Glove Selection

Identify the hazards of the chemicals or material you plan to work with

  • Some factors to consider include: chemical type, extreme temperatures, cryogenic properties, physical hazards, pH, toxicity, and infectious potential of biological hazards.
  • Consult the SDS for each chemical or product you work with for additional information on glove selection.

All gloves are permeable

  • Permeation is dependent on many factors including the material handled, extent and length of contact.
  • Glove composition, thickness, fatigue and conditions of use also factor into glove effectiveness.

There is no such thing as an "ideal" chemically resistant glove

  • Some gloves may offer superior protection but limit dexterity and tactile sensitivity or be prone to tears or punctures.

Sometimes it’s best to wear two pairs of gloves

  • Reusable gloves (ex. Nitrile, Neoprene, Butyl or Viton) can be worn over flexible laminate gloves to combine the advantages of both.

Consult the manufacturer’s chemical resistance guide

  • In most cases the information provided includes degradation (a measure of the gloves tendency to swell, discolor or otherwise change due to chemical contact) and permeation.
  • Permeation describes how some chemicals can pass through a glove on a molecular level. Chemicals can oftentimes permeate gloves without causing visible change.

Understand the difference between reusable and disposable gloves

  • Disposable gloves are thin single use gloves generally 4 - 8 mils thick compared to reusable gloves which are 18 - 28 mils thick (1 mil = 1/1000 inch).
  • Disposable gloves are not suitable for handling aggressive or highly hazardous chemicals and should never be re-used.
  • Whenever a disposable glove comes in contact with hazardous chemicals it should be removed followed by thorough hand washing and new gloves for continued work. Contaminated gloves should always be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Care of reusable gloves

  • In the lab most chemical handling does not require immersion or extensive/prolonged contact. As a result it is normally not necessary to replace heavy-duty gloves after each use.
  • Before removing reusable gloves, thoroughly rinse them off and then allow to air dry.
  • Inspect reusable gloves before each use for discoloration, cracking, or damage (punctures or pin holes) and discard if discovered.
  • If you suspect they have become contaminated bag them for disposal as hazardous waste.

Glove Comparison Guide

  • Consult this chart for an overview of commonly used glove types for laboratory use and their general advantages and disadvantages