Disposable gloves are standard equipment in the medical, food prep, and cleaning industries. They’re an inexpensive way to protect hands from harmful chemicals, bacteria, viruses, dirt, and other health threats. But disposable gloves aren’t just for the pros. Keep a box of them on hand at home to keep your hands sanitary and germ-free for routine household tasks ranging from cleaning to gardening.
Single-use gloves come in a range of materials and types and have differing levels of protection, comfort, and durability. This guide breaks down these shopping considerations to help you find the best disposable gloves for you.
- BEST OVERALL: Infi-Touch Nitrile Gloves
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AMMEX GlovePlus Industrial Clear Vinyl Gloves
- BEST NITRILE: MedPride Nitrile Exam Gloves
- BEST LATEX: Chef’s Star Disposable Latex Gloves
- BEST VINYL: Medpride Medical Vinyl Examination Gloves
- BEST POLY: Brandon-super Disposable Food Prep Gloves
- BEST FOR FOOD PREP: Clean Ones Disposable HDPE Poly Gloves
Types of Disposable Gloves
There are four basic materials used to make disposable gloves, and each is designed for specific purposes. The material determines the gloves’ protection level and the task for which they’re best suited. All disposable gloves offer some protection against germs, stains, and harsh chemicals.
Latex is a versatile material made from natural rubber. It offers the most comfort, flexibility, fit, and tactile sensitivity in a glove. Latex is a good option for those who want gloves that fit like a second skin. They offer protection against microorganisms and are favored for first aid tasks and gardening.
The biggest downside to latex is that some people are allergic to it, so wearing a pair of latex gloves can cause them to break out in a rash. Latex is not resistant to all chemicals, but it can stand up to most acids, bases, chlorine, iodine, and formaldehyde. It’s a biodegradable material made from a renewable resource, so used latex gloves won’t sit in a landfill for years.
Nitrile is the most versatile material used in disposable gloves. It’s available in many thicknesses and is hypoallergenic, so it’s safe for those with a latex allergy.
Nitrile is resistant to most household chemicals and is not easily punctured or ripped. It’s safe to use in tasks that deal with sharp items, like cleaning up glass shards. Nitrile gloves are flexible, durable, and offer protection against bacteria and viruses.
Nitrile gloves come in a variety of colors that indicate their uses and protection levels. Blue nitrile gloves are a standard in the medical industry, for example, while black nitrile gloves are used in the automotive business.
Vinyl gloves are best suited for low-risk tasks like food prep, cooking, serving, and housekeeping. Vinyl is naturally anti-static, an advantage when you’re working with wires and cords, and they provide dexterity.
Vinyl offers little chemical resistance, but for low-risk tasks where gloves are needed for short periods, vinyl gloves are a great low-cost option.
Poly or polyethylene gloves are an inexpensive solution for food preparation or other low-risk tasks where you don’t need precise dexterity in your hands. They are often over-sized and do not offer a tight, close fit.
Poly gloves are suitable for household tasks such as food prepping that require you to change gloves frequently because they’re easy to pull off. They’re not suitable for medical purposes or contact with chemicals. They are primarily used for food handling or other light-duty tasks. Vinyl gloves are hypoallergenic and powder-free. They’re the least expensive disposable glove option.
What to Consider When Buying Disposable Gloves
The level of protection you’ll get from disposable gloves depends on factors beyond the material type. Factors including thickness, durability, size, and fit must also be taken into consideration. Keep the following factors in mind when choosing the best disposable gloves for you.
How you intend to use disposable gloves affects the choice in material, and to a lesser extent, the durability and thickness of the gloves. When shopping for single-use gloves, you may want to purchase different types for specific tasks around the house, such as nitrile gloves for cleaning the bathroom, and vinyl ones for preparing food.
Consider whether the tasks you plan to wear them for carry a risk of coming in contact with harmful microorganisms, in which case you should go with latex or nitrile gloves. On the other hand, if keeping your hands clean from dirt, grime, or other low-risk substances is your primary concern, vinyl and poly gloves should suffice.
Durability & Thickness
Disposable gloves come in a range of thicknesses measured in mils. A mil is one-thousandth of an inch of thickness, or gauge. Most disposable gloves for household use have a gauge of between 2 and 8 mils. Thinner gauge gloves—between 2 and 4 mils—allow better dexterity and flexibility, but are not as durable. Thicker gloves—6 mils and up—are not as flexible, but offer more protection.
Gloves that don’t fit properly are less comfortable and will have a tougher time protecting your hands. A properly fitted glove will have gripping power and reduce hand fatigue. Materials like latex and nitrile offer more flexibility in hand movement than vinyl or poly gloves.
Most disposable glove sizes range from extra small to extra large. Measure your hand to make sure you buy the right size. Wrap a tape measure around your palm at its widest point and take your measurement in inches. This will give you an estimate of the size you need. Common glove sizings are:
- XS: 7 inches
- S: 7-1/2 to 8 inches
- M: 8-1/2 to 9 inches
- L: 9-1/2 to 10 inches
- XL: 10-1/2 to 11 inches
Powder-Free vs. Powdered
Some disposable latex, nitrile, and vinyl gloves have cornstarch powder added, which makes them easier to put on and prevents gloves from sticking together and to your skin. They’re referred to as powdered gloves and are specified as such in their packaging.
