Vinyl Vs. Latex Gloves…. Common Questions And All The Answers!

Vinyl Vs. Latex

Are you in the food industry or the medical field?
If your answer is yes, you must have been in a situation where you had to choose Vinyl Vs. Latex Gloves!

Choosing suitable gloves can be devastating if you are unfamiliar with the gloves’ materials, content, and properties.

Are you overwhelmed by these multiple choices of gloves?

Do you want to know the differences between latex and vinyl gloves?

Well, look no further.

I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide for you on vinyl vs. latex gloves.

In this article, we will give you answers to some of the most popular questions about vinyl vs. latex gloves:

  • How different is the material?
  • Which is more comfortable?
  • Which is better in terms of protection?
  • Allergy concerns.
  • Which is better in the food industry?
  • Which is more eco-friendly?
  • Which is less expensive?
  • What are they used for?

Vinyl Gloves vs. Latex Gloves …How different is the material?

Many gloves might look similar, but they are not. Each disposable glove is made from a different material.
Different materials contribute primarily to the properties of the gloves.

Let’s compare the material of vinyl and latex gloves

  • Latex gloves 

Latex is the first known material to be used in gloves.

Similarly, it has been a rockstar for many years.

It’s a natural material (a protein) that comes from the rubber tree sap (also called Hevea brasiliensis).
This tree originally came from Brazil but is now mainly cultivated in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other southeast Asian countries as well as Africa.

It’s the most common latex source, yet you can find Latex in almost 10% of flowering plants.

Plants typically produce Latex as a defense against insects and injuries.
How does this work?

Latex is a Latin word for liquid.

Why?

It is a milky white complex emulsion of proteins, sugars, oils, alkaloids, tannins, gums, and starches that coagulates when air exposure.

When a plant is injured, it secretes Latex to seal the tear and prevent further damage, like human blood clots.

To illustrate, Latex is also called natural rubber latex as it comes from the rubber tree and is sometimes called caoutchouc.

But rubber and Latex are not the same.
Although people might use the terms alternatively, they are different; rubber is an elastic material made either naturally from Latex or synthetically from petrochemical materials such as PVC and neoprene.

Now let’s see the synthetic rubber vinyl gloves and what they are made of.

  • Vinyl gloves

Vinyl gloves are made from a raw synthetic material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Therefore, vinyl gloves are most often referred to as PVC gloves.

PVC is a petroleum-based polymer synthetically made by merging monomers of ethylene and chloride in a series of chemical processes.

PVC is usually rigid and used in pipes, plastic bottles, etc.

However, it can be turned into a flexible material by adding plasticizers called phthalates.

These plasticizers make the PVC softer, pliable, and moldable enough to be transformed into gloves.

Polyvinyl chloride is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic polymer of plastic after polyethylene and polypropylene.

To summarize, natural rubber latex gloves come from rubber trees, while synthetic rubber vinyl gloves are made from PVC polymers.

Each goes through chemical and mechanical processes, from raw materials to disposable gloves we know to have the properties we will discuss next.

Let’s dig in.

Vinyl Gloves Vs. Latex Gloves… Which is more comfortable?

Elasticity is the ability of the gloves to return to their original shape after being pulled and stretched.

As close as human skin, latex gloves have an extraordinary ability to stretch.
They are considered the most elastic type of gloves.

Meanwhile, the mechanical strength of vinyl gloves compared to latex gloves is much lower.

Why?

Because vinyl molecules don’t stick well together
In other words, they have low molecular cohesion, are less elastic, and are much easier to break and tear.

Likewise, elasticity directly contributes to comfort.
For instance, latex gloves fit snugly around your hand like a second skin; they are super comfortable to wear.
Furthermore, they offer better dexterity and grip for sensitive and precise procedures.

On the contrary, vinyl gloves are less elastic.
Therefore, less form-fitting around the hands can be loose-fitting and uncomfortable to wear and are not well-suited for precise tasks.

However, the loose fit makes them ideal for tasks requiring frequent gloves changes.

