Latex, Nitrile, and Vinyl Gloves – What’s the Difference?

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Disposable gloves are an essential part of the healthcare industry. They protect the healthcare providers and patients from health hazard microbes and ensure optimal hygiene at all times.

As you may have already known, disposable medical gloves come in different variants. Generally, they are made from these three materials: latex, nitrile, and vinyl.

Below are their differences from each other and more information about where they are best suited for.


For many years, latex is a popular material used for disposable, medical-grade gloves. It is because latex is the recommended protection against bloodborne viruses like HIV. However, as its popularity skyrockets, so did the cases of allergic reactions, which led to more demand for non-latex and latex-free gloves – like vinyl and nitrile.

For those who are not allergic, latex gloves are cheap and comfortable and offer better touch sensitivity. It also gives the wearer a great deal of dexterity and comfort. Moreover, latex gloves come in powdered and non-powdered types. The powdered type uses cornstarch inside the gloves to easily slip in and out your hands.

Latex gloves are ideally used in the medical industry, but they are also suited for automotive, janitorial, and industrial industries. Some of its pros and cons are the following:


  • It fits like a second skin
  • Cheap
  • Biodegradable
  • Very elastic
  • Excellent dexterity


  • It can be allergenic
  • Low resistance to chemicals
  • Low resistance to puncture


Nitrile gloves are also used as medical gloves and ideal alternatives to latex when allergies are a concern. If you are looking for a puncture-resistant glove, nitrile is the way to go. However, once a nitrile glove is punctured, it will tear completely.

Nitrile has almost the same feel, fit, durability, and dexterity as latex but more resistant to fats, oils, solvents, and chemicals, making them ideal for laboratories and agricultural purposes, photochemical industries, meat processing, and pesticide applications. They can also withstand high temperatures, which is an advantage for the automotive industry. Some of its pros and cons are:


  • Latex-free
  • Highly durable
  • Puncture-resistant
  • Long shelf-life
  • Available in powdered and non-powdered variant
  • It can be worn for an extended period
  • Best for high-risk work environments that involve the use of chemicals


  • Not biodegradable
  • More expensive than latex


Vinyl is made from a petroleum-based film. They fit loosely and are more commonly used in the food industry. One of the best benefits of vinyl gloves is they are inexpensive, which is – as expected – are less durable than nitrile and latex. This variant also offers limited protection against biomedical and chemical exposure.

Vinyl gloves are suitable for low-risk tasks and only for short-term use. They do not provide enough dexterity level compared to latex and nitrile gloves. However, They are still a good option for specific industries like food preparation, industrial, janitorial and medical industries like hospitals, beauty, and dentistry.


  • Affordable
  • Latex-free


  • Less dexterity
  • Highly susceptible to punctures
  • Non-resistant to chemicals

Choosing the right type of gloves primarily depends on the nature of work you will be using the glove for and your body’s reaction to the material the glove is made from. However, remember to pick a glove that perfectly fits your hand, which will provide you with the most comfort while doing your tasks.

Lauren Author

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