What's the difference between Nitrile and Latex gloves?

Disposable gloves are available with lots of different options for different applications. Nitrile gloves or Latex gloves might be perfect for you, but what's the difference? They're manufactured using different materials and designed to suit different environments and situations, which can make deciding on the best gloves to choose a bit confusing!

Nitrile v Latex Gloves

So, should you choose Nitrile or Latex gloves?

The answer to this depends on what you intend to do. For example you don't need sterile gloves to work in a garage, and thin budget gloves are't suitable for clinical or care use. Let's take a look at both individually, to help you decide.

What are Latex Gloves?

Latex Gloves

Latex gloves are manufactured from natural rubber latex, which is a natural product derived mainly from the Hevea Brasiliensis or "Rubber Tree". Latex, and therefore latex gloves are naturally stretchy and flexible which provides high levels of tensile strength. During manufacture a rubber compound is used containing different levels of natural latex, which defines the flexibility of the glove. Latex generally is tolerant to oils and chemicals, as well as being flexible and tactile depending on the compound composition. A good resistant Latex glove are the Geka Sandstone Heavy Duty Latex Gloves.

Different thicknesses and treatments, such as chlorination, can be used in the production of latex gloves altering their characteristics. Chlorination to the outer surface of the glove removes any tackiness for a smoother finish. This means they're easier to put on and take off.

What are Nitrile Gloves?

Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile is a synthetic rubber with a high resistance to oils, fuels and other chemicals. This gives Nitrile gloves the advantage over Latex gloves if working with chemicals, fuels, adhesives or oils. They look and feel very similar to Latex gloves, bringing the added benefit of being free from natural latex proteins. Nitrile gloves are often the preferred glove for anyone who suffers from Latex Sensitisation.

Nitrile gloves are designed and manufactured in a wide variety of colours and styles, with different features that are useful for specific industries. For example white nitrile gloves like Halyard Sterling offer high contrast which can be written on when taking down quick medical notes. While gloves like Halyard Basics Blue are suitable for food preparation and processing and black Nitrile gloves such as Geka Eclipse SD are preferred by tattoo artists or dairy workers for identifying mastitis in cows.

Disposable Nitrile gloves are available in a variety of thicknesses which provide different strengths and protection from different chemicals. Generally Nitrile gloves have a high resistance to chemicals or acids than Latex gloves however, check whether the chemicals you are using are specifically covered by the glove you choose.

Nitrile v Latex Glove Comparison

Latex Gloves:

  • Natural product.
  • Stretchy and flexible.
  • Easy to put on and take off.
  • Medium tolerance to chemicals and oils.


Nitrile Gloves:

  • Synthetic product.
  • No Latex sensitivity.
  • Easy to put on and take off.
  • High tolerance to chemicals and oils.