Latex Glove Thickness

Latex Glove Thickness

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Disposable gloves help protect you through thick and thin (see what we did there?) But the choice between thin gloves and thick gloves isn’t simply a question of cost or durability. 

In reality, glove thickness makes a dramatic difference in how a pair of gloves performs. 

Here’s a breakdown of things to keep in mind for glove thickness and a review of how to choose latex gloves based on thickness. 

Thinner Gloves vs. Thicker Gloves

What’s in a glove? A glove by any other thickness would work as well, right? 

Not exactly. 

When you consider glove thickness, you’re essentially making a choice between tactile sensitivity and durability. Think about it: the more material, the stronger the glove, but on the other hand, the more material to get in the way of the sensory receptors in your hands. 

This is an important decision when choosing latex gloves, since latex is still a popular material for surgeons and medical professionals. Latex is known for retaining a high degree of tactile sensitivity, which is important in medical work where details make the difference (or even save someone’s life). 

And one way or another, the more material, the less tactile sensitivity you have to work with, regardless of whether you choose latex or nitrile gloves. 

In addition, more material generally means less dexterity. After all, there’s more material that has to stretch with you, and the thicker the glove, the harder the stretch. That’s good news if you need the glove to protect your hand against punctures, but not so much if you need your hands mobile. 

How Glove Manufacturers Rate Glove Thickness

Glove thickness is given in mils, which is one one-thousandth of an inch. Ergo, a 10 mil glove is 0.010 inches thick. You’ll generally see gloves ranging from 1.5 mil at the low end to 8 or 10 mil at the high end. 

However, glove thickness is not uniform across the whole glove. 

Instead, glove manufacturers rate glove thicknesses based on the amount of material at the fingers and palm. In other words, when you choose a 4 mil glove, you’re choosing a glove that’s 4 mil thick at the fingertips and palms. 

When you think about it, this is perfectly logical--your fingers are the area that does all the work, so you need the most tactile sensitivity in your fingers. 

How to Choose Your Glove Strength

To put it simply, when you choose latex disposable gloves, you choose their thickness based on the task at hand. Here’s a quick breakdown

  • 1.5 mil to 2.5 mil: food service workers
  • 2 mil to 4 mil: dentists
  • 3 mil to 5 mil: healthcare workers
  • 5 mil to 7 mil and up: industrial workers

Depending on the healthcare work that you do, your sweet spot is generally between 2 mil and 5 mil. Again, your choice of thickness is entirely based on whether you need durability or tactile sensitivity, which is wholly determined by the task at hand. 

If You Need Tactile Sensitivity…

If you need tactile sensitivity in a latex glove, that means a thinner glove. 

If you’re a food service worker, this could mean as low as 1.5 mil, but that’s only if you need a basic protective barrier. Healthcare workers, on the other hand, need their gloves to provide a bit of puncture resistance while they work, so the lowest they can go is 2 mil. 

Surgeons, for example, would likely work at the low end of the spectrum since tactile sensitivity is critical. Dentists, on the other hand, need more durability (you try poking around someone’s teeth) so they may go at the higher end. 

If You Need Durability…

If you need a more durable pair of disposable gloves, you’re going to need a thicker glove. Again, this depends on what you do. 

For industrial workers, where protection matters above all else, they need a lot of material, which is why they reach for gloves with the highest thickness rating. At that point, they’re working with heavy machinery, and tactile sensitivity matters less than strength. 

However, there are instances where healthcare workers would opt for a thicker glove (and thus durability over tactile sensitivity). This usually happens in cases where you’re worried about puncture resistance and can afford to sacrifice a bit of tactile sensitivity in the name of protection. Dentists are the best example, but any task with a risk of sharps injuries could potentially qualify. 

Disposable Latex Gloves You Can Trust

We know that you turn to latex gloves to do important work--work that supports your whole community. And we provide high-quality latex gloves you can count on to get the job done right every single time. 

Find the perfect fit for you and add your gloves to your cart today. Or, if you’re ordering latex gloves in bulk for your whole organization, our expert customer service team would be happy to set up a wholesale order for you.