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Nitrile vs. Vinyl Gloves: A Comprehensive Guide for Workers

Fact checked by Andrew Carnegie

nitrile vs vinyl gloves

Did you know that many patients died due to surgery-related infections before disposable gloves were invented? Thankfully, those days are over.

Technological advancements have enabled manufacturers to create gloves that can protect patients from contamination without sacrificing the physician’s dexterity.

Before we think about nitrile vs vinyl gloves, let’s try to understand the features of each material. This way, you can make a more informed decision when you need to restock your medical supplies.

Comparing Nitrile and Vinyl

To be clear, the purpose of this vinyl vs nitrile gloves comparison is to help you determine which glove material is better suited for the job you need to do.

Vinyl Gloves


1. What are vinyl gloves?

Disposable vinyl gloves are a great option for workers who are allergic to latex. Apart from plasticizers, they are made of synthetic rubber and additives called polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

2. Characteristics of vinyl gloves

  • Suitable for low or non-hazardous applications

“Low or non-hazardous,” in this context, means the workplace and the job itself do not expose worker to harsh chemicals and infections. Some examples include food handling and preparation, cleaning, and light manufacturing-related tasks.

Those who are tasked to handle artworks and photographs can also wear vinyl gloves to prevent their fingerprints from transfering to the paint or paper.

  • Cheaper to produce

Another difference between nitrile and vinyl gloves is the production cost. Generally, vinyl is more affordable.

  • Loose-fitting

If you cannot make up your mind about choosing between vinyl or nitrile gloves, the fit can be your tie-breaker. Vinyl is notable for being slightly looser.

You don’t have to look at this as a problem. This article from Bitesizebio suggests that those with sweaty hands can benefit from larger-sized gloves as it leaves some space for the pores to breathe.

3. Disadvantages of vinyl gloves

  • Breakable

In this article on Ventyv, it is said that the molecules separate individually when the vinyl material is constantly stretched. Unfortunately, this also compromises the glove’s ability to serve as a protective barrier.

  • Lacks chemical and pathogen resistance

As mentioned earlier, vinyl is more apt for non-hazardous tasks. In laboratories and hospitals, this thin material is not sufficient for resisting pathogens and chemicals.

If you have to use vinyl in labs and medical facilities, you can do so for as long as the task does not expose you to harsh chemicals or disease-causing microorganisms.

Nitrile Gloves


Just like vinyl, disposable nitrile gloves are safe for those who have latex allergies. That’s because they are made of synthetic rubber but the compound comprises acrylonitrile, carboxylic acid monomers, and butadiene.

1. Characteristics of nitrile gloves

  • Highly protective and durable

Compared to the other disposable synthetic rubber gloves, nitrile is more heavy-duty. Safety Gear Pro explains that this material can resist acidic or slightly corrosive substances. Hence, lab workers wear them when handling hazardous chemicals.

Plus, nitrile gloves are more puncture-resistant than latex gloves. Workers like to wear them when using sharp instruments. Without the microscopic pinholes, you have a greater chance of keeping harmful chemicals from entering the barrier.

  • Form-fitting but with better elasticity

One of the strongest points that nitrile has over vinyl is its fit. Although it hugs the fingers and hands, the material does not break once you start moving your hands.

West Lab says that many workers used to opt for latex gloves due to their comfort and dexterity. Nowadays, nitrile gloves have undergone many improvements, allowing users to naturally control their hands without discomfort.

  • Versatility

While vinyl gloves are recommended for non-hazardous tasks, nitrile gloves do not have such limitations.

Indeed, nitrile gloves are the top choice for the medical community but workers from other fields are also benefiting from them.

This article on Adenna reports that nitrile gloves are also popular in transportation, beauty and wellness, food, emergency response, law enforcement, and even tattoo industries.

2. Disadvantages of nitrile gloves

  • Less tactile

Nitrile and vinyl were invented to address the allergic issues that latex caused. For many workers, latex gloves offer better tactile sensitivity and nitrile gloves have yet to catch up.

As this article on Trichem Solutions puts it, you may not be able to feel objects easily with nitrile gloves.

  • More on the expensive side

Cost is another huge factor when workers compare vinyl gloves vs nitrile gloves. Generally, nitrile gloves are pricier.

If you look at the price tags at retail stores or on e-commerce websites, you’ll see that a box of nitrile is more expensive by one or two dollars.

Those who are buying one box of gloves may think that this difference is negligible. But if you are buying in bulk, you will save a lot of money by choosing vinyl over nitrile gloves.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there eco-friendly disposable gloves?

Both vinyl and nitrile are not eco-friendly. As Medtecs explains, the leachate of broken-down petroleum found in vinyl often stays on top of the water, thereby affecting marine life. On the other hand, nitrile gloves tend to be thicker. Hence, it does not dissolve easily.

Latex gloves are easier to compost since this material came from rubber trees.

2. Which one is more waterproof: nitrile or vinyl gloves?

Generally, nitrile and vinyl gloves are waterproof. However, let’s take that with a grain of salt and look at each material more closely.

In the nitrile gloves vs vinyl gloves comparison above, we learned that nitrile is thicker and therefore, more durable. Vinyl gloves are meant for lighter tasks as they will likely tear when punctured or snagged by sharp instruments.

Furthermore, the protective barrier that vinyl provides gets compromised when the material is overly stretched.

Apart from that, Omni International Corp reveals that organic solvent can degrade or affect the integrity of vinyl. If your task requires waterproof hand protection, it is best to choose nitrile or latex gloves.


Choosing between nitrile vs vinyl gloves is not a straightforward process. Besides protection, we also need to think about other factors like tactile sensitivity, comfort, and cost. After all, there is not a single type of disposable gloves that can be considered “perfect” for all kinds of tasks.

To make things easier for you to remember, just keep in mind that vinyl gloves are for non-hazardous jobs. When handling harsh chemicals or infectious materials, go for nitrile gloves.

Regardless of the material, we recommend buying gloves only from reputable manufacturers and distributors to ensure that you get good protection.

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