Nitrile Gloves
Vinyl Gloves

  • 5 minute read
  • 26 March, 2020
  • Donald Gillespie

For over 30 years, Unigloves has been producing disposable safety gloves for a huge range of industries. Today, nitrile and vinyl are two of the most popular choices for disposable gloves, and each has its own merits. From medical use to food preparation, automotive work, and more. Selecting the correct glove depends on the industry in question, as well as factors relating to workers, such as dexterity, comfort, and ease of use.

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In our years of experience, we’ve developed a deep understanding of the needs of our customers, and know that choosing the right glove means not only avoiding unnecessary risk to workers but can also mean increasing productivity, lowering costs, and even reducing risks to end-users and customers. Here, we cover the key uses and benefits of nitrile gloves vs vinyl gloves, to help you choose the right type of glove for your application – without compromising on quality, comfort, or value.  


Nitrile gloves and their applications

Nitrile is a synthetic rubber (or ‘man-made’) compound composed of acrylonitrile, butadiene and carboxylic acid monomers. This man-made rubber is free from natural rubber latex (NRL), and thus, offers a great alternative to latex, as it is safe for use by those suffering from latex allergies.

Medical worker using nitrile gloves - Unigloves

Nitrile gloves are often classed as medical-grade or examination gloves, and the monomers used in nitrile gloves allow for a high level of resistance to a range of hazards, including oil-based chemicals and solvents, and biohazards (such as blood, viruses and other infectious material). Nitrile gloves are also strong and flexible, making them more puncture resistant relative to latex or vinyl gloves. 

<<< Download Our Free Disposable Nitrile Gloves Guide >>>

Nitrile gloves have seen a surge in popularity in recent years due to advances in manufacturing which have seen them become more flexible and comfortable with a high degree of touch sensitivity, meaning that contemporary nitrile gloves are more latex-like in feel and fit. This is especially important in roles where extended use is necessary. In fact, nitrile gloves are increasingly being used in fields where latex gloves have traditionally been favoured; these include medical and hygiene fields such as nursing and dentistry, as well as in automotive industries, tattooing and piercing.

Tattoo artist using nitrile gloves - Unigloves

Nitrile gloves are available in powdered or powder-free varieties and come in a variety of colours which make puncture detection easy. Another of the key features of nitrile over latex gloves is that the material tends to tear rather than pinhole puncture, adding to the ease of puncture detection.

Nitrile glove attributes include:

  • Chemical resistance against a range of hazardous chemicals
  • High levels of durability and puncture resistance (versus latex or vinyl gloves)
  • Medical grade (if to EN455 standard)
  • Latex-free
  • Protection against biohazards and infectious material
  • Are most puncture resistant
  • Mould to your hand for a greater fit
  • Available in powdered or powder-free varieties
  • Available in a range of colours
  • Have a long shelf life

Our PRO.TECT Orange HD gloves were recently awarded the Best Buy score of 9/10, beating 11 other heavy-duty gloves on the market in an independent glove test. This is one of our most popular nitrile gloves, due to the high level of comfort, grip and durability they offer. Shop the full PRO.TECT range here.

<<< Download Our Free Disposable Nitrile Gloves Guide >>>

Vinyl gloves and their applications

Vinyl gloves are a synthetic disposable glove made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). This type of glove is widely available, generally a less expensive option, and offers protection against a range of household and industrial hazards. Typically less durable than latex or nitrile gloves, vinyl gloves are usually used for shorter periods of time and preferred in fields where loose fit and ease of use are important, but where durability and protection are less of a concern. These include food preparation, cleaning, assistance and care, manufacturing and processing, painting and dyeing fields.

Nitrile gloves in use for cleaning an office plant.applications

Due to their composition, vinyl gloves are also less elastic than nitrile or latex gloves and are therefore less form-fitting and can shift around on the hands.

Although vinyl gloves are often used in the food industry, it is worth noting that they are not approved for use with fatty foods. For this reason, certain food processing and handling firms often prefer the use of nitrile gloves.

Vinyl glove attributes include:

  • Flexible and easy to use
  • Latex-free
  • Inexpensive
  • Preferred for short-term, low-risk tasks
  • Have a looser fit

One of our most popular Unigloves product ranges is the Unicare range, featuring a selection of medical grade vinyl gloves and includes food-approved options which meet both EN1186 and EN420 standards. The low-friction inner polymer coating used in our Unicare range makes for easy donning, and our beaded cuffs offer extra strength and tear resistance. Explore the full Unicare range here.


Nitrile gloves vs vinyl gloves – Why choosing the right glove is so important

Both nitrile and vinyl gloves offer a great safety glove solution, depending on the field of work in question. The nitrile gloves vs vinyl gloves debate usually comes down to three factors: cost, comfort, and level of protection.

Although vinyl gloves tend to be a more cost-effective option in the short term, their lack of durability can mean spending more over time. See our recent article discussing glove quality and price for more information on the hidden costs of cheaper gloves.

Another important factor to consider when choosing gloves, especially when it comes to choosing a manufacturer, is quality. In 2019, an urgent recall was issued for Danone’s Cow & Gate baby food, after it was found to contain small particles of nitrile synthetic rubber. Incidents like these prove just how important it is to select a glove manufacturer with an excellent record for quality.   

Image of Chris Wahlers“By understanding both our distributors’ and our end-users’ needs, anticipating how they will evolve in the future, and focusing on hand protection solutions for them in the long-term, we can build on the Unigloves brand promise: “Safety through quality.”

Chris Wahlers, Unigloves Managing Director, UK


Since 1989, Unigloves has been protecting hands and preventing the spread of disease. Today, we are one of Europe’s most trusted and respected gloves manufacturers. Our range of disposable nitrile and vinyl gloves are second to none, and offer our customers great value, comfort, and ease of wear, without compromising on quality. Browse our range of nitrile and vinyl gloves to find the perfect glove for your application today.

<<< Download Our Free Disposable Nitrile Gloves Guide >>>

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