Where and How to Store Disposable Gloves
Disposable gloves are critical personal protective equipment (PPE) used across numerous industries to protect employees and customers. They prevent cross-contamination and provide a barrier between your employees and potentially hazardous materials.
Proper glove storage is vital for preserving the quality of protection you get from the gloves and preventing degradation over time. When disposable gloves are stored correctly, they last longer and remain in optimal condition so your employees can continue to use them safely.
What Determines Glove Shelf Life?
The shelf life of disposable gloves is not an exact number. Instead, it’s determined primarily by the type of materials used in the glove and how you store the product. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t mandate estimated shelf lives for disposable gloves, most manufacturers do include an expiration date on their products’ packaging.
Disposable gloves made out of synthetic rubber materials like nitrile and polyvinyl chloride (PVC vinyl) offer an average shelf life of about five years. While vinyl and nitrile gloves do expire, some properly stored nitrile gloves have lasted up to 10 years without any signs of damage or degradation.
Keep in mind that shelf-life estimates for disposable gloves are only applicable to unopened gloves in their original packaging.
Risk of Glove Degradation
While synthetic rubbers offer long shelf lives, all materials begin to break down over time. The deterioration of disposable gloves can be accelerated by improper storage conditions and opening the packaging.
Gloves that have begun to degrade are no longer safe for use as PPE because their structure is compromised. They will not protect your hands from potentially harmful materials and could easily tear.
Degraded gloves can become discolored, hard, brittle or soft. They may become less elastic and lose their shape when stretched. Stretching degraded gloves can also cause tears or cracks in the materials. Gloves with any of these characteristics should not be used.
Tips for Properly Storing Disposable Gloves
The best way to guarantee the longest shelf life for your disposable gloves is to maintain proper storage conditions. Gloves degrade more rapidly when exposed to extreme temperatures, dust, moisture, ozone and ultraviolet light.
Ideal storage for synthetic rubber gloves should be cool and dark with low moisture and effective ventilation. Gloves should never be stored at temperatures higher than 90°F or extremely cold conditions — the best temperature for storage is between 50 and 72F.
Store gloves in areas away from sources of heat, moisture or ozone that could damage them, like steam pipes, radiators, motors or electrical equipment. Also, try to avoid direct sunlight or fluorescent lights that produce ultraviolet light.
Above all else, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for disposable glove storage. They’ve estimated the gloves’ expiration date based on these storage conditions, so using these recommended procedures is the best way to ensure you get the most out of your gloves.
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