Best Medical-Grade Gloves

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
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300 Consumers Consulted
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best medical-grade gloves

Last Updated September 2020

If you handle chemicals or interact closely with people on the job, you are at greater risk for exposure to hazardous contaminants. To help protect yourself, you can wear medical-grade gloves, which act as a physical barrier to keep those contaminants off your hands.

When purchasing medical-grade gloves, the first element you will want to consider is material. Medical-grade gloves are typically made of vinyl, latex, or nitrile. Of course, if you have a latex allergy, you’ll need to avoid gloves made of that material. The best medical-grade gloves fit comfortably and allow you to work without hindrance. Beyond material and comfort, there are a number of other factors to consider. 

If you would like to know what to look for in medical-grade gloves, the different types of medical-grade gloves, which industries need them, and why it is important to wear them, keep reading. If you’re looking for some quick recommendations on quality medical-grade gloves, consider the options we spotlight in this article.

It is vital to be diligent regarding the condition of your medical-grade gloves. Numerous studies have found that up to 90% of perforations in disposable gloves go unnoticed or undetected.

Key considerations

Material

 

Vinyl

Vinyl gloves cost less than latex and nitrile gloves, making them a good option for people on a budget. These gloves offer protection against blood-borne pathogens as well as chemicals, but they have a looser fit than latex and nitrile gloves. One of the pros of wearing vinyl gloves is that there is no rubber used in the manufacturing process, so allergic reactions are nearly nonexistent.

Latex

Latex gloves offer the best and most comfortable fit. These types of gloves are elastic, so they snap back into their original shape. Latex offers an effective barrier against a wide variety of hazardous substances. It is arguably the most eco-friendly material of the three materials, too. Unfortunately, latex produces allergic reactions in some individuals that may be life-threatening. Because of this, many people believe it is wiser (and safer) to use a latex alternative.

Nitrile

Nitrile isn't quite as comfortable as latex, but it comes close. As the material heats up, it conforms to the user's hand, which helps increase comfort and dexterity. Nitrile is resistant to both chemical and biological hazards, and it is puncture resistant. Although some people can be allergic to nitrile, it is often trace elements of latex that cause the issue. Be sure the nitrile gloves you purchase are labeled latex-free. 

One big pro for using nitrile gloves is that they can be recycled. This is typically done through a special service and requires the gloves to be discarded in a dedicated container.

EXPERT TIP

To test medical gloves for quality, manufacturers fill the gloves with water and hang them upside down to determine if they have any pinhole leaks.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Following is a list of important features and other elements you will need to consider before purchasing the best medical-grade gloves for your needs.

Size

If the medical-grade gloves you purchase are too large, you will be more prone to accidents caused by improper fit. If the gloves are too small, you could damage them while putting them on and render them ineffective (a pinhole is all it takes). Typical sizes are small, medium, large, and extra-large.

Length

Most medical-grade gloves do not extend very far past your wrists. However, some brands offer a longer sleeve. If you would benefit from a longer sleeve, there are products to suit you, though you might have to search a little harder to find the right one.

Sterile vs. non-sterile

A sterile glove is only required for invasive procedures. It is possible to purchase sterile medical-grade gloves, but these do not offer any appreciable added benefit in non-surgical situations.

Powdered

At one point, medical-grade gloves used powder to facilitate putting them on. As of January 18, 2017, however, the FDA banned the use of powdered gloves, finding them to present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury. If you stumble across medical-grade gloves containing powder, do not purchase them.

Color

Besides style, color is an important, if not crucial, element that can help guide your workforce to quickly determine the proper glove for the task. For more information on the importance of color, see the FAQ section.

DID YOU KNOW?

The average health care worker never knows for certain when they may be exposed to bodily fluids. Therefore, the safest practice is to always wear medical-grade gloves when examining a patient, even if that patient appears healthy.

Accessories

There are two main accessories you will need to accompany medical-grade gloves: a dispenser and a waste bin. Alternatively, if you purchase nitrile gloves and have access to a recycling program, the waste bin can be used as a dedicated collection bin for the nitrile gloves to be recycled.

