Should you wear disposable gloves?
Disposable gloves are helpful to wear in many industries based on sanitary purposes and needing a barrier between you and another object or person for protection. Lots of people wear disposable gloves during different times throughout their workday. Whether it’s for patient-hygiene purposes, cleaning something with harsh chemicals, or just preferring the extra layer of protection. Wearing disposable gloves can depend on your line of work and the situations you might encounter while on the job.
Healthcare workers who most likely have direct contact with patients will wear them for hygiene and cleanliness purposes, similar to foodservice employees who are touching the food that customers are eating. People such as janitors and custodians might wear them depending on what they are cleaning, and if the products they are using can be harmful to their skin. Mechanics also might wear them depending on the products they are using, because some auto-maintenance products can leave stains on their hands. While they are not reusable, disposable gloves are very essential in many fields of work.
How to Choose Disposable Gloves by Industry
There are certain kinds of disposable gloves that are meant for different lines of work. Gloves that are intended for medical professionals, janitors, foodservice employees, and mechanical purposes may be different, but they protect our hands and skin from contracting or passing out germs onto others. Here are some examples of disposable gloves per industry:
- General purpose: W.B. Mason Co. Powder-Free General Purpose Gloves, Nitrile
- Foodservice: W.B. Mason Co. Powder-Free General Purpose Gloves, Vinyl
- Healthcare: Safe Guard Powder-Free Exam Gloves, Vinyl
- Janitorial: Boardwalk Disposable General Purpose Powder-Free Nitrile Gloves, Black
- Mechanical: Auto Supplies Black Nitrile Gloves, Powder Free
What are the safest disposable gloves?
There are many different types of disposable gloves and factors to consider before purchasing and wearing them. Safety is a very important reason to wear gloves, so finding the safest type for your line of work is critical. Safety equipment supplies such as disposable gloves can help to ensure all levels of security at work. Whether you are handling food, harmful chemicals, bodily fluids such as blood, or caring for a newborn baby, gloves are a great barrier to protect us and others.
Start by making sure that your gloves fit into the line of work that you are currently in. Some gloves will say who is intended to wear them based on what line of work they are in. After that, confirm who is and who isn’t allergic to latex in order to rule out gloves that are made with latex.
If there are certain things you are looking for in a pair of disposable rubber gloves such as anti-slip grip, breathable material, or cut resistant, make sure you filter those factors in when searching for them. When it comes to something as generic as disposable gloves, it’s not a “one size fits all.” What’s considered safe for your line of work won’t necessarily be safe for another, so make sure to look through all of the options and brands when replenishing your gloves.
What are the best disposable gloves for sensitive skin?
If you have sensitive skin but still need to or want to wear disposable gloves, there are options to keep your hands free of any issues. Using gloves that are latex-free can help reduce irritation and allergic reactions. Vinyl and nitrile gloves are both latex free options, so if you have sensitive skin it would be best to use either of those types. Thankfully, there is a wide selection of these types of gloves on the market since wearing them for long periods of time can cause skin issues to develop in many people.
Vinyl gloves: Tend to be more affordable and do a great job protecting your hands from dirt and bacteria. They give your hands a snug fit which can give good grip and elasticity.
Nitrile gloves: Are a good option if you need puncture resistance, as well as a chemical resistance. If you are in healthcare or in a facilities-type line of work, these gloves would be best since there is more protection from sharp objects and harsh chemicals. Both options are latex-free which reduces your chance of allergic reactions and flare-ups if you have sensitive skin.
Are disposable gloves recyclable?
Using gloves that need to be thrown away after each use can cause large amounts of waste ending up into our landfill. Good news, though! They are recyclable. Here are a few ways to take part in the recycling process of disposable gloves:
- Traditional recycling: A regular recycle bin that houses paper, plastic and cardboard can also include disposable gloves and be taken to a recycling center. As long as there are no hazardous chemicals or biohazard materials such as blood on them, they can be recycled. Make sure to inform everyone who uses them about the criteria for recycling disposable gloves.