In any case, fitting like a second skin like latex gloves or loose fitting like vinyl gloves, you get to decide which is more comfortable and suitable for you and your intended jobs.

Not only with comfort in mind but also protection.

Let’s see how well vinyl and Latex do in different terms of protection.

Vinyl gloves Vs. Latex Gloves …Terms of protection 

Protection is basically why gloves are made.

Human skin is a delicate barrier that should be shielded against many hazards like chemicals, oils, microorganisms, tears, and cuts.

Let’s see how Vinyl Vs. Latex Gloves gloves do in the face of all these threats.

Microorganisms and pathogens’ resistance

According to the European Centre for Disease and Control “ECDC,”

“The use of medical gloves is recommended as part of standard precautions to reduce the risk of contamination of healthcare workers’ hands with blood and other body fluids, including contact with non-intact skin and mucous membranes” (1).

That means the gloves used should be able to protect you from infections caused by microorganisms, pathogens, and body fluids.

Latex gloves give the most effective protection against bloodborne pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and body fluids.

In contrast, vinyl gloves don’t adequately protect against microorganisms and pathogens.

Why?

When they are stretched, their molecules separate, compromising the protective barrier they should be providing.

Moreover, they have high permeability, meaning they are more vulnerable to bacteria, viruses, and cytotoxic materials.

However, some vinyl gloves are now created with new technologies that give them antimicrobial properties.

Here’s How robust are the antimicrobial gloves at smashing microbes on contact

So, which is better for resisting chemicals and oils? Let’s figure it out.

  • Chemicals & Oil Resistance

Chemical resistance is crucial when working around abrasive materials such as acids, alkalis, detergents, etc. 

The length of exposure, conditions and chemical concentration highly impact the glove’s performance.

However, if you use the wrong gloves with less chemical resistance, you could end up with more damage to your hands.

If you want to know more, here’s your perfect guide for chemical-resistant gloves.

Indeed, both vinyl and latex gloves are excellent at resisting bleaching materials. They work very well with laundry, dishes, and household detergents.

Regardless, vinyl gloves have poor resistance to many chemicals.

That’s why it’s not preferred to use them in places like laboratories and chemical manufacturing processes.

On the other hand, latex gloves are superior to vinyl gloves in that area; they offer chemical resistance against most acids, bases, chlorine, iodine, and formaldehyde.

Yet, latex gloves don’t withstand some types of chemicals, such as organic solvents or chemicals derived from hydrocarbons, such as automotive, painting, and refinishing chemicals.

Your 101-expert guide to acid-resistant gloves for industrial and medical use

Weirdly, things go the other way around when it comes to oil resistance.

Vinyl gloves are oil, grease, acid, and base resistant, but not solvents or ketones.

While latex gloves are not, the integrity of Latex can be compromised in the presence of petroleum-based products.
Are you looking for the best oil-resistant gloves? Here we go!

What about the tears that you could have working around sharp objects? Which one is the best?

  • Tear, puncture, abrasion, and puncture resistance.

Tear and puncture resistance is essential when handling sharp objects like needles, knives, and sharp dental instruments.

That’s why you need to know which type of glove offers you the best protection against such threats.

Latex is the most resilient natural material ever known.

Thus, latex gloves have superior cut and tear resistance compared to all other types of gloves, making them highly durable.

Moreover, latex gloves are highly punctured and abrasion resistant, but not as much as nitrile gloves.

Here’s our guide on Latex vs. nitrile gloves; price, quality, and eco factors.

On the other hand, vinyl gloves are less durable and can easily tear, break, and puncture, leaving you vulnerable.

What about heat resistance, electrical isolation, and waterproof properties?

  • Heat resistance

Both of them are heat resistant to certain limits.

The ideal temperature range to use latex gloves is between -55 and 82 degrees Celsius. But it can withstand temperatures of up to 160 degrees Celsius.

While vinyl gloves can withstand up to 93 degrees Celsius.

Are you looking for a heat-resistant glove? Here are five things you need to consider before buying one.

