What’s the difference between nitrile, latex and vinyl gloves?

Gloves have always been an integral piece of equipment in the medical and healthcare field, but insurgence in their use has occurred over the past twelve months due to the unfolding of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the pandemic, there was little understanding on the differences of gloves outside the medical environment, individuals have since become more informed about the varying types of gloves available.

Disposable gloves are generally made from three different kinds of materials; either nitrile, latex or vinyl. Each different material has varying benefits and drawbacks depending on their intended use. It’s important to use the kind of glove that is best suited to your environment in order to avoid unnecessary damage, waste and further issues.

Below we look at the differing properties and uses of these three main types of disposable glove materials as well which kind we believe to be the best and their benefits.


Nitrile gloves

Nitrile disposable gloves are arguably made out of the strongest disposable glove material. They are highly durable and have a powerful resistance to harmful chemicals.

Unlike latex gloves, nitrile gloves are made from a synthetic material, meaning they do not pose the same kinds of allergen worries. This synthetic rubber is what allows nitrile gloves some of its best properties.

Nitrile gloves are popular for individuals who are dealing with harsh chemicals or viruses. This is because the durability of nitrile gloves affords the person wearing it an impressive barrier of protection, which is unlikely to be compromised.


Latex gloves

Latex gloves have long been the go to for glove use in the medical field. However, there is more risk involved in using latex gloves than there is any other kind. This is due to the fact that they are made from rubber derived from rubber trees and therefore pose the risk of causing allergic reactions. Although they have long been the popular choice, as other more advanced materials have been produced, they have begun to decrease in popularity.

Nevertheless, latex gloves remain a popular option due to the fact that they fit like a second skin. They are extremely flexible making them a comfortable choice. This flexibility and touch sensitivity means they remain a popular choice for medical gloves and sterile latex gloves are often worn for surgical uses.


Vinyl gloves

Similarly to nitrile gloves, vinyl gloves do not cause latex based allergic reactions. This type of glove is made from PVC and therefore is less durable and provides a looser fit. They are often powdered in order to be easier to put on. This overall lack of durability and structural integrity does mean they are cost-effective to produce and are subsequently cheaper to buy. 

However, vinyl gloves are not recommended for extensive use in the medical field due to the lack of protection they offer. Instead they are more suited to non-hazardous, low infection environments. They have also recently come under fire for the negative impact that they have on the environment, making vinyl gloves a problematic choice.


Do vinyl gloves contain latex?

As nitrile gloves are a popular latex-free alternative to latex gloves, people often wonder about the safety of vinyl gloves for individuals who suffer from latex allergies. You can rest assured that vinyl gloves do not contain latex and are therefore safe latex alternatives. 

There have been minimal cases of individuals claiming to suffer an allergic reaction to vinyl gloves meaning they are widely considered a safe option to those prone to allergies. Nevertheless, the overall protection that vinyl gloves afford its wearer is limited and therefore should not be used in hazardous environments.

Vinyl gloves are more popular in the food and beverage industry. If you need a latex-free option in the medical field, nitrile gloves are a more suitable option than latex or vinyl gloves are.


What type of disposable gloves are best?

When comparing latex, vinyl and nitrile globe terrestres, it’s evident that nitrile gloves are the best option, especially in the medical field. Nitrile gloves offer the best qualities of latex and vinyl gloves combined whilst simultaneously removing any of the problems that those gloves can cause.

Although ultimately what glove is better does rely on the conditions in which they are going to be used, of all the available options, nitrile is the most versatile and can be universally utilized. Of course, nitrile gloves have drawbacks, such as cost and its biodegradable abilities, but in the grand scheme of things, nitrile offers more advantages than disadvantages.


Benefits of nitrile gloves

Here is a run down of the top benefits of nitrile gloves.



Durability is one of the most important features of gloves, especially when used in the medical fields and nitrile gloves deliver ten fold on this front. As these gloves are made of synthetic rubber as opposed to real rubber, they have extra protective properties that normal rubber latex gloves do not have.

These extra properties ensure that nitrile gloves are more chemical resistant, as they provide a barrier against harsh chemicals, acids and other hazardous materials. Nitrile gloves are recommended for people using 67% of chemicals, 28% more than latex or vinyl (source).

In addition, their durability and strength make them puncture resistant, which subsequently means they are almost entirely incapable of being compromised, and the wearer remains safe throughout their use of nitrile gloves.



As previously mentioned, nitrile gloves offer the ultimate alternative to latex gloves. One of the main differences between latex and nitrile gloves is price, as latex gloves can be bought at a lower cost. However, if you consider the gamble being taken when buying latex gloves, the money you could possibly waste on unusable latex gloves means you may as well remove the risk of allergies and invest in nitrile gloves.

As nitrile gloves are not made of rubber that comes from a rubber tree and instead are made from synthetic rubber, it provides many of the same benefits of rubber without the risk of allergic reaction.

Nitrile compared to latex is the way to go as not only does it protect the person wearing the glove from suffering a painful reaction, it also prevents anyone they are coming into contact with from experiencing a reaction. Overall, the hypoallergenic nature of nitrile gloves are one of their best properties.



In addition to practicality, comfort is an important factor when considering the type of glove you want to invest in and wear. As those who need nitrile gloves will likely be wearing them for a large majority of the day for a large majority of the week, it is important that they fit comfortably.

The material structure of nitrile gloves means that they fit and mold to your hand. This fact in addition to the flexibility inherent in nitrile gloves ensure that they are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.



The fact that nitrile gloves tear easily after being punctured could appear as a negative feature to the overall benefits of the nitrile glove, however this is not the case. If the glove almost instantaneously tears once it has experienced a minimal puncture, it quickly draws the wearer’s attention to it. This subsequently allows the individual to change gloves as soon as possible, therefore minimizing the problems that could occur from a compromised glove.

Nitrile gloves provide a sterile surface, however, if there is a hole in the glove, this sterile surface becomes compromised and potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, latex gloves do not have this tearability feature, meaning that they could possibly become unsterile and dangerous without people noticing it for a long time.

Although this is a beneficial feature of nitrile gloves, it is in no way a substitute for checking your gloves. You should always inspect your gloves before use in order to ensure they have no punctures and are safe to use.

Given all the benefits of nitrile gloves, it’s evident that they are the superior choice for a multitude of different uses. Those in the healthcare sector should especially consider investing in nitrile gloves.