Dispenser: Kantek Acrylic Glove Dispenser
This clear acrylic glove dispenser can hold up to three boxes of disposable medical gloves. Using the four pre-drilled holes, you can mount the unit vertically or horizontally (mounting hardware not included).

Waste bin: Eagle Polyethylene Safety Can with Foot Lever 
This safety bin meets OSHA standards for blood-borne pathogens and infectious waste. It is manufactured using high-density polyethylene and is therefore dent resistant. Additionally, this bin features a foot pedal for hands-free operation.

EXPERT TIP

Individuals who wish to increase the protection factor of their medical-grade gloves may engage in a practice called double-gloving, though this practice is typically reserved for operating room personnel who are wearing surgical gloves.


Staff  | BestReviews

Medical-grade glove prices

Two factors tend to have the greatest impact on the cost of medical-grade gloves: the material used and the quantity that you purchase. Vinyl exam gloves, for example, can cost as much as 50% less than latex and nitrile exam gloves. 

Inexpensive: If you're looking to purchase a box of 100 medical-grade gloves, vinyl gloves most often can be found in the $10 to $15 range ($0.10 to $0.15 per pair).

Mid-range: A box of 100 nitrile gloves is likely to cost between $15 and $25 ($0.15 to $0.25 per pair).

Expensive: If you need 1,000 vinyl gloves, expect to spend between $60 and $70 ($0.06 to $0.07 per pair). The same quantity of latex or nitrile gloves could range from $100 to $150 ($0.10 to $0.15 per pair).

Keep in mind that to save money, up to 50% per pair, it is better to purchase medical-grade gloves in bulk. 

How to remove medical-grade gloves

The whole point of wearing medical-grade gloves is to protect yourself from contamination. If you do not learn how to safely remove your gloves, you could actually increase your risk of contamination. Following is the best method for removing exam gloves.

  • While wearing both gloves, pinch the palm of one glove between your fingers. It is crucial that you have only glove-to-glove contact.

  • Slowly pull the glove off, making certain to turn it inside out as you go.

  • Once the glove has been fully removed, ball it up in the palm of your still-gloved hand. Perform this action using the gloved hand only.

  • Carefully slip your index finger inside the still-gloved hand. Pull the glove out so you can use your thumb to pinch the glove. It is crucial that you only touch the inside of the glove.

  • Slowly pull this glove off so it turns inside out, keeping the first glove safely balled in the middle.

  • Deposit contaminated gloves in a designated medical waste receptacle. The receptacle should feature hands-free operation.

  • Before touching anything else, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and running water.

Expiration dates for medical-grade gloves are not mandated by the FDA. In general, when stored properly (cool and dry), latex lasts up to three years while nitrile can last closer to five years.

FAQ

Q. Are medical-grade gloves and exam-grade gloves the same thing?
A. Yes. Another term for medical-grade gloves is exam-grade gloves. These are the gloves worn for non-surgical medical procedures, such as examinations. Medical-grade gloves undergo rigorous testing by the FDA to ensure they have acceptable quality limits (AQL) to provide a safe barrier of protection against pathogens.
 

Q. What is AQL?
A. It is a predetermined and agreed-upon number of acceptable defects per batch. If the AQL was 5.0 and you had a batch of 100 items, up to five of those items could be defective before the entire batch gets rejected. The best medical-grade gloves feature an AQL of 1.5 or lower.
 

Q. Which industries use medical-grade gloves?
A. Medical-grade gloves are used extensively in the healthcare industry, including dental offices, nursing homes, and laboratories. Additionally, medical-grade gloves should be worn in any industry that has a risk of biological hazard contamination. This would include individuals who offer various beauty services, including tattoo artists. Another industry that can benefit from medical-grade gloves is the food service industry.
 

Q. What is the benefit of using medical-grade gloves of different colors?
A. One benefit of using different colors is to create a color code so workers can easily distinguish between different materials (vinyl, latex, and nitrile). Also, color coding can be used to reduce the risk of cross contamination in a lab. Workers in workrooms and cleanrooms, for example, should wear gloves of different colors. 

Also, when practicing double-gloving, wearing a brighter color glove on the inside will make it easier to determine if there is any damage to the outer layer.

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