  • Electricity isolation

Latex gloves hold on to electrostatic charges and release them when in contact with metals.

So, when handling electronics such as computers and mobile equipment, it’s not preferable to use latex gloves as they could harm you or damage the product you are taking.

On the other hand, vinyl gloves are antistatic, so it’s much safer to use them for this purpose.

  • Waterproof  properties

Because of its water resistance, PVC is the chosen material for products like raincoats, shower curtains, and window frames.

But vinyl gloves are not 100% impermeable; they are waterproof to some extent.

Latex gloves are more waterproof.

Why?

Because it is simpler to control the levels of micro holes and impermeability.

Given all of these points,
Regarding protection, latex gloves have shown superiority in microorganism and pathogens’ and chemical resistance. They’re also infamous for their tear and puncture resistance with excellent waterproof and heat resistance.

While vinyl gloves have better oil resistance and antistatic properties.

You must be wondering if latex gloves are superior in all of these; why was there a need to create vinyl gloves and other synthetic gloves?

That puts us face to face with the word “latex allergy.”

Let’s explore it.

Vinyl vs. latex gloves… Allergy concerns

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “OSHA.”

“Latex allergy was first recognized in the late 1970s.
It has become a significant health concern as more people in the workplace are affected.
Healthcare workers exposed to latex gloves or medical products containing Latex are at risk. “(2)

But how many people are sensitive to Latex?

Latex allergies affect less than 1% of the general population (3).

However, according to OSHA “, 8-12% of healthcare workers are latex sensitive.”
Between 1988 and1992, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) received more than 1,000 reports of adverse health effects from exposure to Latex, including 15 deaths due to such exposure” (4).

Although latex gloves now go through a “deproteinization” process to eliminate the presence of latex protein, people need to find safer alternatives.

In addition, studies have shown that prolonged exposure to Latex can cause sensitivities over time.

While Latex is the most common allergen for gloves allergies, vinyl gloves are protein, Latex, and allergens-free.

They’re a very compelling choice for people with latex allergies.

But be aware! 

Sometimes there are compounds in the vinyl manufacturing process that could cause chemical allergies, but not as frequently as latex allergies.

If you have severe rashes from gloves at work? Your perfect guide is here!

Can this latex allergy affect the use of latex gloves in specific industries?

The food industry is a significant player in this area. Let’s figure out how.

Vinyl vs. latex gloves… Which is better in the food industry?

In food safety, neither vinyl nor latex gloves should be your choice!
Why? Let me tell you. 

Regarding latex gloves, you can never know which consumer has a latex allergy or doesn’t.
It’s not just Latex touching their skin.

If food is prepared while wearing latex gloves, the latex proteins can be transferred to the food, causing an allergic reaction if the person consuming the food is susceptible.

Several states have banned the use of latex gloves in food contact.

On the other hand, 

vinyl gloves have raised concerns about food safety as they were found to leach materials such as phthalates into the food.

What’s wrong with phthalates?

Phthalates are known to be carcinogenic when ingested.

They can lead to heart diseases and cancer and affect reproductive health and brain development.

Given these facts, black vinyl gloves were banned in the European Union for use in food industries in 2008. 

It’s also banned in both China and Japan.

Although some vinyl gloves can be phthalate-free, they are not approved for use with fatty foods.

Additionally, they are not highly durable, so they will not stand against the sharp edges and machines used in cooking and manufacturing food.

Due to their lack of elasticity, they are usually loose-fitting; they could get caught up in the machines, hurting you or hindering your dexterity while performing cooking-related tasks.

They are best used for simple tasks such as assembling and packaging.

Now that we’ve established that latex allergy necessitates a safer alternative, such as vinyl gloves, none of which can be used for food handling, if you must use your gloves while handling food,  here are six excellent alternatives to black vinyl gloves.

Also, here are nine dreadful things to avoid when choosing suitable food service gloves.

What about the ecological and economic factors? Who wins this competition, vinyl or latex gloves?

Vinyl vs. latex gloves… Which is more eco-friendly?

