If there is a popularity contest among disposable gloves, latex ones will probably take the crown home. However, there are people who opt not to use them— especially those who are allergic to latex.
Yes, latex is an allergen which causes people who wear them to develop not just irritated skin, but also life-threatening conditions such as anaphylaxis or breathing difficulty. So, if you are allergic to this substance, you might be asking “what can I use instead of gloves made of latex?”
To find out a great alternative to latex gloves and avoid potential health risks, keep reading.
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List of Latex Glove Alternatives
Here is the list of what to use instead of rubber gloves made of latex:
Alternative #1: Nitrile Gloves
The first on the list of replacement for latex gloves is nitrile. It is made of nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR)— a synthetic compound.
Because of its composition, nitrile gloves possess characteristics that make them an excellent latex gloves substitute.
Nitrile gloves don’t contain the proteins found in traditional latex and are a good option for people allergic to latex.
- Chemical, puncture, and abrasion resistant
Because of the combination of acrylonitrile and butadiene, nitrile gloves are considered durable.
Their durability also allows them to be puncture and abrasion–resistant. They also withstand exposure to hazardous and corrosive chemicals, as well as oils, grease and weak acids.
They are also preferred as a doctors glove as they provide protection against pathogens that can come from bodily fluids.
Nitrile gloves adhere to the shape of your hands — as if you’re not wearing any gloves at all. This also means that you don’t have to worry about them slipping off your skin even after wearing them for a long time.
- Stronger and have a higher resistance to oils and chemicals compared to latex.
- A versatile substitute for latex gloves and can be used in several fields, such as engineering, food, and even in cosmetology when dying hair.
- More expensive than latex
- May trigger contact dermatitis for people with nitrile allergy
- Nitrile gloves are not considered eco friendly as they take very long to biodegrade. They are also less likely to be recyclable as they are usually single-use.
Alternative #2: Vinyl Gloves
If you have latex or nitrile glove allergy alternative gloves are still available, such as those made of vinyl.
Vinyl is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a synthetic thermoplastic material.
Considering that PVC is usually used as a cable and wire insulator, vinyl gloves are useful when handling static-prone items, as well as electronics.
Vinyl gloves’ versatility is one of the reasons why they make for a great alternative to latex and nitrile gloves. They are excellent in low-risk tasks such as food preparation, painting, and house cleaning.
- Easier to put on and take off as they have a looser fit
- Cost-effective due to cheaper manufacturing cost
- Less durable and less elastic
Despite not having latex or nitrile gloves’ durability and elasticity, vinyl gloves now come in different thickness to compensate for this disadvantage.
- Has a lower protection level against chemicals, oils, and acids compared to latex and nitrile gloves
Related: The detailed comparisons between vinyl vs nitrile gloves
Alternative #3: Neoprene Gloves
You can say that neoprene gloves are a less-popular alternative to nitrile gloves and latex gloves. However, they have features that definitely make them deserving of the spotlight.
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber made by transforming chloroprene into polychloroprene. And since synthetic rubbers are made to mimic natural rubber, the features of neoprene gloves are almost the same features as latex— minus the latex!
- Puncture and abrasion resistant
Neoprene gloves are durable, and such durability allows them to protect your hands when dealing with tough jobs. They also protect you from getting cuts and scrapes when working with sharp tools.
- Great tensile strength
Along with their durability, neoprene gloves also have amazing flexibility. They offer the kind of stretch that is actually comfortable to wear and makes you feel like they are your second skin.
- Cold and heat resistant
Gone were the days when you needed to buy two different gloves to protect your hands while handling something too hot or too cold at work. Neoprene gloves can give you the best of both worlds.
Neoprene gloves can resist high temperatures up to 275°F and will only stiffen if exposed to heat higher than that.
When it comes to cold, they can withstand freezing as low as -50°F. They are also a perfect glove of choice to keep your hands warm during winter.
- Has better grip compared to latex
- It is affordable
- Has higher heat tolerance than natural rubber
- Has a low rate of degradation from weather, sunlight, oxidation, mild acids and more.
- Offers less resistance to oil and other petroleum-based agents compared to nitrile
Features and Pros of Latex Gloves
Unlike their alternatives, latex gloves are made from latex, the milky substance of rubber plants where natural rubber is derived.
Latex gloves were first invented by a surgeon in Johns Hopkins Hospital to protect the medical staff’s hands against chemicals they use in performing surgeries. Since then, these gloves have become a staple in the line of personal protective equipment.
However, they are also worn outside the medical industry. Latex gloves are also used in different fields such as food processing, janitorial work, and manufacturing. After all, they possess characteristics that allow them to be versatile and useful in several jobs.
One is their flexibility or elasticity. This is almost a given considering that they are made with natural rubber.
However, the feature that makes latex gloves stand out among other gloves is their high touch sensitivity. Because of this, despite the growing popularity of non latex gloves, latex ones are still the go-to for many.
Aside from the protection they provide against surgery chemicals, their tactile sensitivity plays a crucial role in the success of several medical procedures such as surgery or physical exams.
This touch sensitivity is also one of the reasons why latex gloves are considered comfortable.
Additionally, compared to nitrile and neoprene gloves, latex is more affordable, which makes them a good option if you are on a budget.
Things to Consider When Shopping for Alternatives to Latex Gloves
Now that you know what type of glove is an alternative to latex, here are the things to consider in choosing what to use instead of rubber gloves.
First, you have to choose the material that will complement the kind of work you’ll do. For example, in jobs that don’t require high dexterity but demand durable, cut-resistant, and comfortable gloves, you can settle with nitrile or nylon gloves.
However, if you are dealing with oils, you may choose neoprene.
The material is also a deal-breaker, especially if you have sensitive skin, so make sure that you get hypoallergenic gloves.
You also have to consider the comfort and fit. After all, no one wants to be uncomfortable while working.
Protecting our hands with gloves when working is important to avoid injuries and illnesses. This is why being allergic to protective materials, especially latex, can be a hassle.
However, it is not a hopeless case if you can’t use this rubber. After all, there are a lot of alternative to latex gloves that you can try. And hopefully, this guide has helped you decide the kind of glove to use instead of gloves made of latex.
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.