Do Latex Gloves Expire
Did you know that disposable gloves expire, just like your produce? Well, not exactly like your produce--they have a much longer shelf life. Even so, every glove has an expiration date, and much like your pantry supplies, you won’t get good results if you use your gloves after their expiration date.
So, for medical professionals, it’s worth asking if (and when) latex gloves expire.
Why Disposable Gloves Have an Expiration Date
While you might not think that plastic gloves have a limited lifespan, it’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever.
Technically, the Food and Drug Administration does not require manufacturers to put an expiration date on their gloves. However, most manufacturers choose to do so anyway. So...what gives?
Most manufacturers put an expiration date on their gloves because they recognize that nothing lasts forever--not even disposable gloves. All materials eventually break down over time, and gloves are no exception (even highly durable ones like nitrile gloves).
Why Glove Shelf Life Matters
That’s all fine and good, but if the FDA isn’t worried about it, why should you be? And why are manufacturers worried about it?
It all comes down to performance.
Technically, most glove shelf life estimates are quite conservative. A glove with a labeled shelf life of five years may well last for up to ten years in the box. The problem is it’s harder to guarantee a glove’s performance as it ages, and no manufacturer will risk overpromising in case it comes back to bite them.
This is in part because the manner of storage significantly impacts the glove’s overall lifespan. Manufacturer lifespan recommendations are only applicable when gloves are sealed in their packaging. But once the packaging seal is broken, once the gloves are removed from their original packaging, or once they’ve been exposed to moisture, shelf life guidelines no longer apply.
There are also certain things that reduce a glove’s lifespan, even if it’s stored in the original unbroken packaging. For example, any amount of ozone or ultraviolet light exposure reduces a glove’s lifespan, and gloves stored in areas with temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit won’t last as long as gloves in cooler climates.
This is important because when a glove degrades over time, it no longer provides the same level of protection. A deteriorated glove will show signs of surface cracks, will tear easily when stretched, or develop a hard surface layer. The inside of powder-free gloves without a donning layer may also turn gooey (yes, really).
Do Disposable Natural Latex Gloves Expire?
In short, latex gloves do expire, just like any other type of disposable gloves. And if you’re using a latex glove past its lifespan, it won’t do its job very well.
Most latex gloves have a labeled shelf life of three years. Remember, they’re typically thinner and less durable than, say, nitrile gloves, so they’re going to age faster. However, that three-year lifespan only applies if you’re storing gloves in optimal conditions (i.e. in the original unbroken packaging, with no ozone or ultraviolet exposure, in cooler temperatures).
Otherwise, your latex glove shelf life will be much shorter.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to check if your glove is past its expiration date. Again, a deteriorated glove will show clear signs of degradation, and you’ll be able to feel the difference as soon as you try to put it on. Any signs of discoloration, tears, cracks, or holes, and it’s time to throw a glove away.
That said, a glove may be used past its labeled lifespan as long as it’s in good condition. But if you have any reason to think the glove may not be able to perform, discard it and get a fresh pair of gloves (or rather, a fresh box--if one pair is expired, the rest are too).
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Your Gloves
Of course, you don’t want to throw away boxes of disposable gloves left and right. That’s throwing away money (literally). So it pays to take preventative measures to extend the life of your gloves.
As soon as a glove is taken out of its packaging, its lifespan goes down. This should only happen when you’re preparing to put a disposable glove on your hand. Otherwise, gloves should stay in their packaging in a cool, dark, dry place.
Latex Gloves You Can Trust
Once you know how to take care of your latex gloves, you’ll get far more value out of them. And if you’re looking for great latex gloves for a great value, make sure to check out our store for our selection of high-quality latex gloves, made for comfort and performance every single time.
Ordering for your whole organization? No worries! Our customer service team can set up a wholesale order for you. Otherwise, make sure to add your gloves to your cart and purchase latex gloves your team can count on.