Not so long ago, the presence of color in a disposable glove indicated a latex-free glove. Nitrile exam gloves were usually some shade of blue. Latex gloves were a natural color, and looked like – well, latex.
But not anymore.
Nitrile exam gloves are now available in a rainbow of colors. Nitrile cleanroom gloves come in colors other than the standard white. And latex gloves are available in colors other than “natural.”
While choice is nice, does glove color matter?
Cleanroom Glove Color
In cleanroom and controlled environments, contamination is a constant concern. Contaminants can come from the glove, other materials, and from the workers.
White cleanroom gloves are the industry standard. Contamination is easier to see on a white glove. White also conveys and promotes the “clean” message to workers.
Color is a glove additive, and additives can react with the product or process. For this reason, less color is preferred. This is also true for white cleanroom gloves, as white is also an added color. Some white gloves contain less dye than others, reducing the risk of unwanted reactions.
While white is the industry standard, there are use cases for a colored cleanroom glove. A blue cleanroom glove may provide more contrast, making it easier for workers to do their job well.
Glove Color in the Lab
Laboratories are frequently faced with the possibility of cross-contamination. This can happen when an employee inadvertently transfers substances from one area of the lab to another on their gloved hands.
Assigning a specific glove color to each area of the lab can help. For instance, blue gloves could be used in one area, and white nitrile gloves in another. Wearing different colored gloves provides supervisors and employees a visual cue. This can help prevent costly errors caused by cross-contamination.
Colored Medical Gloves
Health care facilities often prefer a colored nitrile. This helps staff differentiate between latex and non-latex gloves.
A shade of blue is the traditional nitrile color of choice in medical facilities. But in recent years other colors such as gray, purple, and pink have become common.
Glove color can be useful in identifying glove failure. Double gloving, wearing a dark glove underneath a light colored glove, can help reveal punctures and small tears.
A Rainbow of Dental Gloves
Glove manufacturers that focus on the dental industry have marketed a rainbow of colored and scented nitrile and latex gloves.
Some dental offices like to color-coordinate their scrubs and gloves. Other offices prefer to use a dark blue nitrile exam glove to reduce the visibility of blood. For the dental hygienist, glove selection is most often a matter of personal choice.
Because glove color has become an effective marketing and branding tool, we will likely continue to see new exam glove colors. Glove color choice will still be influenced by the industry, purchasing decisions and cost.
What do you think? Does glove color matter?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Dec. 13, 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and relevancy.