Nitrile rubber gloves are a common form of PPE found in healthcare facilities, science labs and more. These affordable solutions work to form a barrier around the hands so that workers don’t come into contact with hazardous liquids, surfaces and microorganisms.

Professionals want to get the most out of their PPE, but can you reuse nitrile gloves? The answer depends on if you’re using disposable or reusable designs.

Disposable vs. Reusable Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile gloves are versatile for a wide range of industries. However, it’s important to review manufacturer details when purchasing gloves in bulk. Nitrile gloves will either be disposable or reusable. There are benefits to each variety, but recognizing which type you have in the workplace allows you to stay in compliance within your field.

Disposable Nitrile Gloves

Disposable nitrile gloves are meant to be used once. This can save those working in hospitals, restaurants and similar industries a great deal of time since workers are required to change gloves frequently. Disposable nitrile gloves are generally thinner near the fingertips for increased sensitivity when handling fine tools and other equipment.

Reusable Nitrile Gloves

Reusable nitrile gloves are typically sold in pairs and are thicker than disposable varieties. This allows the PPE to withstand liquid soaps and other cleaning solutions repeatedly. Reusable nitrile gloves tend to fit looser than disposable gloves, and the increased thickness can make it challenging to perform intricate procedures with smaller tools.

Reusable nitrile gloves can be cost-effective, but this comes with the tradeoff of having to sanitize between uses rather than simply discarding them. 

Can You Reuse Disposable Nitrile Gloves?

Under no circumstance should disposable nitrile gloves be reused. This form of PPE is unsuitable for washing, decontamination or reprocessing procedures. Attempting to clean a disposable nitrile glove with traditional cleaning solutions can weaken the protective characteristics of the glove and put users at risk of spreading bacteria to patients, surfaces, foods and equipment.

Discard disposable nitrile gloves after each wear and follow the tips below to limit waste:

  • Know your glove size before trying on disposable gloves.

  • Educate your employees about when to use disposable nitrile gloves.

  • Store disposable gloves in a safe environment away from contaminants.

Cleaning Reusable Gloves

If you opt for reusable nitrile gloves for cleaning operations, check the manufacturer’s packaging for sanitation instructions. The process for cleaning this type of PPE changes based on industry and what the gloves will be used for. Follow the general steps below to get the most out of reusable gloves:

  1. Keep the gloves on your hands after cleaning.

  2. Run hot water over the gloves and remove loose surface grime with liquid soap.

  3. Take off the gloves and wash your hands before proceeding.

  4. Flip the reusable nitrile gloves inside out and allow them to soak in soap and water for several minutes.

  5. Hang the reusable gloves in a secure place to dry.

  6. Wipe down the cleaning side of the glove with a recommended disinfectant. Keep this away from your hands.

  7. Store the gloves in a safe place where they can dry completely.

  8. Wash your hands for safety.

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