Latex gloves have become incredibly popular since the disposable glove market began.
They have also been a common choice for many people who are conscious about their health during the coronavirus pandemic. Why? Latex gloves are high-quality, environmentally friendly, and get the job perfectly done.
However, about 4% of the worldwide population are prone to latex allergies. These allergies cause discomfort among users and affect their way of working.
Thankfully, nitrile and vinyl are common eco-friendly alternatives to latex gloves.
Here, we’ll determine the best eco-friendly alternative to latex gloves to help you get the job done with optimum effectiveness and less discomfort.
Main Features of Latex Gloves
Let’s first look at latex gloves, their features, pros and cons.
Latex is a mixture of proteins and compounds found naturally in some trees and plants, such as spurges and poppies. However, it is derived primarily from Hevea brasiliensis, usually known as the rubber tree.
Besides, latex comes out as a ‘milky’ substance. But it often gets converted into natural rubber for various applications in different industries.
It’s popular in making gloves and paint, among other products.
Pros of Latex Gloves
- Biodegradable as they get derived from a natural source.
- Solid make-up for durability.
- Latex gloves provide an excellent fit.
- They offer excellent dexterity.
- Latex gloves have excellent elasticity.
- They are comfortable for use over extended periods if you’re not allergic.
- FDA approved for restaurant and medical use.
Cons of Latex Gloves
- Causes latex allergy, making them unfit for most allergic people.
- They are often pricey glove options.
Latex gloves have set the standards pretty high. As a result, finding an alternative with the same quality can be challenging.
But their sales have gradually declined because of the increased awareness of latex allergies.
That’s why many people are searching for the best eco-friendly alternative to latex gloves. Our next section will identify the main options to consider.
Best Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Latex Gloves
There are various alternatives to latex gloves. However, options like Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA), Neoprene, and Spectra are non-biodegradable.
These disposable gloves can be harmful to the environment.
That’s why you should avoid them at all costs and instead consider eco-friendly alternatives like nitrile and vinyl gloves. Let’s examine these eco-friendly alternatives to latex gloves.
1. Nitrile Gloves
Nitrile gloves can be the best alternative to latex gloves, especially if you experience allergies.
They’re also thick, strong and very durable than latex gloves because they comprise synthetic rubber, a medical-grade material derived from a blend of materials called Acrylonitrile and Butadiene.
These gloves are hyper-elastic, making them one of the most puncture-resistant gloves available on the market.
They are efficient in offering protection against tears, cuts, and chemicals.
As a result, nitrile gloves have become famous in medical and food processing facilities, including the oil and auto industries.
Nitrile gloves are excellent for use where infection levels are risky and for handling corrosive and hazardous chemicals.
Nitrile gloves were initially non-biodegradable. They come from synthetic rubber, which takes over 100 years to break down completely.
But as of today, there are biodegradable nitrile gloves on the market thanks to Showa (inventors of the first disposable nitrile glove).
These gloves are powder-free and designed with Eco-Best Technology without compromising performance. This makes them the best eco-friendly alternative to latex gloves.
- Extremely durable, strong, and puncture-resistant.
- Colored black or blue to allow you to see punctures with ease.
- Super elastic nature makes them very versatile.
- FDA approved for the medical and food processing industries.
- They boast a long shelf life.
- Latex-free for comfortable use by allergic people.
- Limited range of motion
- Costly option
2. Vinyl Gloves
Vinyl gloves are another great alternative to latex gloves.
They come from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is plastic and not rubber, making them distinct from latex and nitrile gloves.
Plus, they are readily accessible due to their low production costs but provide the same benefits as nitrile and latex.
Vinyl gloves are the cheapest option as they are best suited for short time use and low risks.
These gloves are anti-static, latex-free, and fit loosely. This makes them ideal for the food industry, where protection and durability don’t matter.
Since they offer little protection against chemicals and infection, making them unfit for medical use.
Although they are less durable, vinyl gloves have a longer shelf life than latex gloves. You won’t experience any form of allergy with these gloves.
Vinyl gloves don’t provide as excellent dexterity as latex and nitrile gloves, but they’re still suitable for some tasks.
They are also less environmentally friendly than latex gloves.
- Extremely smooth and comfortable as they have a looser fit.
- More affordable than latex and nitrile gloves.
- Designed to suit low-risk tasks, making them great for the food industry.
- Latex-free and doesn’t have any other allergies, hence ideal for everyone.
- Poor elasticity.
- Offer low protection against chemicals and bacteria.
- Low biodegradability.
How Long Do Alternatives to Latex Gloves Last?
Nearly all glove types have an expiry date, after which they become useless or less effective.
The dates are a preventive measure for most gloves meant for medical use or food processing.
These gloves don’t readily biodegrade, so you can be sure they’ll last for over 6 years. If you’re lucky, you can find some gloves meant for re-use.
That means they can last up to 10 years with proper storage and maintenance. Ensure you clean such gloves thoroughly, air dry them, and store them in cool, dry places.
Bottom Line: Nitrile Gloves vs Vinyl Gloves?
So what is the best eco-friendly alternative to latex gloves? It’s nitrile gloves since manufacturers are now producing biodegradable nitrile gloves that are safe for the environment.
They are also stronger, thicker, and more durable than latex gloves or vinyl ones.
Besides, vinyl gloves are an inexpensive option to latex and nitrile gloves. But they have lower protection against chemicals and pathogens.
That’s why they’re common in the food industry. However, you can expect them to last longer than latex gloves.
Unlike latex gloves, these alternative gloves to latex don’t cause any allergies, making them great for everyone. Unfortunately, they’re less eco-friendly than latex gloves.
The alternative glove will depend on the task at hand and your budget.