What are the Different Types of Safety Gloves?

Ken Black

When most people think of safety gloves, the gloves used by the nurse in the doctor’s office or the janitor come to mind. However, most gloves, in their basic form, are meant to provide some sort of safety.

Kevlar® fabric, which is used to make safety gloves.
Kevlar® fabric, which is used to make safety gloves.

The safety gloves many see in their doctor’s office, and for use by janitors and other light cleaning duties, are waterproof gloves made of latex or some other plastic. These gloves are usually meant for short-term, one-time use. Once used for their intended purpose, they are discarded. The gloves allow a complete free range of motion, but may dull feelings in the fingers and hands slightly.

Safety gloves may be worn by janitors during their duties.
Safety gloves may be worn by janitors during their duties.

Another type of safety glove type many may be familiar with are the rubber gloves often used for heavier cleaning both around the home and in industrial settings. These gloves usually cover at least a portion of the forearm as well. They are also waterproof and are meant to be reused. They tend to allow for nearly as much motion as latex and other similar gloves, but significantly dull feeling in the hand.

Rubber gloves are often used when cleaning with chemicals.
Rubber gloves are often used when cleaning with chemicals.

For those whose jobs or chores require them to work around sharp knives or objects, safety gloves made of Kevlar® may be an option. These gloves allow the user to still maintain an excellent amount of dexterity, yet provide adequate protection. The Kevlar® gloves come in a variety of gauges, some thicker than others. While thicker gloves may offer more protection, they are also likely to limit movement more.

For cleaning around, or dealing with, harsh chemicals, butyl gloves work very well. They are very impermeable to both gas and liquids, making them very good safety gloves for a number of different situations, including working with acid. While they may cost more than other types of gloves used around hazardous materials, they can be well worth the money.

Insulated gloves, such as those used in winter or around heat sources to prevent burns, are also safety gloves. These protect from temperature extremes, where short-term or prolonged exposure could cause substantial damage to the skin and underlying tissue.

While safety gloves can provide a definite advantage against many types of hazards, it is still important to follow all safety guidelines. Gloves are usually considered a last line of defense, not a license to act dangerously. They can provide an adequate amount of protection in most cases, but they cannot completely protect anyone.

Medical grade safety gloves are worn by surgeons, doctors and others in the medical field.
Medical grade safety gloves are worn by surgeons, doctors and others in the medical field.

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Discussion Comments


I think as far as routine safety goes, leather gloves are the best. I always keep a few pairs of leather gloves around the house for DIY projects and for yard work. They're pretty loose fitting, so you don't have a whole lot of dexterity, but for things like weeding, chopping wood, or hauling light brush, they work really well.

I would also recommend using them for light construction. Although a basic leather glove is not going to stop a saw or a nail if you happen to get in the way of one, they will prevent a whole lot of splinters and blisters.

You just have to make sure that you get a pair that fits you. They should be slightly loose, but not so loose that they fall off if you put your hands down by your side -- otherwise you get blisters.

So there's my two cents on safety gloves -- leather all the way for me!


Can anybody give me some tips on the best material for cut resistant safety gloves? I have recently started doing some construction on my house, and for the life of me it seems like I can't go a week without cutting my hand somehow.

I don't know, maybe I'm just inordinately clumsy, but that aside, are there any really good safety gloves out there that you all know of? I had been using just regular safety work gloves, the leather ones, but now I'm starting to wonder if I need a pair of the heavy duty industrial safety gloves.

Can anybody tell me what kind I should look for, and what types of materials are best for avoiding cuts to the hand? Thanks y'all.


Huh -- who knew there were that many different kinds of safety gloves floating around. If you had asked me, I think I would have only been able to come up with rubber safety gloves and leather safety gloves.

See, this is why I like this site -- you really go down deep and find out all the detailed answers to questions...and then I can look super-intelligent in front of my friends by knowing so much minutiae.

Thanks for the info, wisegeek!

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