Buyers' guide to disposable gloves - helping you make the right choices

Buyers' guide to disposable gloves - helping you make the right choices

This guide includes:

lady wearing gloves holding a syringe

Trusted by 100,000s of Care Homes and Nurseries, our gloves comply to BS EN 455 Parts 1,2&3 to give you total confidence. Here's why this standard is so important...


EN 455-1 tests for minute holes made during production, using a water leak test that is carried out with AQL statistical sampling techniques. Important because: A glove is meant to be a barrier – if it has holes of any size this barrier is compromised, and no longer a form of protection from cross-contamination. It is vital that the amount of pin holes is kept to a minimum so that the AQL level is never higher than 1.5

EN 455-2 tests physical properties such as dimensions (length & width) and force at break both before and after heat ageing. Important because: This standard ensures consistency of size across different brands. It also ensures that the gloves are made to the correct length so that it covers the entire hand, or arm if necessary. It also tests the strength of the glove to avoid tearing.

EN 455-3 tests biological evaluation, measuring endotoxin contamination of sterile gloves, powder residue for powder free gloves and leach-able proteins in rubber latex gloves. Important because: This test helps people with allergies to certain substances. It defines which chemicals have been used to make the glove, which may cause irritation when wearing.

EN 455-4 tests the methods for establishing the validity (shelf life) of the gloves, and how it should be labelled, as gloves degrade over time and if stored incorrectly. 5 years is the maximum shelf life that a glove should have from the date of manufacture. Important because: This test tells you the expiry date of the gloves, so that you are not at risk of using gloves that may have deteriorated.

Choosing the right glove type is not as simple as buying at the lowest price. A number of critical factors should be considered, such as understanding the about glove performance, how to get the best fit, and which glove best fits the task. This Buyers Guide covers it all.

gompels diposable gloves

Sizing and application

The importance of correctly fitting gloves

So you've decided which type of glove is best for the task, now it's vital that you get the right size. Getting this wrong will increase the likelihood of injury or contamination. Too big and the loose fitting material will reduce dexterity and grip, too small and you risk ripping or puncturing your glove as well as decreasing hand flexibility.

measuring your hand for gloves

How to test the fit:

While wearing your gloves, extend your fingers until they are straight. If the glove is too small the nitrile or latex will be stretching or if you see tears forming in the material where your thumb meets your palm.

Glove application

Firstly ensure you're in a clean area with clean freshly washed hands, free from any contamination risk, as any germs will transfer to and through the glove. Using your knuckles, as opposed to your fingertips to pull the glove on means you won't tear it. Roll your fingers to use the backs of your knuckles, not your fingertips.​

glove application

Effective hand hygiene

Our Guide To Hand Hygiene video has been compiled to help you optimise your hygiene protocol. Additionally, use a UV Hand Washing kit to test hands and worktops for hidden dirt and bacteria, after cleansing.

hand hygiene video and products

Comparison Chart

gloves comparison chart

Double gloving

Wearing two layers of medical gloves will reduce the danger of infection from glove failure or penetration by sharp objects and needles during medical procedures. Double gloving has been proven to offer significantly more protection compared to the use of a single glove layer.

Usage Symbols

gloves usage symbols

Myths about gloves

glove with question mark

All gloves are the same

WRONG - dependent on the material used, each type best suited for different tasks.

More texture = better grip

WRONG - the grip is enhanced not by texture but by the level of chlorination treatment they have during production.

They remain safe to use for prolonged periods

WRONG - gloves can develop holes within minutes of wearing them, and the wrong size causes stress which also results in tears.

Gloves are made 100% of one material

WRONG - gloves can have up to 10% of additives

Gloves by task:

Gloves for carers

Medical Grade Vinyl Gloves and Latex Gloves are the most common gloves used across the Care Sector. Latex Gloves are popular for being strong whilst providing great sensitivity when performing precise tasks. They often have textured finger and palm areas which provide enhanced grip. Latex Gloves should conform to BS EN455, Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4, so make sure you look out for this when buying your gloves. Medical Grade Vinyl Gloves are strong and a great for day to day tasks. Being latex free they are ideal for latex allergy sufferers. Medical Grade Vinyl Gloves are a lot cheaper than other glove variations, and conform to BS EN 455 parts 1, 2, 3 & 4.elderly lady and carer

Wound cleansing dentists working on a patient

Our Sterile Powder Free Nitrile Gloves are the best option if you are dealing with open wounds. These gloves can often be found in a First-aid Kit, or can be purchased separately. They are however, can be more expensive due to being individually wrapped. These also conform to BS EN 455 parts 1, 2, 3 & 4.

Cleaning with chemicals lady holding gompels antibacterial spray

Chemicals can be harmful to the skin, especially if you suffer with sensitive skin. So, as many people are different here are three types of gloves you can use in this situation.

Rubber Gloves are ideal for people who suffer with reactions to cleaning chemicals. They are almighty thick, cover most of the forearm and not to mention they are super comfy. Best suited for heavier janitorial tasks that require better protection.

Nitrile Gloves offer a better resistance to oils, acids and most household chemicals, making them an ideal alternative. However they are quite expensive in comparison.

Did you know?
You can also buy Heavy Duty Nitrile Gloves which protect against sharps or whilst using more aggressive chemicals.

Food preparationchopping fruit on a chopping board

Kitchens are full of legislative rules and hygiene standards, so it's useful to know which gloves will suit your situation best.

Blue Vinyl Gloves are ideal for kitchen environments, easily located due to the bright colour, similar to blue plasters!

Nitrile Gloves are perfect when working with animal fats or citrus, due to being more resistant to fats and acids compared to the others. Not to mention they are durable and extremely comfortable, ideal for chopping foods.

Non-Medical Grade Vinyl Gloves are ideal for when you need flexibility, comfort and a snug fit.

Polythene Gloves are a good choice for general food preparation when frequent changes are required, for instance preparing meals for different food tolerances.

Nappy changingbaby wearing a hooded towel

Powder Free Vinyl Gloves are the perfect glove for you in this situation. They provide full coverage, and are ideal for latex allergy sufferers, being latex free. They are also a lot cheaper than other gloves, offering amazing value for tasks that require frequent changing of gloves.

Polythene Gloves are a great alternative for nappy changing, being lightweight, sensitive to touch and economical.

Sterile vs Non-sterile

Sterile gloves are primarily used for surgical purposes, which means they have to meet stricter standards, and provide a higher level of protection against contamination. However, at around 7 times the price of non-sterile gloves, they are best kept for wound care and other higher infection risk procedures.

Powder vs Powder-free

Corn starch is used in the production of gloves, leaving a light dusting of corn starch powder which aids with putting on and taking off. It also helps to absorb any perspiration. However proteins from the latex are absorbed by the corn starch powder, which can then get into skin pores and cause sensitivity to latex. A powder free medical glove should have less than 2mg of powder per glove.

Over 1 million gloves sold per day - here is how we get them to you!

Multiple suppliers means we're always fully stocked

Currently, as this goes to press we're working with 6 major manufacturers, who we've built sustainable and respected relationships with over many years.

Our 'go and see' approach guarantees quality

Our expert procurement team make regular site visits to audit production. Not content with that, they also arrange for QC testing before the gloves depart the factories and when they arrive at our warehouse.

Saving energy saves money we pass on to you

We choose factories which use the most modern production systems, reducing energy consumption and emissions of volatile compounds, and we're moving towards gas powered plants to save even more.

Maximising transportation means faster deliveries

We've adopted a streamlined transportation process, giving faster, more efficient deliveries to our warehouse - and to you.

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