The ‘Handy’ Guide to Choosing your PPE Gloves - Vinyl vs Nitrile vs Latex Gloves

Posted by Danielle Phillips-Green on 16th Apr 2021

A Guide to Medical Gloves 
Vinyl vs Nitrile vs Latex Gloves -

Vinyl vs Nitrile vs Latex Gloves Comparison Chart

We all know gloves are ‘handy’ but have you ever considered their uses, what types are best and what the differences are? Well look no further!

In this short article we are going to shed light on some common medical gloves in the UK. Here you’ll find everything you need to know and where you can get them, ‘five finger discounts’ excluded!

Let’s begin with the types of disposable gloves available. Obviously you have the fluffy, quirky alternatives but these aren’t particularly great for protecting yourself from toxins and bacteria, although they do keep your fingers warm. The types we are referring to are latex, vinyl and nitrile gloves.

What Are Latex Gloves? 

Female Wearing White Disposable Latex Gloves

Latex is made from rubber trees and has previously been the ‘go to’ glove for most industries prior to new variants becoming available. They are strong and dextrous and provide excellent resistance to harmful chemicals and bacteria. However, as the latex gloves became popular, so did the allergies from them, thus meaning they have been replaced in many medical and professional settings. The other benefit of latex is it’s eco-friendly. As latex is made from plants, it’s biodegradable, making the latex glove a tough but ‘kind’ alternative.

# The Pros and Cons of Latex Gloves


  • Cost effective
  • They are form-fitting, acting like a second layer skin
  • Biodegradable
  • They provide strength and elasticity
  • Good dexterity


  • Some people are allergic to latex
  • Lower resistance to punctures
  • Provide less chemical resistance

What Are Vinyl Gloves?

Woman's Hands Wearing Transparent Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves are made from a petroleum-based film, PVC. The main benefit of this type of glove is how inexpensive they are to make. They tend to be less durable than latex and nitrile gloves and aren’t as powerful in their defence against harmful chemical and biochemical exposure. Studies have shown that when vinyl gloves are stretched, the molecular structure of the gloves separates, therefore compromising their protective capabilities. Due to their low cost and poor protection, vinyl gloves are more popular in non-hazardous settings. Vinyl gloves aren’t as form fitting as latex and nitrile gloves, making them more prone to tearing and breaking.

We often get asked are the vinyl gloves latex free? The answer is yes!

# The Pros and Cons of Vinyl Gloves


  • Latex free
  • Cost Effective
  • Less likely to cause a skin reaction like latex gloves
  • Easy to put on and take off


  • Looser fit
  • Susceptible to punctures
  • Offers less chemical resistance and can only be used for non-aseptic procedures and tasks with a low risk of contact with blood or bodily fluids

What are Nitrile gloves?

Excalibur Health Product Blue Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile is a synthetic rubber material that’s mostly used for the composition of gloves. Nitrile has vastly become more affordable and as a result has gained popularity in the medical, hospitality and cleaning industries. Nitrile gloves have a superior structure to other glove variants making them more resistant to breakages and chemicals. They are also a great alternative for latex allergy sufferers as they will not exacerbate the condition because they are latex free. Nitrile gloves are particularly favoured by medical practitioners and other professionals handling toxic chemicals as they are flexible, comfortable and tough!
(Please  click here for more product Information about Nitrile Gloves)

# The Pros and Cons of Nitrile Gloves


  • Latex free
  • Great puncture resistance
  • Mould to your hand for a great fit
  • Have a longer shelf life
  • Excellent strength and durability
  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Perform well in high-risk situations involving infectious materials
  • Black or blue nitrile gloves are provided to help identify if the gloves have been punctured
  • Available in powdered and powder free
  • Can be worn for longer periods of time


  • They are mostly not biodegradable but there are some biodegradable variants on the market now.
  • Slightly more expensive than the others

The Differences Between the Latex, Vinyl and Nitrile Gloves

The differences between these disposable medical gloves lies in their composition. In studies the nitrile gloves tend to be the most durable and flexible, establishing them as the new favourite for most industries. The latex gloves were also a close second as their structure and ability is similar to the nitrile glove but due to latex allergies they aren’t used as often as they once were. Whilst the vinyl gloves are the cheapest option, they aren’t particularly strong and aren’t as protective as the other variants, making the vinyl glove the least popular choice for PPE requirements but convenient for less harmful usage.

The Powder and Powderless Gloves .

Another aspect to consider when selecting your glove is whether to select a powdered or non-powdered option.

Powdered gloves are useful because they absorb any perspiration, making it easier for the wearer to put on the gloves or take them off. Perspiration causes your hands to remain wet inside of the glove, which can also cause some wearers to develop dermatitis or soreness with prolonged use, so a powdered alternative will eliminate this issue.

Although at first glance the powdered glove can seem like the best choice, the powder inside the glove can cause contamination. As an example, if dust particles from inside the glove fall into an open wound or cut, an infection may occur. Whilst this is a possibility, it is extremely rare for cross-contamination of this nature to occur.

There are many factors to consider when selecting your glove and we always advise choosing the right glove for you based upon what duties you require them for, Of course, factor in cost but if you select the right glove in the first instance, you will save yourself time and money in the long run.

Hopefully, this guide has equipped you with more insight into the types of gloves available, whatever glove you choose, make sure you are partnering them with other protective strategies to ensure the best protection for you and the people around you. 

The Importance of Choosing the Right Gloves and How to Choose Them.

Who’d have believed that choosing the right glove was more complex than simply picking up a pair of marigolds from your local shop? In the rise of the coronavirus and more and more emphasis placed on personal protection equipment, choosing the right protective and medical glove for you is actually very important.

It all depends on the application in which you will be using your glove, allergies and of course cost! You also need to choose a glove that is the right size for you, which won’t only provide comfort and maneuverability but also will lessen the likelihood of them tearing or breaking mid use.

Another consideration is the duration of time you are required to wear the gloves for. Will the gloves be worn for a short time or longer periods? Comfort is important for longer wear and of course dexterity. Usually, the more robust a glove is the better protection it offers, however, the thinner the glove is, the better moveability users will have. Both the nitrile gloves and latex gloves offer great protection and are flexible enough to use consistently. If you are using your gloves for close contact care or for handling chemical and toxic substances, make sure you dispose of the gloves after each use to avoid cross-contamination.

No matter what type of industry you are in, choosing the right glove will make sure you are meeting health and safety guidelines and above all, protecting yourself and the people around you.

In identifying the type of duties you require the gloves for, you can ensure you select the correct ppe glove to safely carry out your work or care without compromising on protection.

You can obtain all of the disposable gloves mentioned in this article from Medicare, Amazon, The Glove company and of course ourselves. When buying from external suppliers, make sure the gloves you purchase meet safety and protection guidelines before ordering. Whilst cheaper alternatives may be appealing in the short-term, they won’t necessarily protect you in the long-term.

If you require assistance choosing your glove or want to know more about ordering in large quantities, you can contact our customer care team who would love to hear from you.

For more information please contact us.


XP21 Medical Supplies