gloves are light and thin, making them ideal for quick uses. They fit loose on the hands, so they are often used in food preparation steps like plating, quality check, and other quick procedures where you can easily slip some gloves on. However, its “oversized” fit makes it unsuitable for medical purposes since you have little touch sensitivity. 


Polythene gloves are usually about 1.25 to 2 mils thick since they are intended for a single-use and quick glove change. Since they are thinner than most other gloves, they do not offer good resistance against hazardous substances. 


Industrial-Grade vs. Medical-Grade Disposable Gloves


There is often the misconception that industrial gloves are more durable or better than medical gloves. However, this is not the case because both types of gloves were designed to suit different applications and thus cannot be compared to each other. 


  1. Medical Gloves

Medical-grade gloves, on the other hand, help protect the wearer from pathogens, contaminants, or bodily fluids. These gloves are approved by the FDA for non-surgical use in hospitals, laboratories, and other similar settings, and are usually labeled with exam-grade or medical-grade on the packaging. Medical-grade gloves go through rigorous testing by the FDA to ensure proper standards are met since it will be used for healthcare. 


  1. Industrial Gloves

Industrial-grade gloves help protect the wearer from exposure to chemicals or solvents, making them suitable for industrial applications. These applications include automotive, plumbing, painting, home use, sanitation, and many other tasks that require chemical and puncture resistance. 


Contrary to medical-grade gloves, they are not approved by the FDA, so they cannot be used for medical purposes. Thus, it is not necessarily true that industrial gloves are “better” for the medical setting since they do not meet the standards and requirements that are needed to be labeled as such.

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