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[Webinar Recap] The 7 Steps to Choosing Disposable Gloves

by Matt on August 2, 2017

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Let’s face it, not every webinar topic can be as exciting as The No BS Approach to Arc Flash, but just because disposable gloves don’t seem exhilarating doesn’t mean that they aren’t an integral part of staying safe in industries from food services to tattooing.

tattoo artist

Unlike other types of safety gloves, disposable gloves not only keep you safe BUT they also keep the people around you safe.

Our decision to do a webinar on these throwaway hand protectors was inspired by our in-depth blog The Ultimate Guide to Disposable Nitrile Gloves: Uses and Prices.

One of the most startling statistics that we found while researching this webinar was that over half of the 20 million Americans who contract norovirus every year get sick from eating ready-to-eat foods that were prepared by food workers who weren’t wearing gloves.

After reading that statistic, anyone who has had food poisoning can appreciate why disposable gloves are so important.

Watch our Webinar: How to Choose Disposable Gloves in 7 Steps.

You’ll have to listen to the 30-minute webinar to learn all 7 steps but we’ll give you a taste with our top 3 favorite takeaways.


1. Choosing the Right Thickness of Glove:

The thickness of a disposable glove is measured in mils (not to be confused with millimeters).

A mil = one thousandth (0.001) of an inch.

Most disposable gloves range from 4 mils to 15 mils but can be as thin as 2 mils.

For reference a dime is 35 mils thick and a plastic bag is 3 mils thick.
plastic bag and dimes

During the early days of disposable gloves, a glove’s thickness had a direct correlation to its tensile strength. This means that thinner gloves were prone to ripping and tearing much faster than thicker gloves.

Thanks to glove innovation and modern technology, today’s disposable gloves are more resistant to tears and snags regardless of the thickness.

The good news here is that you don’t have to choose your desired thickness of glove only based on longevity.

Instead you should be considering your specific task. 

Thinner gloves (4 to 5 mils) are preferred for food industry workers, medical professionals and people working with small parts because those gloves give them more freedom of movement and touch sensivity.

Thicker gloves (8 to 15 mils) are more commonly used by mechanics, tattoo artists, or people working with cleaners, solvents and chemicals. Thicker gloves are better in these circumstances for a variety of reasons. Thicker gloves will:

  • Absorb more of the friction when turning a tool, so your hands won’t get calloused.
  • Provide more protection from accidental pricks for tattoo artists.
  • Length permeation time for any chemicals from reaching your skin.

powdered gloves


2. Powder Versus Powder-Free Gloves:

During the webinar we discussed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban on powdered surgical gloves.

The ban would only refer to medical and surgical grade gloves and only in the United States, meaning other countries and other industries could use a powdered option.

The most important part of the ban is that 2017 wasn’t the first time that the FDA attempted to ban powdered medical gloves.

In 1997, the FDA attempted to pass a similar ban but fears of a market shortage on disposable gloves meant that the ban could not be put in place.

That means that today there are better, safer options for disposable gloves, like chlorination.

Chlorination is a process where the inside of the disposable gloves are treated with chlorine which reduces the tackiness and gives the glove a softer texture. This makes it easier to put on and take off the glove.

Note: In the webinar, we made reference to talcum being used to powder the gloves. Much of the healthcare industry gradually transitioned from talcum to cornstarch because talcum was found to result in postoperative complications like scar tissue or adhesion.

Cornstarch can still pose a threat to workers if used as an aerosolized powder on latex gloves — the aerosol can carry latex proteins into the airway causing respiratory allergic reactions.

However, if used on a non-latex glove, cornstarch is a good alternative to powder-free gloves that is also safe for contact with food.

cornstarch is used to powder disposable gloves


3. Do You Need Color Coding?:

Color coding is particularly useful in industries like food service and food processing.

If a worker doesn’t change gloves between tasks, there’s a risk of transferring microorganisms.

If a worker is handling raw chicken and then begins sorting vegetables, harmful and deadly bacteria, like salmonella, can be transfers.

Different colored gloves would be assigned to different areas of the process to reduce this sort of contamination.

For example:

  • Green gloves for handling cooked food
  • Red gloves for raw meat
  • Blue gloves for produce and bread

By assigning colors to each step of the process, it becomes easier to determine if a glove has been misplaced or if someone is working in the incorrect area.

This level of traceability translates to the prevention of costly recalls and deadly illnesses.

color coding disposable gloves

Ready to Learn More?

Those are three of the seven steps to choosing the right disposable glove, but you still have to learn:

  • Which material is right for you
  • What grade of glove that you need
  • How to choose the right size of glove
  • How much you’re going to pay for gloves

This webinar also includes a question and answer period in case your particular question wasn’t answered in these 7 steps.

Sign up above to watch the whole webinar on-demand.

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