There’s no doubt that the world is searching for eco-friendlier options in everyday life.

Gloves are now an essential part of everyday life.

After the pandemic of COVID-19, people are more aware of how essential they are as part of PPE … here’s everything you need to know about PPE for caregivers.

Latex gloves are biodegradable.

Why?

Because they come from natural sources, they can be reused and recycled.

Hence, they are eco-friendly.

On the other hand, vinyl gloves have been raising many red flags regarding their environmental impact. 

How so?

Well, let me break it to you: vinyl gloves are wrong for the environment.

Why?

First, they are not biodegradable; they don’t wear out or break down by time or environmental factors easily.

Unlike latex gloves, they have long storage periods and shelf life.

Additionally, vinyl gloves release chlorinated toxins in all their stages.

When they’re manufactured and misused, leaching phthalates into our food, and when they are disposed of, they release toxic byproducts into the atmosphere, water, and soil.

Therefore, I guess you would agree that, in terms of friends of the environment, the natural latex gloves win the competition with no second thoughts.

If you wonder how to, please read our article about how new biodegradable gloves will stop ruining our ocean’s gloves.

Which is less expensive?

Does your budget concern you? And you wonder which gloves to go for.
Let me tell you this; vinyl gloves are the cheapest and most affordable.

They are inexpensive to synthesize and consequently cheap for purchasers & consumers.

Inversely, latex gloves are more expensive, but because they are cheaper than nitrile gloves, you can consider them cost-effective.

However, it doesn’t only depend on the price; it depends on the task you need.

Is it worth compromising your protection for a lower price?

Let’s go through the ideal uses for each of them so you can decide on this.

Vinyl vs. latex gloves… What are they used for?

  • Vinyl gloves

Because of their ease of donning and doffing, vinyl gloves are a tremendously great option for industries and applications where you need a frequent change of gloves or short-duration tasks.
For this reason, they’re popular in restaurants, grocery stores, cafeterias, catering, and food processing operations.

It’s also best for a non-hazardous and low-infection environment.
For example, they are great for cleaning, janitorial roles, painting and printing work, light plumbing, and beauty salons such as dying and dressing hair.

Moreover, they’re available in exam grade, which makes them an excellent, cost-effective option for non-sterile light medical use.
Such as examinations in medical and dental facilities with minimal exposure to bodily fluids.

How do you know which is most relevant when choosing sterile vs. non-sterile gloves? Click here.

  • Latex gloves

For many years, Latex has been the gold standard for medical gloves.
Latex gloves are safer to use in high-risk jobs such as in the medical field in surgeries and patient examinations due to their high resistance to microbes and pathogens.

With high levels of flexibility, protection, and comfort, latex gloves are suitable for most medical environments as long as latex allergies are not an issue.
Additionally, their high dexterity and tactile sensitivity make them highly valued in tasks that require precision, like surgical procedures.

Here are six specifications and four types to choose from for surgical gloves; check them now!

They are also used in many applications, from manufacturing to painting to automotive tasks.

Seven unpopular expert opinions on getting the best latex gloves for mechanics

In conclusion,

Vinyl gloves are synthetic rubber gloves known to be the most economical and affordable choice.

It’s lightweight; a loose fit makes them easy to be donned and doffed.

Additionally, they are more suitable for short-term tasks, low-risk environments, and non-hazardous materials.

The unique thing about them is that they are latex-free, so they are best for people with latex allergies.

On the other hand, they are susceptible to punctures, offering less protection against chemicals, biohazards, and microorganisms, and are not biodegradable.

While natural latex gloves offer a high level of touch sensitivity and flexibility, they can be worn for an extended time.

They are highly puncture and tear-resistant and work well in high-risk situations, including environments where contamination is high. Moreover, they are eco-friendly. 

However, they’re not suitable for people with latex allergies and don’t offer a shield against petroleum-based products. 

I hope you enjoyed this comprehensive vinyl vs. latex gloves guide and got all the needed information.

If you still have further questions about vinyl and latex gloves, we’re here to answer them.
All you need to do is message us.

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