Powder-free gloves can be harder to remove, and it can be difficult to get a firm grip on a small item in a powder-free glove. In general, powder-free gloves are more expensive than powdered ones. Powder-free options usually come with better resistance to chemicals, water, and oil as well.
Since disposable gloves usually fit snugly against your skin, they can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Latex gloves are more likely to cause irritation than other materials because some people are allergic to latex. Nitrile, vinyl, poly, and neoprene are less likely to cause allergic reactions or skin irritation.
Powdered gloves may also cause irritation, but there are plenty of non-powdered disposable gloves available. If you have sensitive skin, stick with non-powder disposable gloves in nitrile and vinyl.
Our Top Picks
Disposable gloves are rated for industrial, medical, or food usage, so select the gloves based on the household task you intend to use them for. These recommendations reflect some of the best disposable gloves available in their respective categories.
Some disposable gloves barely cover your wrists, making it tough to keep liquids from entering while you work. Infi-Touch’s nitrile gloves offer ample wrist coverage to protect your hands and wrists. These powder-free gloves also have an acrylic liner that prevents skin from touching the nitrile layer, making them durable and easy to put on and pull off.
With a 6-mil thickness, these gloves are strong and puncture-resistant. They also feature micro-textured fingertips for maximum gripping power. They’re budget-friendly and suitable for a wide range of household tasks, from cleaning to painting to food preparation. These gloves are available in small, medium, and large sizes in a box containing 100 pairs.
If you need to make frequent glove changes, these vinyl gloves by GlovePlus are an economical choice: this box of 1,000 pairs amounting to great savings by purchasing in bulk. The AMMEX gloves provide ample coverage and offer a looser fit with a smooth, comfortable feel. Constructed from lightweight, 4-mil vinyl, they’re durable and hypoallergenic, offering stellar performance and value.
Although they do offer some dexterity, vinyl gloves are not well-suited for tasks that require high precision and control. The glove cuffs are loose for comfort, but will not keep out liquids. These gloves are suitable for light cleaning tasks and food handling and are resistant to many common household chemicals. They’re also great for beauty tasks like doing nails and dying hair. The AMMEX Industrial Clear Vinyl Gloves are available in medium size only; since they have a loose design, they may be able to fit individuals with larger hands.
These versatile nitrile gloves from Medpride offer a great balance of performance and cost and can be used for a variety of applications. They’re designed for use in the medical industry, but they’re useful for household tasks as well. At 3.5 mils thick, these gloves fall into the light-duty range.
These Medpride gloves have a high puncture resistance and offer chemical, liquid, and gas protection. The gloves provide tactile sensitivity and will work for a variety of tasks including handling common household chemicals, cleaning, food prep, and first aid applications.
Latex gloves are known for feeling like a second skin; made from natural rubber, latex gloves are durable, flexible, and comfortable. The main advantage of latex gloves is they are very tactile, and these ones from Chef’s Star are no exception. While these gloves are not very chemical resistant and there is a potential for an allergic reaction, they have excellent tear-and-cut resistance, making them well suited for professional chefs and home cooks alike.
Chef’s Star Disposable Latex Gloves are a good pick for food prep and other light cleaning tasks. They would also make a good addition to your home first aid kit. These gloves are offered at a reasonable price, considering they’re powder-free. They’re available in a box of 100 in medium size only.
Vinyl offers adequate protection when handling most chemicals, and it’s comfortable to wear. These Medpride gloves are not as flexible as ones made from nitrile or latex, they’re a more budget-friendly option. Although manufactured for medical use, these MedPride gloves have multiple uses in the home. They’re 4 mils thick, putting this glove in the mid-duty range for strength.
Since vinyl has a low rating for chemical resistance, these Medpride gloves are best suited for food preparation, pet care, or any low-risk activity that does not involve harsh chemicals. Vinyl is also naturally antistatic, so the gloves are suited for use in electrical tasks. These gloves come in a box of 100, available in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes. These Medpride gloves are the least expensive vinyl gloves per pair on the list and are especially useful for frequent glove changes.
If you’re tired of your hands smelling like garlic and onions after cooking, or frequent handwashing when cooking for individuals with food sensitivities or allergies, these prep gloves are here to help. For quick tasks that require frequent glove changes, these poly gloves from Brandon-super are up for the challenge.
These poly food prep gloves are made to fit loosely, so you can whip them on and off with ease. They’re not suitable for tasks that require dexterity and precision, nor are they chemical- or heat-resistant. These gloves are best suited for light tasks such as food handling and keeping your hands clean while wiping down counters. The loose fit is not watertight, but if you need to swap gloves to prevent cross-contamination when cooking, these gloves are a convenient and economical choice.
Poly gloves are the go-to choice for commercial kitchens. They are inexpensive and easy to put on and remove in seconds. For tasks that require frequent glove changes, these poly gloves by Clean Ones will only cost three cents per glove.
Clean Ones offers a longer cuff length to keep food debris from entering the glove while you work. It features strong seams and an angled cuff that gives a comfortable fit for most users. These gloves also have a textured surface for added grip. Poly gloves tend to run big—they’re one-size-fits-most—so they may not work for people with small hands.