Nitrile, Latex or Vinyl Gloves: What's the difference?

When looking for disposable gloves there are few different choices of materials including nitrile, latex and vinyl. It can be hard to know which one to choose, this article explains the difference between materials and the pro's and con's for each.


Nitrile gloves are often known as medical grade gloves, they are an ideal option where latex allergies are a concern. They are made from a synthetic rubber that is latex free and are far superior to latex when it comes to puncture resistance and general durability. Nitrile gloves also offer better chemical resistance against certain chemicals compared to latex and vinyl gloves.


One issue with nitrile gloves has been their effect on the environment, as a disposable item that can take a long time to degrade they have an impact on waste. However, companies are now product biodegradable versions of their nitrile gloves. 


Ideal uses for nitrile gloves are:

  • Medical industries such as dentistry, hospitals and beauty
  • Janitorial industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Industrial industry


  • Mould to your hand for a great fit
  • Latex free
  • Good durability
  • Excellent puncture resistance
  • Have a long shelf life
  • Available in powdered and powder free
  • Can be worn for longer periods of time
  • Work well for high-risk situations involving infectious materials


  • They are not biodegradable although companies are now starting to produce biodegradable versions.
  • Usually slightly more expensive


Latex is a natural material that is made out of rubber. Latex gloves offer good protection in wide range of applications and have good resistance to many chemicals. The main reason for finding an alternative is due to latex allergies, or the application requires the gloves to be worn for a longer period of time. For example, in a factory where a technician will be wearing the same pair of gloves for a long period of time.

Latex gloves do have a slight advantage over nitrile when it comes to dexterity and comfort though, most latex gloves are lined with powder making them easier to put on and are generally thinner which increases touch sensitivity.


Ideal uses for latex gloves are:

  • Medical industries such as dentistry, hospitals and beauty
  • Janitorial industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Industrial industry


  • Fit like a second skin
  • They are cost effective
  • They are biodegradable so better for the environment
  • Very elastic and strong
  • Preferred in the medical industry over nitrile as they are made from a natural source
  • Good dexterity


  • Latex can be allergenic
  • Lower resistance to punctures
  • Lower chemical resistance


Vinyl gloves offer a different option to latex and nitrile. They are looser fitting and generally used more in the food industry where durability and protection are not as important, they are also a less expensive option.

Vinyl gloves are more suited for short-term, low risk tasks where cost is a factor. They do not offer quite as good dexterity as nitrile and latex gloves but are still a good option for certain tasks.

 Ideal uses for vinyl gloves are:

  • Food preparation industry
  • Medical industries such as dentistry, hospitals and beauty
  • Janitorial industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Industrial industry


  • Cost effective
  • Latex free


  • Offer less dexterity due to a looser fit
  • Are susceptible to punctures
  • Do not offer much chemical resistance

Whatever the material it is important to understand how to put on and take off you disposable gloves in order to prevent contamination and keep your hands clean.

 Globus have produced an excellent video to show how to put-on and remove disposable gloves properly which you can see below.


So now you know the difference between materials you can hopefully make the right decision when choosing which disposable gloves to buy.

 However if you are going to be wearing gloves all day and require more protection remember there are reusable gloves available that can be washed.

click here to buy NVIMedic Nitrile exam, Powder-Free Blue gloves 

Click Here to buy Shield Gloves Examination Powder Free Clear Vinyl Gloves 

Click Here to buy Wrap Tite Shield gloves, Natural Latex, Powder free Gloves 

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