EDC Magazine is supported by its audience. When you purchase via our links, we may get a commission. Learn more

What Are Chemical-resistant Gloves? Here is Your Answer!

Fact checked by Andrew Carnegie

what are chemical resistant gloves

You might have heard the term “chemical-resistant gloves” if you work closely with harsh substances. At times, you might wonder, “What are chemical-resistant gloves?” and be very doubtful that a thin pair of gloves can resist chemicals. Surprisingly, purpose-built gloves can resist dangerous chemicals, including acidic solutions, esters, and kerosene, while maintaining dexterity and comfort.

During chemical handling procedures, chemical-resistant gloves are worn to protect the workers’ hands from contact with harmful substances. The gloves must meet the EN ISO standards. So, how to tell whether a glove meets the standards and why you should wear them? Dive in!

Everything About Chemical-resistant Gloves

Chemicals are necessary not only for laboratories but also for agricultural and production firms. Though manufacturers might substitute dangerous chemicals for milder ones when possible or use the help of machines, employees’ direct exposures to chemicals are unavoidable in numerous handling processes. This is where chemical protective gloves are obliging. They protect workers when they have to engage with dangerous chemicals.

The gloves for handling chemicals must undergo EN ISO 374-1:2016 testing procedures before being sold in the market. The tests consist of two parts: air leaks and water leaks. Manufacturers combine air and water with an amount of chemicals to determine the gloves’ performance. Then, they report the breakout time and mark the gloves as type A, B, or C.

Check the table below for common kinds of substances that chemical-resistant gloves protect against. Sometimes, they can protect against other mixtures and chemicals; it depends on their end purposes and the type of marking products manufacturers desire.

Fortunately, you don’t have to learn all the intricate information about all kinds of chemicals and testing procedures to get the suitable gloves for your job. There are simple ways to spot chemical-resistant gloves just by looking and trying them on.

How to Spot Chemical-resistant Gloves


1. Materials

Checking the label and material is the easiest way to tell whether a pair of gloves is safe for chemical exposure.

So, what are chemical-resistant gloves made of? They can be from many kinds of rubber: butyl, natural, nitrile, and neoprene. Sometimes, they can be from plastic, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Manufacturers can blend or laminate these materials for optimum performance. The gloves can also be disposable or reusable.

Additionally, each glove material resists different chemicals. You won’t find a glove that can be used for all hazards. On the label, the manufacturer might state the glove material and what kinds of chemicals it is suitable for.

The graphic above showcases examples of what material can protect you from what chemical. Generally speaking, nitrile and latex are your best bet for water resistance. But when dealing with acetone and toluene, they only offer medium resistance. However, this might vary by manufacturer. Always choose gloves based on the seller’s guide.

2. Thickness and length

Understandably, thick gauge gloves are more protective than thin short gloves. Though both thin and thick gloves can be chemical-resistant, thick gloves normally offer a longer chemical breakthrough time. Nonetheless, the dexterity and flexibility your job requires play a big part in choosing the thickness. Manufacturers state a glove thickness in either mils or gauge. A 15-gauge glove equals 15 mils or 0.015 inches.

On top of that, you need to consider the glove length. Chemical-resistant gloves are usually longer than regular gloves to protect you from chemical splash and immersion. The most common length is 13 inches, ranging all the way up to 31 inches.

3. Finishes

You can’t tell whether a glove is chemical-resistant by its finish. Yet, learning the right glove texture is crucial for workplace safety. Chemical safety gloves feature textured finishes and knit linings for better grip, insulation, and sweat absorption. When working with slippery substances, you need gloves with textured fingers and palms.

The Importance of Chemical-resistant Gloves


Now, you know chemical safety gloves are for protecting your hands from harmful substances. But exactly, what will happen if you are exposed to chemicals without proper PPE (personal protective equipment)? I think we all have a general idea of acids burning the skin or even dissolving the flesh. While this is true, it is not the only hazard, nor is it the worst-case scenario.

Typical chemicals can pass through employees’ skin, entering the bloodstream and the vital organs without the person’s awareness. In the beginning, there might only be skin rash or itchiness. But over time, the internal damage can develop cancer cells and mutate the body’s organs. In fact, it is required by law to equip employers with proper chemical-resistant gloves.

The OSHA 1910.138 standard published in 1994 indicates the necessity of chemical safety gloves as follows:

  • Proper hand protection is mandatory when there are possibilities of workers’ skin absorption of harmful substances.
  • Employers must assess the potential hazards to provide the corresponding PPE. Failure to match the PPE material to each task application is a violation of the law.

Besides, donning and removing protective gloves appropriately hugely impact your own protection. Check out this video for how to handle chemical-resistant gloves:

Wrap up

Understanding the severity of the hazards allows you to take the requisite steps to ensure your safety. We believe that employers should provide proper training on how to use, maintain, and store protective gear for their workers.

We hope this article provides you with a thorough answer on “What are chemical-resistant gloves?” Should you need further information, check out more glove safety posts on our website. Thank you for your attention!

5/5 - (2 votes)