The Right (& Left) Glove for The Job
When looking closely at the requirements for your controlled environment, choosing the correct, disposable, cleanroom glove can become a tedious decision. There are a number of different materials to choose from, each best suited for specific tasks. We’re going to explore the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of disposable gloves that are appropriate for use within a cleanroom.
Let’s first look at the 3 most frequently encountered types of gloves.
Latex gloves are very common, but carry the risk of causing allergic reactions in 8-10% of people. One advantage of latex gloves is elasticity, which provides a comfortable, snug fit, while providing excellent tactile feedback and flexibility of use. Latex gloves are great to use within a lab or other technical environment that demands precision. They are recommended for use of food handling to medical grade materials. Latex gloves provide limited protection against chemicals, but protect well against biological or water-based materials.
Nitrile gloves are a strong alternative to latex. They provide excellent durability and are difficult to puncture or tear. They retain the elasticity of latex, maintaining the snug fit. Nitrile gloves are perfect for working within a lab, with chemicals, or for food handling. They are considerably more resistant to a variety of harsh chemicals than latex and provide superior protection from cuts and abrasions. Nitrile gloves are nearly 3x more puncture resistant than natural rubber and are protective against solvents, oils, greases, some acids, and some bases.
Vinyl gloves are an affordable solution for those with latex sensitivities. The drawback of vinyl gloves is they are commonly thicker. They lack the elasticity of a latex and or nitrile gloves, making vinyl gloves fit a little looser. However, they are the most affordable, disposable glove solution available and are excellent for cleaning, painting, assembly work, and work involving lab and food services. Vinyl is considerably more limited in it’s use as a chemical resistant glove than nitrile or latex.
Each of these types of glove are available powdered or non-powdered, which allows the wearer to easily slide their hands inside. The downside to powdered gloves is there is a chance of releasing airborne particulates during the donning and removal process. For this reason, powder-free gloves are more popular and are highly recommended within cleanrooms.
Let’s take a look at some less common types of gloves used in cleanrooms.
Polychloroprene, or neoprene, is a latex-free combination of chloroprene polymers. The gloves themselves provide a similar feel, level of protection, and tactile performance to latex gloves. Polychloroprene gloves are comfortable, making them excellent to wear for long periods of time. Disposable polychloroprene gloves are strong against most hazardous chemicals, but are weak against halogenated and aromatic hydrocarbons. These gloves are a great compromise between latex and nitrile and offer the user both comfort and protection.
Created through a blend of neoprene, nitrile and natural rubber, Triple Polymer glovesprovide excellent durability, chemical resistance and comfort. Textured fingertips provide a strong grip when handling wet or oily objects. These gloves are great for lab work, light assembly, parts handling and maintenance. Triple Polymer gloves are entirely free of powder and the ill effects associated with it, but just as easy to put on. They are suitable for Cleanroom ISO Class 6 use.
Co-Polymer gloves are great examination gloves that are tear-resistant and transparent. These gloves are best for medical examinations or laboratory use. They are designed to be an inner glove worn under latex gloves, specifically for individuals with latex allergies. Co-Polymer gloves are powder free with a beaded cuff to allow easy donning and doffing. Co-Poylmer disposable gloves are suitable for ISO Class 5 or higher cleanroom environments.
Available in different levels of protection, Cut Resistant gloves are extremely useful in situations that require contact with sharp edges like glass, metal, ceramics, and other materials. The lowest level, 1, is primarily for protecting against nuisance cuts – paper cuts, material handling, or even automotive maintenance. Level 2 is best for use in construction, automotive assembly, packaging, and some masonry applications. Level 3 is ideal for light metal stamping or light duty glass handling and applications. Level 4 is perfect for metal stamping, sheet metal handling, glass handling, and food service applications. Offering the highest protection, Level 5 gloves are designed for protection when working with heavy metal stamping, plate glass handling, and other high-risk applications. To achieve protection, cut resistant gloves are generally engineered from materials like Kevlar, Fiberglass, or other high performance material. These are not disposable gloves. Providing the right protection to your hands is absolutely crucial in a cleanroom environment – both to protect from contamination as well as to protect skin from being harmed by chemicals or other potentially harmful objects in the room.