Types of Gloves

Types of Gloves Explained – Nitrile, Chloronite, Latex, Vinyl, Butyl Rubber and Neoprene

Protection against contact with hazardous materials is important for everyone’s health and safety.  Work sites often have many chemicals, substances or materials that can cause skin damage and/or provoke allergic reactions.  In fact, some toxic chemicals can be slowly absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.  Skin can become damaged, irritated, and even broken by friction or from extremes of heat.  In biological work, skin contamination can lead to infection.  

These compounding facts are reasons why it is super important that you understand that there are many different types of gloves.  Once you learn a bit more about them you will be able to figure out which glove will protect you the best.  

It is important to remember that given the wide range of work being done no single glove will meet the needs of everyone.  Gloves must be selected based on the materials being handled and the type of work undertaken.

Considering there are so many types of gloves available on the market, it can be very confusing as to which type of glove is best suited for your application. 

Considerations when selecting the correct glove type

Considerations when selecting the correct glove type

Disposable Gloves or Re-usable Gloves

Disposable gloves protect the wearers hands from potential hazards.  Disposable gloves allow the user to retain good touch sensitivity and dexterity but they have lower chemical resistance.  They are designed to protect against incidental rather than intentional contact with chemicals and should be changed after any splash.  They are designed for single use only and should never be re-used.

Disposable gloves are not suitable for handling some aggressive or highly hazardous chemicals.  They provide little useful protection against physical hazards as they may easily tear or puncture if snagged.

Re-usable gloves are defined as being 457 – 711 microns thick.  They offer greater protection than disposables against abrasion and other physical hazards, and are less likely to tear in use.  They can offer stronger chemical resistance than disposables, but this depends on the glove and its qualities.  Re-usable gloves are generally less flexible then disposables, they are more likely to interfere with dexterity and touch sensitivity.  Re-usable gloves need to be well looked after to prolong their life.

Re-useable gloves need to washed and dried after use to avoid accidental skin contamination when next putting the gloves on.  This is especially important if the work has involved immersion or handling of chemicals that can permeate the glove material.  If frequently re-used the gloves should periodically be turned inside out and the inner surface washed and rinsed off.  Re-useable gloves do not last forever and should be inspected before each use for discolouration, cracking at flexion points or damage and should be discarded if found.  They must also be discarded if the inside becomes contaminated.

Incidental Contact vs Intentional Contact

Incidental contact refers to tasks where there is no intended direct contact with the hazardous material.  Exposure will only occur through an accidental splash or spill.  Most types of disposable gloves can provide adequate protection against incidental contact.  However it is vital that when disposable gloves are used to protect against chemical hazards, that when a suspected splash or spill occurs, they are immediately discarded and a new pair donned.

Intentional contact refers to tasks where contact with the hazardous material is inevitable.  For example; immersing hands in liquids, direct handling of a substance rather than its container or handling of materials coated or saturated with the hazardous substance(s) e.g. a cleaning rag.

When selecting a glove for protection against intentional contact with chemicals, it is necessary to select a glove made from a material that offers good resistance to attack or permeation from the specific chemicals in use.  This will often require a reusable glove.

Cut Rated Gloves

Cut Rated gloves have been tested under the EN388 Gloves Standards which measure protection against risks such as Abrasion, Cut, Tear and Puncture.

In many industries, Cut Rated gloves are mandatory under Occupational Health & Safety regulations and must be worn at all times.  Learn more about the importance of Cut Rated gloves by viewing the Komodo® Vigilant Cut Hazard Management System where Cut Rated Gloves are manufactured in Hi-Vis colours, linking hazards and tasks with Hi-Vis colours to ensure compliance.


Types of Gloves Materials


  • Is the best all-rounder glove, suitable for a large variety of applications.
  • Good for solvents, oils, greases, hydrocarbons and some acids and bases.
  • High puncture resistance, high chemical resistance.
  • Easily shows when damaged or compromised.
  • Good for biohazards.
  • Avoid: intentional contact with ketones, oxidising acids and organic compounds containing nitrogen.
  • Nitrile is the best choice for incidental splash protection against chemicals.


  • Co-polymer Chloronite material is a sophisticated formulation of soft nitrile and neoprene.
  • Comfortable for long period of use.
  • Suitable for intentional chemical splashes (depending on the chemical).
  • Powerful resistance to a wide range of EN recognised chemicals and solvents.

Latex (Natural Rubber)

  • Good for biohazard protection (infection risks).
  • Good for inorganic chemicals.
  • Poor for organic solvents.
  • Avoid: oils, grease and hydrocarbon derivatives.
  • Difficult to detect puncture holes.
  • Can cause or trigger latex allergies.
  • High dermatitis potential.
  • Highly flexible and dexterous.

Butyl Rubber

  • Good for ketones and esters.
  • Only available as re-usable.
  • Poor touch sensitivity.
  • Strong against aggressive chemicals.
  • Thick and not flexible.

Standard Vinyl Gloves – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

  • Multiple negative environmental issues.
  • Manufacturing process creates toxic chemicals.
  • Does not bio-degrade.
  • If not properly disposed of can leach chemicals into the environment.
  • Plasticisers in glove may contaminate solvents.
  • Very cheap.
  • Predominantly manufactured in China.

Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA)

  • Good for aromatic and chlorinated solvents.
  • Poor for water-based solutions (dissolves in water).
  • Avoid: Contact with water or water-based solutions, water solubles.
  • Only available as re-usable.
  • Poor touch sensitivity.
  • Can be cleaned with solvents.
  • Thick and not very flexible.


  • Good for acids, bases, alcohols, fuels, peroxides, hydrocarbons and phenols.
  • Poor for halogenated and aromatic hydrocarbons.
EN Standards and how to learn more

Please refer to the Glove Information Page for more information on EN Standards and the Pictograms that represent each.

If you have any questions about which type of glove you need, simply call our team of Glove Experts on 1300 33 1488 and they will be able to help you find the best glove for your needs.

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