person wearing blue nitrile gloves and touching dental toolsPerson wearing white latex gloves and wiping the counter

Powdered vs. Powder-Free Gloves

Here at GloveNation one of the questions new customers come to us most often with is the difference between powdered and powder free gloves. But what is the difference between the two styles, and when does it matter? In this post we'll go over the pros and cons of powdered gloves and powder free gloves.

Powdered Gloves

Let's start with the obvious question - what and where is the powder in powdered gloves? The powder is cornstarch and it's located on the inside of the gloves. The powder is added during the manufacturing process, so powdered gloves are often a more economical option than powder-free gloves, which take longer to make because they need to go through additional steps to remove the powder.

The most popular reason customers choose powdered gloves is because it makes them easier to put and take off. This is particularly convenience for situations where you have damp or sweaty hands and prevents the gloves from sticking together. Powdered gloves can also improve your grip. This can provide additional safety for staff in manufacturing facilities and fast-paced assembly lines.

Powdered glove allergies

While powdered gloves offer a huge convenience to many, especially in the manufacturing industry they aren't for everybody. There are some people who are allergic to powdered gloves. when powdered gloves are worn for a long period of time the powder can cling to user’s skin and cause sensitivities or allergic reactions.

A common misconception is that those with latex allergies can sometimes get away with using a powdered latex glove. This is false - if you are allergic to latex using a powdered latex glove can actually cause your allergic reaction to be more severe. If you need to use latex for chemical protection but have a latex allergy, we'd recommend double gloving with another glove material underneath the latex glove to prevent skin contact. It is important to note that powdered nitrile or vinyl gloves are rarely an allergy concern.

Are powdered gloves food safe?

With powdered gloves the powder can stick to your hands. There is a concern in the food industry that the powder can cause cross-contamination from sticking to hands, clothing, or surfaces after removal. While this issue could potentially be managed with strict hand-washing procedures most food service businesses will only use powder-free gloves as a precaution. Here at GloveNation we recommend avoiding powdered gloves for food prep, and all of our poly and hybrid food service gloves are powder-free.

Can I get powdered medical grade gloves?

The short answer is no, there is no such thing is powdered medical grade gloves in the USA and you will find all of our medical exam gloves are powder-free. This is because on December 19, 2016 the FDA banned the use of powdered medical gloves over concerns of patient sensitivity and allergies to the powder.

Powder-Free Gloves

Powder-free gloves are the most popular option in the food industry, and the only option in the healthcare industry. Since gloves are powdered during the manufacturing process to ensure all of the powder is removed they go through a process known as chlorination where the gloves are treated with a chlorine solution, rinsed with water, and dried to remove the powdered residue.

The downside of this process is that powder-free gloves can be harder to remove quickly and it may decrease the firmness of the glove’s grip. Powder-free gloves are also more expensive than powdered gloves due to the extra effort involved in the chlorination process.

Can you be allergic to powder-free gloves?

There's a much lower chance of allergic reaction when using powder-free vinyl gloves or powder-free nitrile gloves, however there will still be a small number of people who are allergic to them. If you or somebody you know has an allergic reaction to a powder free nitrile or vinyl glove it could be due to accelerators that are found in most gloves. If this is the case we recommend trying our accelerator-free grape grip gloves.

The Verdict

Powder-free gloves take first place as the most popular type of disposable glove in the USA. This is mainly because of medical requirements and food service preferences. Powdered gloves shouldn't be counted out, since they also play an important role in manufacturing, assembly, and janitorial tasks.

If you're still having trouble deciding which type of glove is better for you we have a friendly customer care team that would love to help! Please reach out with any questions.