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Types of Disposable Gloves

Disposable gloves are an important part of maintaining a successful food safety program for any foodservice establishment. There are many different types of single-use gloves available, so which ones are right for you? We'll cover the different types of disposable gloves and explain their important features to help you find the best gloves for your commercial kitchen.

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Food Grade Gloves

When it comes to handling food, there are many types of food safe disposable gloves on the market. Before you choose the right single-use glove, keep these considerations in mind:

What Are Food Safe Gloves? All the gloves on our list are available in food-grade options, which means they are rated for safe food handling.

Powdered vs Powder-Free: Powdered gloves contain a coating of corn starch inside the glove. This makes it easy to slide the glove on and off but also presents a contamination issue if the powder leaves a residue on equipment and food. Currently, powdered gloves are banned for medical-grade use. Many recommend only using powder-free gloves for foodservice to eliminate the risk that cornstarch powder will contaminate food.

Is Latex Safe? Latex gloves have benefits, but they aren't safe for everyone. Those with a latex allergy can experience a serious reaction when exposed to latex. Check your state and local jurisdictions for specific legislation related to the use of latex gloves before using these in your business.

Best Disposable Gloves

Learn about the most popular types of disposable gloves and what makes each type unique. Some gloves are better for light-duty use while others are more durable. In certain applications, a tight-fitting glove is preferable, but a loose fit can be beneficial when gloves are frequently removed. We'll cover the types of single-use gloves and their features below:

Restaurant Equipment

1. Nitrile Gloves

Disposable nitrile gloves are made from nitrile rubber, a synthetic material that provides superior resistance to chemicals and oils. These flexible gloves are puncture-resistant, making them ideal for tough industrial and janitorial jobs. You'll see black nitrile gloves used frequently in hair salons and tattoo shops, but they're also a great option for foodservice. 
Nitrile gloves provide a snug fit with tactile sensitivity, which makes them comfortable to wear for long periods without irritation. They also have a long shelf-life, so these gloves will maintain their integrity over time.

Are Nitrile Gloves Food Safe? Yes

Do Nitrile Gloves Contain Latex? No

Are Nitrile Gloves Powder-Free? Yes

Best Applications for Nitrile Gloves: General purpose, food prep, cooking, janitorial, industrial, exam-grade options

Restaurant Equipment

2. Latex Gloves

For many years, latex gloves were considered the best option for single-use gloves thanks to their flexibility and strength. They conform tightly to the hand, providing tactile sensitivity that's ideal for handling small objects. The downside of latex is the potential to cause allergic reactions, which becomes a safety issue for guests and employees who are exposed to latex.

Latex gloves are now banned in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Illinois also has a ban in place, but they offer a concession for foodservice businesses unable to source non-latex gloves. Prominent signage must be in place to alert customers that latex gloves are used in the operation. 

Are Latex Gloves Food Safe? Yes

Are Latex Gloves Powder-Free? Powder-free options are available

Best Applications for Latex Gloves: General purpose, food prep, cooking, janitorial, exam-grade options (except where banned)

Restaurant Equipment

3. Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves are a cost-effective alternative to nitrile or latex gloves. They provide a safe level of protection at a more affordable price, which is essential when buying in bulk. Vinyl is also durable and tear-resistant, reducing the risk of torn gloves.

You can find vinyl gloves offered in a range of thicknesses that are rated for different applications. Thicker vinyl gloves are suitable for medical and exam purposes. Powder-free options are the best choice for food prep.

Are Vinyl Gloves Food Safe? Yes

Do Vinyl Gloves Contain Latex? No

Are Vinyl Gloves Powder-Free? There are powder-free options available

Best Applications for Vinyl Gloves: General purpose, food prep, cooking, janitorial

Restaurant Equipment

4. Poly Gloves

Poly gloves are made from polyethylene plastic, a thinner material compared to nitrile, vinyl, and latex. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just makes poly gloves more suitable for light-duty tasks. You won't get the same level of tear resistance with poly, but you get a thin, lightweight glove that is easy to take off quickly. 

Use polyethylene gloves for food prep tasks when gloves need to be changed often and you don't need chemical resistance. Poly gloves are also one of the most economical disposable gloves on our list.

Are Poly Gloves Food Safe? Yes

Do Poly Gloves Contain Latex? No

Are Poly Gloves Powder-Free? Yes

Best Applications for Poly Gloves: Food prep only

Restaurant Equipment

5. Hybrid Gloves

Hybrid gloves are made with vinyl and nitrile. The benefit of combining these two materials is a glove with the durability of nitrile at a more affordable price. These gloves are smoother and more flexible than vinyl and not as opaque as nitrile.

Choose vinyl/nitrile hybrid gloves to get the best of both worlds. Nitrile gloves are very popular, but they are also one of the most expensive options. Hybrid gloves make a great alternative.

Are Hybrid Gloves Food Safe? Yes

Do Hybrid Gloves Contain Latex? No

Are Hybrid Gloves Powder-Free? Yes

Best Applications for Hybrid Gloves: General purpose, food prep, cooking, janitorial

Restaurant Equipment

6. CPE Gloves

CPE is a type of polyethylene with enhanced durability. Gloves made with CPE have all the same benefits as poly gloves, with greater flexibility and strength. They're affordable, lightweight, and easy to remove after food prep tasks.

Just like disposable poly gloves, CPE gloves are best for light-duty tasks like prep work and food handling.

Are CPE Gloves Food Safe? Yes

Do CPE Gloves Contain Latex? No

Are CPE Gloves Powder-Free? Yes

Best Applications for CPE Gloves: Food prep only

Restaurant Equipment

7. TPE Gloves

TPE stands for thermoplastic elastomer, a material that creates a smooth, flexible single-use glove. Gloves made with TPE are lightweight and comfortable like poly gloves but provide elasticity similar to vinyl gloves.

Choose TPE gloves for a more affordable option that flexes with the hand as it moves. Unlike regular poly gloves, TPE gloves can also be used for light cleaning tasks.

Are TPE Gloves Food Safe? Yes

Do TPE Gloves Contain Latex? No

Are TPE Gloves Powder-Free? Yes

Best Applications for TPE Gloves: General purpose, food prep, light janitorial

Comparing Disposable Gloves

Use the chart below to compare the features of disposable gloves.

graphic comparing types of disposable gloves
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.

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