Latex vs Vinyl vs Nitrile Gloves: Which should you choose?

Why choose disposable gloves?

Disposable gloves are a staple piece of equipment across many industries. Wearing them helps in the restriction and disposal of contaminants, and also directly protects the user from a range of dangers - such as bacteria, viruses, chemicals, sharps, oil and much more.

But which gloves are best suited for you? At First Aid Warehouse, we stock latex, nitrile and vinyl gloves, which all provide different benefits. So whether it’s for handling food, beauty products, medical equipment or something else entirely, this guide will help you choose the most suitable gloves.

Latex Gloves

Latex gloves are hugely popular across many industries and are the most well-known choice for many. Made from rubber, they offer valuable durability and dexterity.

Our latex gloves are powder-free, to allow for the handling of food, and to increase their resilience to oil and water while still retaining their excellent touch sensitivity. They’re a universally standard choice in the medical industry, due to their comfort and resistance - but unfortunately latex allergies affect around 4% of the general population, so alternatives have to be considered.


  • A range of low-risk tasks e.g physical examinations, dying hair, handling food
  • Longer activities that require comfortable gloves
  • Medical industries (Hospitals, Dentistry, Beauty)
  • Catering industry
  • Industrial tasks
  • Crime solving and forensic environments

Benefits of latex gloves

Considerations when choosing latex gloves

Eco-friendly, as they’re biodegradable

Can tear and break more easily than other gloves

Comfortable and snugly fitting

Can cause an allergic reaction

Allow high touch sensitivity

Don’t protect from sharps or chemicals

Very stretchy and strong


Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves are a good alternative for those with latex allergies, as they’re made synthetically from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) mixed with a plasticiser. This makes them a looser fitting option, while retaining the benefits of being very flexible and affordable. However, they’re less durable than nitrile or latex gloves, and will provide a lower level of protection against bacteria, chemicals and other microbes.


  • A range of low-risk tasks e.g physical examinations, dying hair, handling food
  • Low risk, quick tasks e.g cleaning, painting, medical examinations
  • Workplaces or environments where latex allergies are a concern
  • Medical industries (Hospitals, Dentistry, Beauty)
  • Food preparation
  • Automotive industry

Pros of vinyl gloves

Considerations when choosing vinyl gloves


Can be uncomfortable


Low resistance to chemicals

Usually a lower price option

Can easily break or tear

Free from allergens


Nitrile Gloves

Similar to latex, nitrile gloves are made from synthetic rubber. While nitrile can technically be classed as a type of latex, the gloves do not contain any. This material makes them resilient to a range of chemicals and oil, as well as tear resistant.

In terms of general durability, they’re considered to be above latex and vinyl - however they’re not the most eco-friendly option. When disposed of, they take a very long time to biodegrade, in comparison with the other options.


  • A range of medium to high risk tasks, due to their chemical, oil and puncture resistance
  • Longer activities that require comfortable gloves
  • Chemical labs
  • Industrial environments
  • Food preparation

Pros of nitrile gloves

Considerations when choosing nitrile gloves


Not as biodegradable as latex

Chemical resistant

Can be a more expensive option

Puncture resistant

Not made of latex


Tight fitting, comfortable fit




What about polyethene (PE) gloves?

Polyethylene gloves can also be a good alternative to choose, especially for food preparation tasks, care homes and hairdressing. They provide a basic level of protection, and are loose-fitting which makes them easy to wear for new or infrequent users. When compared to the other options, polyethylene gloves don’t provide such a high level of protection - especially in medical or chemical use, or when dealing with sharps. Use polyethylene gloves in low risk, minimal jobs only.

Which gloves are better, latex, vinyl or nitrile?

This will ultimately depend on your environment, needs and circumstances - as each type of glove brings different benefits and value.

If your environment is relatively safe, and the tasks you’re undertaking are low risk, the likely choice is vinyl. They’re widely used across the medical and food preparation industries, are flexible and loose fitting - as well as often being the most affordable.

However if you’re needing a higher touch sensitivity, and a more durable option, latex gloves may be more suitable. They’re often more comfortable than vinyl, offering a tighter fit whilst retaining flexibility. They also offer the most environmentally-friendly option out of the three - just ensure that if you’re supplying gloves for others that you’re aware of any allergies.

Choosing nitrile gloves will eliminate the risk of this, and are a superb option if you’re working in higher risk environments. The synthetic rubber used in their composition gives them a close fitting, comfortable feel, while allowing finger dexterity. This makes it ideal for any cleaning, lifting or intricate tasks - not to mention they are resilient to chemicals, oil and sharps. If durability is your main concern, nitrile is the best option - their resilience to higher risk items (sharps, chemicals) is superior to latex and vinyl. When considering from a sustainability viewpoint, they’re a poor choice however, taking an extremely long time to biodegrade.

As you’re making your choice of gloves, consider the risks, tasks, environment and opinions of others who may use the gloves, to ensure you’re making a responsible and safe choice.

If you have any further questions we’re always happy to help, get in touch here.