Disposable gloves v the alternatives

Disposable gloves – what are the alternatives?


Disposable gloves have become frequently used as a result of the COVID pandemic. Their cost in use however, can be high and new reusable glove options may be more environmentally-friendly as well as offering surprisingly good fit and dexterity.

Here is a guide to the pros and cons of different glove types and some suggestions for longer-lasting options.

Disposable gloves

Nitrile gloves


Disposable Finite P/Free Nitrile Gloves Blue, - Various Sizes, £16.95

Pros: Nitrile gloves protect against a good range of chemicals and infectious substances. They are more resistant to oil and have better puncture resistance than latex gloves and less likely to cause allergic reactions. They are also generally less expensive than other gloves.

Cons: They are generally a bit more expensive than latex gloves. Another key issue is that as disposable gloves, they are very harmful to the environment for the reasons set out below which apply to all disposable gloves.

Latex gloves

Pros: Latex gloves offer some protection and they are very cost effective.

Cons: Latex, which is a component of natural rubber can cause allergic reactions not only to the people wearing the gloves but to people eating food which has been prepared by someone using latex gloves.

Benefits of disposable gloves

Disposable gloves are highly useful when it comes to preventing cross contamination. For this reason they have proved very popular during the COVID pandemic and they are also useful and important to use in some working environments such as food processing, particularly when dealing with raw food, or in medical and healthcare settings when it is paramount to prevent infectious substances from spreading.

Environmental issues with disposable gloves

They are made from synthetic polymers which will take thousands of years to break down, particularly in a landfill site, where most disposable gloves end up as there is no sunlight. Also, there will be additional chemicals used to make up approximately 10 per cent of the material. In disposable gloves, made to be used for a short period of time, these 10% materials tend to break down more quickly, which is harmful when they are in a landfill site (or just littered in the general environment) because it means the smaller microplastics can be washed into the watercourse, where they harm marine and wildlife and eventually end up in our own foodchain.

Longer lasting gloves may be made out of synthetic polymers, but because they are designed to be used for a longer period of time, fewer gloves end up in landfill sites or being littered, and because they do take longer to breakdown, fewer microplastics will be washed into the watercourse in the short term.

Longer lasting gloves:

Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) gloves

Pros: Protect the skin from cuts and burns if using tools or many cleaning chemicals.

Cons: They cannot be used with alcohol and can degrade if left in water.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) gloves


PVC 30cm Cotton lined Chemical Gauntlet Blue, - Various Sizes £3.63

[https://www.cornishindustrial.co.uk/product-page/pvc-30cm-cotton-lined-chemical-gauntlet-blue-various-sizes]

Pros: This thick polymer can protect from chemicals, oils, and they are extremely puncture resistant.

Cons: PVC is a toxic plastic, so with this in mind it is best to get high quality PVC gloves that will last a very long time so you do not continuously contribute to plastic pollution by disposing of lower quality gloves.

Click here to see our full range of chemical and janitorial gloves: https://www.cornishindustrial.co.uk/chemical-janitorial-gloves

Neoprene gloves


Guy Cotten Neoprene cuffs, Small, Medium or Large

£16.91 [https://www.cornishindustrial.co.uk/product-page/guy-cotten-neoprene-cuffs-small-medium-or-large]

Pros: Fully neoprene gloves (check the label) are resistant against chemicals and abrasions.The can be used for cleaning, painting and dyeing and many other applications.

Cons: Sweaty hands can cause mould on these gloves and not all of them can be machine washed, which means they need to be hand washed and air dried after use.

Kevlar® gloves


Kevlar Showa Gloves - Various Sizes, £9.46

[https://www.cornishindustrial.co.uk/product-page/kevlar-showa-gloves-various-sizes]


Pros Kevlar® is a very strong material often used in the food processing industry due to good protection against cuts and also the fact it is resistant to many chemicals and can be washed and cleaned for up to 10 years without degrading.

Cons: Kevlar® doesn not react well to bleach or sunlight so care must be taken w