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Difference between Medical Gloves and Cleanroom Gloves

by Alex Sardarian

Medical gloves and Cleanroom gloves are generally the same in appearance. They, however, are intended for very different purposes and this goes a long way in differentiating them. A cleanroom is an area set apart where the degree of cleanliness is achieved by purified ventilation, delicate process is usually carried out in a clean room and the gloves are used in order to protect a product or process from contamination that might occur during handling. This is due to the adverse effects that small and even unseen particles can have on the clean room processes.

Medical gloves, on the other hand, are used by doctors, nurses and other professionals in the medical field, these gloves are usually used for examination, surgery and other processes in medicine and serve to prevent cross infection spreading from the wearer to the patient. By wearing these gloves, the patient will be protected from bacteria, microbes and other pathogens. Thus, this glove serves as a barrier against pathogens.

Due to the difference in purpose, the process of making the gloves are also not similar. The cleanroom gloves are designed to meet the stringent requirements of the environment in which they will be used. Unlike the medical gloves which have its standards regulated internationally, there is no set standard for cleanroom gloves and the industry needs determines the standard of the gloves. However, they are generally tested for strength, integrity as well as particle extraction (ionic), and NVR(nonvolatile residue) in order to ensure an extremely high level of cleanliness. Cleanroom gloves are also chlorinated both on the outside and inside and they are washes in pure deionized water to remove the particulates and ions.

Medical gloves, on the other hand, do not undergo many processes, it is however tested for physical qualities such as thickness, dimension strength and freedom from pinholes. They must comply with international standards and they require 510k certification from the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) which allows them to be sold as Class 1 medical devices and are required to have an Accepted Quality Limit (AQL) level of 1.5 vs. 4.0 for industrial-rated gloves. Medical gloves are usually made of latex due to its many qualities such as dexterity, biodegradability, comfort and being cost effective. However, in order to prevent triggering allergic reactions in some people when exposed to latex, other materials such as nitrile and vinyl are also used. Nitrile is particularly good for making cleanroom gloves because it is known to reduce particle transfer and can be used in both wet and dry handling.


Cleanroom gloves are usually packaged in low particulate materials such as polyethylene while medical gloves are usually packaged in paper boxes. The processes of making cleanroom gloves also make it more expensive than medical gloves. All in all, the major differences between the two kinds of gloves are the cost, the manufacturing process and the purpose they serve.

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