Rubber glove

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A latex glove

A rubber glove is a glove made out of natural or synthetic rubber. The term 'rubber' refers to durable, waterproof and elastic material made from natural or synthetic latex.[1] Rubber gloves can be unsupported (rubber only) or supported (rubber coating of textile glove). Its primary purpose is protection of the hands while performing tasks involving chemicals. Rubber gloves can be worn during dishwashing to protect the hands from detergent and allow the use of hotter water. Sometimes caregivers will use rubber gloves during the diaper changing process to prevent contact with the child's fecal material/urine. Health professionals use medical gloves rather than rubber gloves when performing surgical operations.


In 1894, William Stewart Halsted, the first chief of surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, invented rubber gloves for his wife Caroline Hampton as he noticed her hands were affected on the daily surgeries she had performed and in order to prevent medical staff from developing dermatitis from surgical chemicals.[2][3][4] However, the first modern disposable glove was invented by Ansell Rubber Co. Pty. Ltd. in 1965.[5][6][7]

Household use[edit]

A disposable nitrile rubber glove

Household rubber gloves have been used for washing dishes and cleaning in the home since the 1960s. Many different designs of gloves have been available in a multitude of colors but traditional designs are yellow or pink with long cuffs. While these still remain the most popular patterns today, gloves can be obtained that range from wrist-length to those that are shoulder-length. There are even gloves that are pre-attached to shirts and bodysuits for added protection.[citation needed]

Rubber gloves are best worn with a skin tight fit which, while still allowing for the hands to breathe, makes it easier to hold objects and manipulate them. The palms and fingers usually have a raised pattern which helps provide a good grip when handling objects. Wearing gloves protects the hands from harsh detergents and other cleaning products which are used in the home and elsewhere.

These gloves are traditionally used by people cleaning in the home and are popular with professional cleaners and for clearing up in shops, cafes and other public places.[citation needed] The thickness of the gloves and the long cuffs provide excellent protection for all general cleaning tasks and are useful for all chores where the hands need to be put into water, and provide protection when vacuuming, dusting, and polishing.

The most common material used for making household gloves is latex, a form of rubber. Usually, the gloves have a cotton "flock" lining for easily taking them on and off. They are available in a wider range of colors and cuff lengths. Problems with latex rubber include allergic reactions and poor protection against such substances as solvents. Other materials used to alleviate this are PVC, nitrile, and neoprene. Natural rubber that has been chemically treated to reduce the amount of antibody generators, such as Vytex Natural Rubber Latex, can be used to produce a glove that retains the properties of traditional rubber while exposing the user to significantly reduced amounts of latex allergens.[citation needed]

Gloves are used in the Foodservice Industry for minimizing contact with ready to eat foods. Generally, foodservice employees are required to wash hands before starting work or putting on single-use gloves. Due to the incidence of latex allergies, many people switch to vinyl or nitrile gloves.[citation needed] Poly gloves are a very inexpensive alternative. Latex, Vinyl and Nitrile gloves are available in powder and powder-free varieties. The powder in the gloves are made of USDA cornstarch. Powder-free gloves are generally more expensive than powdered gloves because gloves must be powdered to be removed from the mold they are made on. The majority of disposable gloves are manufactured in China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Disposable gloves are sometimes used in childcare during the diapering/ toileting process to protect the caregiver from coming in contact with the child's fecal material/urine. Fecal matter in particular as it is known to carry many diseases. Many caregivers use gloves while touching the child's buttocks or genitals when wiping or applying creams. These gloves are made of latex, vinyl or nitrile.

Use to hide fingerprints[edit]

Criminals sometimes wear gloves while committing crimes in order to avoid leaving fingerprints, which can be used as evidence against them. When thin gloves are used, however, fingerprints may actually pass through as glove prints, thus transferring the wearers' prints onto surfaces.[8][better source needed][9][better source needed] Fingerprints are also left on the glove itself, and it is possible to develop latent fingerprints from gloves left at or near the scene of a crime. [10][11] The sex of the person wearing the glove can be accurately determined from a glove print.[12]


Karen Wetterhahn was killed by mercury poisoning after a few drops of dimethylmercury landed on her glove during an experiment. Tests later showed that dimethylmercury, a small apolar molecule, can rapidly permeate different kinds of latex gloves and enter the skin within about 15 seconds.[13][14] Wetterhahn's death led to much greater awareness of the problems of glove porosity in chemical safety, leading to mandates for the use of plastic-laminate gloves (SilverShield) for handling dimethylmercury[15] and produced a lasting and significant improvement in laboratory safety.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gillespie, Donald. "Latex vs Rubber Gloves: What is the difference? | Unigloves". Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  2. ^ Born in the USA: The Book of American Origins. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. 2009. p. 186. William Halsted and rubber gloves.
  3. ^ "Rubber Gloves: "Born" - and Now Banished - At Johns Hopkins - 01/14/2008". Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  4. ^ Leyden, John G. (27 November 1990). "The Strange Story of Surgical Gloves". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  5. ^ Brown, Walter (12 December 2016). "The History of Disposable Gloves". AMMEX. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Ansell - Our history". Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  7. ^ [1], "Surgeon's glove having improved donning properties", issued 1995-04-17 
  8. ^ "Do latex gloves conceal fingerprints? If so, Why? | ChaCha". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2012. Do latex gloves conceal fingerprints? If so, Why?
  9. ^ Personal Identification: Fingerprints
  10. ^ "Latent Fingerprints on Latex Gloves – Iowa Division of the International Association for Identification". Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  11. ^ "Developing Latent Prints from Gloves". Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  12. ^ Paulis, Melad G. (29 November 2019). "What can glove impression evidence reveal about assailants? A pilot study". Forensic Sciences Research. 7 (1): 29–39. doi:10.1080/20961790.2019.1684642. ISSN 2096-1790. PMC 8942492. PMID 35341130.
  13. ^ Cotton, Simon (October 2003). "Dimethylmercury and Mercury Poisoning: The Karen Wetterhahn story". Molecule of the Month. Bristol University School of Chemistry. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.5245807. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  14. ^ Nierenberg, David W.; Nordgren, Richard E.; Chang, Morris B.; Siegler, Richard W.; Blayney, Michael B.; Hochberg, Fred; Toribara, Taft Y.; Cernichiari, Elsa; Clarkson, Thomas (1998). "Delayed Cerebellar Disease and Death after Accidental Exposure to Dimethylmercury". New England Journal of Medicine. 338 (23): 1672–1676. doi:10.1056/NEJM199806043382305. PMID 9614258.
  15. ^ Witt, Steven F. (9 March 1998). "Dimethylmercury". OSHA Hazard Information Bulletins. Office of Science and Technology Assessment, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  16. ^ Cavanaugh, Ray (February 2019). "The dangers of dimethylmercury". Chemistry World. Royal Society of Chemistry. Retrieved 6 January 2021.