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What are the Different Types of Disposable Gloves?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Disposable gloves come in many types and may be defined by the materials they are made from or by their common practical applications. For instance you can find disposable gloves for housework or gardening, or you may be looking for gloves that are disposable and are latex free. Sometimes one type can substituted for another in certain settings, though generally if people are looking for gloves for medical procedures, they look for those made specifically for medical use.

There are common materials that make up most types of disposable gloves. These include latex, vinyl and nitrile. All three materials can separately make medical disposable gloves, but people can also find gloves in these three fabrics that are less designed for medical work. Since these gloves are relatively thin, they aren’t necessarily suited to certain types of work. For instance work that could cause injury to the hands like heavy weeding or types of industrial applications usually require safety gloves or gloves with more cushioning, and these aren’t often disposable.

One reason disposable gloves come in a variety of materials, especially for medical and home use is the rise in number of people with latex allergies. Some people who have had previous allergic response to latex can go into anaphylactic shock if they wear these gloves or are exposed to others wearing them. When a person is aware of having a latex allergy, he or she should choose vinyl gloves or nitrile gloves instead.

Another option with some disposable gloves is to purchase them with or without powder. Powder can make it easier to slip gloves on, but isn’t the best choice for all work. For instance, people would want to avoid using powdered gloves if they were preparing food.

Though disposable gloves are helpful with many different tasks, they are not suited to all kinds of work, and the materials they are made from are not always biodegradable. While natural latex does degrade, most vinyl and nitrile gloves will take up space in landfills for a very long time. For this reason, many choose non-disposable gloves.

There is more range in material of those gloves that are not disposable. They can be made of cotton, wool, leather, and other material combinations. Gloves can be purchased for industrial work, gardening, most kitchen duties and a variety of other applications. Some gloves are washable and others are thrown out once they get sufficiently filthy. Follow the care instructions to extend the life of gloves that are intended for more than one use.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon33222 — On Jun 02, 2009

How long do the gloves last in a landfill before they degrade?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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