Disposable Gloves for Medical, Care and Industrial Applications
Disposable gloves form a barrier against germs and chemicals, making them a basic component of protective equipment in the healthcare sector. They are also widely used in other industries, including restaurants, the food industry and beauty salons to protect the health of staff, patients and guests. Our online shop offers disposable gloves made of the following materials
Depending on the material and protection class, disposable gloves must meet different quality criteria (e.g. powder-free or food-safe), which are important to take into account when purchasing.
Disposable gloves: materials and features
Nitrile, vinyl and latex gloves all come with specific advantages and disadvantages and are therefore used for different applications.
Nitrile is a synthetic material that does not normally cause allergies. Nitrile gloves are generally considered very gentle on the skin, which is especially important in the medical field. In addition, nitrile gloves are extremely hard-wearing and are tear and puncture-resistant. Bacteria and viruses cannot penetrate nitrile. Unlike latex and vinyl, nitrile is also resistant to solvents and greases. This makes nitrile gloves ideal in settings where chemicals are handled regularly. Nitrile gloves can also be used to safely handle food since the material does not release any harmful substances when it comes into contact with fats or alcohol. Nitrile gloves are therefore used for numerous applications, including:
- medicine, nursing and geriatric care
- laboratories and workshops
- the food industry
- hair salons, cosmetic and tattoo studios
- professional cleaning services
Disposable gloves were originally made of latex, a very soft and elastic material that moulds perfectly to the individual shape of the hand. Wearers find latex gloves comfortable, especially in applications where they need to feel their fingertips. The major disadvantage is that the proteins contained in latex can cause allergies. Because of this, nitrile and vinyl glove products are primarily used in the medical sector today so as not to endanger staff and patients. Latex is also only somewhat suitable for handling food and chemicals since the material is permeable to solvents and fats. However, the comfort they offer means latex gloves are still popular and are mainly used in these sectors:
- medicine and veterinary medicine
- hair salons
- tattoo studios
Vinyl is a very thin, soft material with a smooth surface that, like nitrile, does not normally cause allergies. Vinyl gloves are primarily used in nursing and geriatric care, in particular for non-medical activities such as washing patients. This is because, unlike nitrile and latex gloves, vinyl gloves do not stick to body hair so cause no unpleasant pulling. Another advantage of vinyl is the excellent price-performance ratio. Vinyl gloves are usually cheaper than nitrile or latex gloves.
Compared to nitrile and latex, vinyl is less durable and less tear-resistant, which means vinyl gloves cannot withstand much mechanical stress. Vinyl also does not offer sufficient protection against chemicals, solvents and fats. The plasticisers in vinyl also mean vinyl gloves are not suitable for handling food. Greasy foods in particular may become contaminated with harmful substances if they come into contact with vinyl. Nitrile gloves are better suited for these applications.
Disposable gloves: key legal standards
Disposable gloves are required by law in many settings. In any job where employees come into contact with potentially hazardous substances, gloves are considered personal protective equipment (PPE). In the healthcare sector, where disposable gloves protect patients as well, they are also considered a medical device. Depending on the application, disposable gloves must comply with different legal standards:
General requirements for disposable gloves: DIN EN 420
The European DIN EN 420 standard is the basic standard for all gloves used as personal protective equipment (PPE). It specifies minimum requirements for the materials used and for processing, sizing and labelling. For example, under DIN EN 420, all materials used must present no danger to health, and the seams and edges of disposable gloves must not pose any risk of injury.
Disposable gloves in medicine and care: DIN EN 455
If gloves are required for use in the healthcare sector, they should feature a DIN EN 455 label. This standard is divided into four aspects relating to impermeability, physical properties and dimensions, biological safety and shelf life. Gloves that meet the requirements of the DIN EN 455 standard must also be waterproof. This is measures using what is known as an accepted quality level (AQL), with a minimum AQL of 1.5 required to meet the standard. For problematic substances like chemicals, endotoxins or leachable proteins, the manufacturer must comply with the required threshold values.
Disposable gloves as protection against chemicals and microorganisms: DIN EN 374
Gloves that serve as personal protective equipment when handling chemicals must be labelled according to DIN EN 374. This standard sets out a range of different requirements. For example, disposable gloves must be airtight and waterproof and protect the user against bacteria and fungi. Whether the gloves are also resistant to viruses is indicated by a corresponding label on the packaging. In addition, DIN EN 374 defines three different types of protection:
- Type A gloves prevent the passage (permeation) of at least six chemicals for at least 30 minutes.
- Type B gloves prevent the passage (permeation) of at least three chemicals for at least 30 minutes.
- Type C gloves prevent the passage (permeation) of at least one chemical for at least ten minutes.
The manufacturer will indicate the specific chemicals with codes on the packaging.
What else to look for when buying disposable gloves
Disposable gloves must comply with the legal standards, of course. Beyond this, products may differ in terms of their processing, material properties, texture, etc. You should therefore take into account the following criteria when choosing the right gloves to buy:
Sterile or unsterile?
Non-sterile disposable gloves are sufficient for most applications. They usually come in boxes of 100 to 200 gloves. Sterile disposable gloves are used in the operating theatre area as well as in laboratories and clean rooms where there can be no contamination. They come individually packaged.
Powdered or powder-free?
Most of the disposable gloves we stock in our online shop are powder-free. Under the legal standards, powder-free means that gloves may contain a maximum of 2 mg of powder residue.
Powdered gloves have the advantage that they are easier to put on and take off, even with wet hands. Their disadvantage, however, is that the powder they release into the air can irritate mucous membranes and airways when inhaled, therefore posing health risks, especially for allergy sufferers. Gloves should therefore be powder-free when used in the medical sector in particular. Powdered disposable gloves are also not safe for use in the restaurant and food industries since they can contaminate food. When marketed for these applications, gloves should be labelled ‘powder-free’.
Material thickness: extra thin or extra robust?
In most cases, a glove’s durability depends on the thickness of the material. Thinner disposable gloves are typically marketed as ‘light’ or ‘basic’ gloves. They are less expensive but also somewhat less durable. Thicker disposable gloves marketed as ‘premium’ quality products are especially durable.
Please note that thickness and durability also depends on the material: vinyl gloves are usually thinner and less durable than latex or nitrile gloves.
Suitable for use with food?
When selecting gloves for the restaurant or food processing industry, be sure to check the gloves are labelled food safe. Nitrile gloves are predominantly used in the food sector since nitrile is highly resistant to fats and oils and does not release any harmful substances. Latex gloves are less suitable because latex proteins can be released from the glove when it comes into contact with fats. If latex allergy sufferers eat food contaminated with latex, they can suffer an allergic shock. Vinyl gloves can also be problematic since vinyl contains plasticisers that break down in contact with fats and oils.
The glove’s colour does not indicate any specific properties. In the food sector, however, blue nitrile gloves have largely become standard since the eye-catching colour makes it easier to find misplaced gloves.
Non-sterile disposable gloves usually come in sizes S to XL, and sometimes in XS as well. Sterile disposable surgical gloves, however, are sized numerically (5 to 9.5).
Buy tested disposable gloves conveniently and affordably online
Whether you are looking for universally applicable nitrile gloves, inexpensive vinyl gloves or comfortable latex gloves, our range features a wide selection of gloves, all of which meet all the required legal standards. Many of our products are made in Germany are powder-free and are suitable for use in the food sector. Want to stay up to date about new product developments and special offers? Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop!