While natural materials like leather and fabric have their benefits, some work conditions require gloves made from synthetic materials.

Whether it’s dealing with hot water, solvents, hazardous chemicals, oils, fats, hydrocarbons and employee allergies, picking the right synthetic gloves can have an impact on both employee safety and getting the job done.

To help make sense of synthetics, here’s a breakdown of four types of synthetic glove materials and how they can help protect your employee’s hands.

latex gloves


Latex, or natural rubber, has excellent abrasion, cut and tear resistance as well as outstanding grip and temperature resistance from 0-300 degrees F. However, natural rubber has poor flame resistance. It is not recommended where resistance to oil, grease or petroleum solvents is required.

Latex will withstand all liquids that mix with water, making unsupported types especially suited for general household use. Heavier versions will resist common furniture strippers without sacrificing grip or tactile sensitivity. Coated versions have crinkle finishes, making them the best choice for handling sharp-edged materials like glass and sheet metal, as well as lumber, stones and concrete.

Latex is one of the more affordable materials available, however, it can cause an allergic reaction in some users, and costs can fluctuate according to the price of natural resources required to make it.

nitrile gloves

2. Nitrile

A synthetic rubber that provides excellent resistance to a very wide range of solvents and hazardous chemicals; also resists punc­tures, cuts, snags and abrasion. Nitrile pro­tects against oils, greases, acids, caustics, herbicides, pesticides, kerosene, naphtha, alcohols, turpentine, tung oil and many petroleum products.

Nitrile gloves have better cut and abrasion resistance than neoprene and PVC gloves, and are considered an excellent general-purpose product. Nitrile functions well in temperatures ranging from 25-300 degrees F. Nitrile gloves provides outstanding flexibility and abrasion-resistance, so applications include common farm and garden protection, industrial painting, cleaning and maintenance, and automotive use.

While nitrile is allergy free and better for handling petroleum-based products, it does cost more to produce compared to latex.

neoprene gloves

3. Neoprene

Neoprene protects hands from a broad range of chemicals and is one of the best coatings for strong alkalis and acids. Neoprene has excellent tactile strength and resembles natural latex in flexibility but is much more chemical resistant and impermeable to gases, vapor and moisture.

Neoprene performs well in temperatures from 0-300 degrees F, resists herbicides and pesticides, common farm chemicals; oils and a very broad range of alkalis and acids in degreasing. Petrochemical industry use, metal fabrication, plating, galvanizing and general material handling are suitable applications for neoprene in its coated form.

pvc gloves

4. PVC

PVC provides excellent economical resistance to most oils, acids, fats, caustics and petroleum hydrocarbons in addition to outstanding abrasion resistance in its heavier forms.  PVC gloves are useful in alcohols and glycol ethers, but not aldehydes, ketones, aromatic hydrocarbons, halogen compounds, heterocyclic compounds or nitro compounds. PVC performs well in temperatures ranging from 25-150 degrees F.

Disposable PVC gloves will provide only short-term protection. They are best suited for painting, hair care, food handling and dishwashing.

Looking for more ideas on how to provide your employees with the right gloves? Talk to one of our safety advisors today. You can learn about our custom PPE options and schedule a site assessment.

Arbill is a safety solutions company. We are all about protecting your workers in the workplace. Our mission is to keep workers safe and return them home safely at the end of the day. Visit arbill.com for more information on safety programs, training and products.