Latex vs. Nitrile vs. Vinyl Gloves? Choose by Task! Brought to You by

latex vs. nitrile vs. vinyl gloves header

Which glove should you choose - latex vs. nitrile vs. vinyl gloves? It depends on the task at hand. The following information will help you decide.

Latex gloves were the old standard before doctors, industrial workers, and others began realizing how many people are allergic to latex. Nitrile gloves offer the strength, tightness, and dexterity of latex gloves without the problems with allergies. Vinyl gloves are mostly food service gloves or for very low-risk, temporary tasks. Here’s a graphic that outlines the basics well:

latex vs. nitrile vs. vinyl gloves infographic

Now we’ll go into more detail on each:

What are Latex Gloves?

Latex gloves are the old standard, made out of natural rubber. These are what all gloves are compared against. Powdered gloves have been banned by the FDA, so they won’t have powder in them. Latex gloves fit tight agains the skin and are protective, like a doctor wears. The big thing to realize with latex gloves is that there is a potential for an allergic reaction if the person is allergic to latex, including if you just touch someone with the allergy.

Latex gloves:

  • Are biodegradable, made of natural rubber
  • Have a tight fit
  • Protect against many chemicals and high-risk situations
  • Are usually more cost effective than nitrile
  • Are almost as strong as nitrile gloves
  • Have the most nimble of fingers
  • Have about a three year shelf life


  • Latex allergies
  • Can’t be worn as long as nitrile
  • Sometimes the price of natural rubber can go up

What are Nitrile Gloves?

Nitrile gloves were created to replace latex gloves because of the allergy problem. They are strong, tear-proof, puncture-proof, and fairly nimble. Many medical and industrial facilities rely on them, but the FDA has to run durability tests on them to be approved for hospital and medical use. They are now almost the new norm.

Nitrile gloves:

  • Are latex-free
  • Are tight and form-fitting like latex gloves
  • Are the strongest, most puncture proof and tear proof, often called “medical grade”
  • Protect against many chemicals and high-risk situations
  • Are very sensitive and have almost as much dexterity as latex
  • Can be worn for long time periods
  • Have a long shelf-life, up to five years
  • Traditionally come in a variety of colors, including blue and black that shows punctures.


  • Can be more expensive
  • Not biodegradable, made of synthetic rubber

What are Vinyl Gloves?

These are the looser fitting gloves made for food service and very temporary tasks where the glove can be quickly disposed of. They are great for providing a quick barrier and they cost less.

Vinyl gloves:

  • Are latex-free
  • Have a looser fit
  • Are mainly for food service and quick low-risk tasks
  • Are cost-effective
  • Generally have more anti-static properties
  • Have about a two year shelf life


  • A lot less strong and puncture resistant, being susceptible to breaks and tears
  • Don’t protect as much against chemicals and hazards
  • Very short term
  • Not biodegradable



So which to choose among latex, nitrile, or vinyl gloves? Basically, if you need a form-fitting, protective glove you’ll want to choose latex or nitrile, depending on allergies. If puncture resistance is paramount, choose nitrile. For food service or very temporary jobs a (looser and weaker) vinyl glove may suffice.

Sources: chat