- A recycling partnership: If your place of work uses disposable gloves around the clock and wants to make sure they are recycled properly, set up a partnership with the either of the following companies:
- Kimberly-Clark Professional
The program works by your business or company buying a box or a bundle of their gloves, using them up, filling the box back up with the used gloves and sending the box back to the company you are partnering with. These companies are certified and eligible to recycle these gloves and turn them into renewable energy which helps the planet.
While both types of disposable gloves can be recycled, only the latex gloves are biodegradable. Latex is able to decompose because the rubber is made from items found in nature. Nitrile and vinyl are made of synthetic materials and chemicals, making them unable to participate in the biodegrading process.
How are disposable gloves made?
The process of manufacturing latex gloves compared to nitrile and vinyl are pretty similar, the only main difference is the materials of which the gloves are made up of. Latex gloves are made from a latex concentrate material that is found in the Amazon rainforest called “hevea brasiliensis.” This is what most rubber is made from and is tapped out from a tree, similar to that of maple syrup. After combining it with chemicals such as sulfur and zinc oxide, pigments, and antioxidants, it is ready to be dipped into the molds.
Nitrile and vinyl gloves are made from more of a synthetic material to create more flexibility and the chemical resistance compared to the latex gloves. These gloves go through a washing process to get rid of the latex proteins and then are dipped into the molds like latex gloves. Here is a step by step process of making disposable gloves:
- The hand-shaped molds are washed with hot water and chlorine to prepare for the molding process and to remove leftover debris from the previous batch.
- The hand molds are then dipped into the rubber material made up of the chemicals and other synthetic materials.
- For latex gloves, the molds are then dipped into the latex material. The time spent in the latex material is dependent on the desired thickness of the glove.
- The gloves are sent through hot water and chlorine to get rid of excess latex proteins and other chemicals that can induce allergies.
- The drying and curing stage begins, where the gloves transform into an elastic condition, making them wearable.
- They are rinsed one more time to ensure there are no more latex proteins.
Do disposable gloves expire?
Disposable gloves do expire, so be sure to keep an eye on the expiration date. Although they can be used up quickly, you want to make sure you aren’t using gloves that have already expired. If you see holes, tears, or there seems to be discoloration in the gloves, they are not usable and should be recycled.
The shelf life can range between three and five years if the gloves are stored in a cool, dark place and in their original packaging. Disposable gloves expire because the synthetic and natural rubber found in both latex and nitrile and vinyl gloves break down overtime, becoming not as effective.
What type of disposable gloves are best?
The type of disposable gloves you use at work can depend on how sensitive your skin is, and what you do for work. Gloves used as restaurant supplies might be different compared gloves that are found in an auto body shop as well as a hospital. Although it can be hard to find the “best” type of disposable glove, W.B. Mason makes it easy to find which ones would best suit your business. Simply use the filters on the left side of the page to customize your needs and wants, to hopefully find a glove that is right for you.
AMMEX. How Disposable Gloves Are Made: Latex, Nitrile, Vinyl and More. (https://blog.ammex.com/how-disposable-gloves-are-made-latex-nitrile-vinyl-and-more/#.Y6HTsaTMLIU) Accessed December 20, 2022.
Connexions. Why do disposable gloves have an expiration date? (https://www.connexions-tech.com/article/detail/Why-do-disposable-gloves-have-an-expiration-date.html) Accessed December 20, 2022.
Gloves.com. Best Disposable Gloves for Sensitive Skin. (https://www.gloves.com/blogs/resources/best-disposable-gloves-for-sensitive-skin) Accessed December 20, 2022.
Gloves.com. How to Recycle Nitrile Gloves. (https://www.gloves.com/blogs/resources/how-to-recycle-nitrile-gloves) Accessed December 19, 2022.
Medline. Medline Green Smart Glove Program. (https://www.eandi.org/wp-content/uploads/Medline-Greensmart-Glove-Program_Customer-Facing-002.pdf) Accessed December 20, 2022.
Northeast Recycling Council (NERC). Recycling Options for Single-Use Gloves. (https://nerc.org/news-and-updates/blog/nerc-blog/2020/07/21/recycling-options-for-single-use-gloves) Accessed December 20, 2022.