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Chemical-Resistant Gloves: Types, Tips and Tools

by Bill Soellner

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Safety standards mandate that appropriate hand protection is compulsory when hands are exposed to hazards such as harmful substances, severe cuts, lacerations or abrasions, punctures, chemical or thermal burns and harmful temperature extremes.
When it comes to chemical-resistant gloves, proper selection is imperative for ensuring worker safety and preventing skin absorption that can lead to serious complications and/or injuries.

It’s important to match the right glove material with each application or task. You first have to assess the job for chemical exposures, and then select the appropriate chemical-resistant glove based on material, length, thickness, and other properties.
Because many factors come into play with various applications and related job duties, workers are often exposed to a variety of chemicals. In those instances, choose a glove that is most resistant to the chemicals being used for each separate chemical… this means you may need to change gloves as you move on to a different task.
Listed below you’ll find an overview of the most common types of chemical-resistant glove materials. Use these to help navigate the options.

And remember, ANSI/ISEA 105-2011, American National Standard for Hand Protection Selection Criteria, provides guidance for selecting appropriate gloves for identifiable workplace hazards that could result in chemical burns, severe cuts and lacerations, and burns caused by heat and flame exposures.

Supported vs. Unsupported:

Chemical-resistant gloves can be fabricated as supported or unsupported. Unsupported means that the glove was manufactured by dipping a porcelain form directly into a material or polymer; no supporting liner is used. Unsupported chemical-resistant gloves provide enhanced dexterity and tactile sensitivity. Supported means that a material or polymer is dipped onto a knitted liner. Supported chemical-resistant gloves provide enhanced comfort, strength and durability.


Natural rubber (latex) has a very high elasticity compared to other glove materials, excellent cut, puncture and tear resistance, and outstanding grip and temperature resistance. It withstands water, alcohols, and some ketones, but has poor chemical resistance against most hydrocarbon and organic solvents. It can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Applications: Janitorial, Food Processing, General Maintenance
√ Good For: Ketones and mild acids.

Nitrile rubber is a co-polymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene. It offers excellent physical-hazard resistance to punctures, cuts, snags and abrasion. Nitrile rubber has considerable resistance to oils, fuels, and certain organic solvents. It is commonly used as a coating for dipped gloves and also in the construction of laminated, impregnated cut-and-sewn gloves. In addition, nitrile chemical-resistant gloves also provide outstanding wet or dry grip. All these properties combined make nitrile gloves well suited for the toughest industrial jobs.
Applications: Chemical Handling, Auto Assembly, Petro-Chemical, Food Processing
√ Good For: Oils, greases, petroleum products and some acids and caustics.

3. PVC
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a thermoplastic polymer of vinyl chloride. An ideal alternative for those with latex allergies, PVC chemical-resistant gloves offer good abrasion resistance, but may be susceptible to punctures, cuts, and snags. While it is flexible, it does not provide the tactile sensitivity associated with most rubber products. PVC starts to soften at approximately 82˚C (180˚F). PVC is effective against water and most aqueous solutions, detergents, and diluted bases and acids, but has limited chemical resistance to organic solvents. PVC is one of the more common coatings for coated work gloves.
Applications: General Maintenance, Fisheries, Construction, Janitorial and Gardening
√ Good For: Most acids, fats and petroleum hydrocarbons.

The trade name for chloroprene, DuPont™ Neoprene polychloroprene is an extremely versatile synthetic rubber and the first commercial synthetic rubber created. Neoprene is exceptionally flexible and has good abrasion and cut resistance, while resisting the effects of aging, sunlight, ozone, oxidation and weather.
Applications: Automotive, Degreasing, Mechanical, Janitorial
√ Good For: Some acids and caustics.

As synthetic rubbers, butyl and viton/butyl provide the highest permeation resistance and extreme chemical protection, especially around chlorinated solvents and aromatic chemicals. Despite the heavy-duty protection, our butyl and viton/butyl gloves do not inhibit dexterity.
Applications: Petrochemical, Chemical Industry
√ Good For: Esters and ketones, chlorinated and aromatic solvents.

If you need assistance selecting the appropriate chemical-resistant glove or would like more information on our products, please call us direct at (800) 265-7617 or send an email to sales@superiorglove.com.

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Reader Comments

I agree that Latex Disposable Gloves are made of natural rubber. These gloves are flexible and protect your hands from germs.

Reply Allen Lavoie - May 7, 2013

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