All disposable gloves have expiration dates. This may be hard to believe, especially because disposable gloves are made from plastics and rubbers. Make no mistake, though, they do expire sooner or later. Of course, disposable gloves don't expire the way you would expect food to expire.
When we talk about disposable gloves expiring, we're really talking about how long you can use them before they start becoming ineffective at protecting you from contaminants. As you can imagine, this is very important. Why use gloves if they don't truly protect you?
The great thing about nitrile gloves is that they have a much longer shelf life than latex gloves. While latex gloves expire in just under three years, disposable nitrile gloves can last for an average of five years. When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, it's important to preserve their quality for as long as possible. Doing so ensures that you, your employees, and your customers are safe from any cross-contamination or hazardous materials.
Not to mention PPEs can be quite expensive. If you allow them to go past their shelf life, you'll also waste money. To avoid this, we'll talk about the shelf life of disposable nitrile gloves today. We'll also explain why they expire, and how to properly store them so that you can use them for as long as possible. We even included where you can buy the longest-lasting disposable nitrile gloves at the end, so keep reading!
Why Do Disposable Gloves Have An Expiry Date?
Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't require manufacturers to put an expiration date on their disposable gloves, manufacturers still prefer to do so. How come? Because although disposable gloves are made from synthetic materials that offer very long shelf lives, they still do break down over time.
They may not degrade fully, but they do become less effective at protecting you from contaminants and other hazardous materials. This can be incredibly dangerous if you're working in a medical field or a field that deals with tons of chemicals.
One more thing to keep in mind is that these expiration dates aren't always exact. They're just estimated based on the most ideal storage conditions. This means your disposable gloves' shelf life could shorten if you don't store them properly.
What Determines Glove Shelf Life?
Two main things determine a glove's shelf life. First and foremost is the material that the glove is made from. There are three main materials used to create disposable gloves: latex, polyvinyl chloride (vinyl), and nitrile butadiene rubber, simply called nitrile.
Of the three, latex has the shortest shelf life at a maximum of 3 years. Both nitrile and vinyl are said to have an average shelf life of 5 years. But nitrile is by far the most durable type of disposable glove. Its shelf life can be extended for up to 10 years if stored in ideal conditions. This leads us to the second factor affecting a glove's shelf-life—storage.
How to Properly Store Gloves
If you want to guarantee the longest shelf life for your gloves, you need to know how to store them properly. Here are some storage tips you should keep in mind to avoid increasing the rate of glove degradation:
- Do store your medical gloves in a cool, dark, and dry place where temperatures don't go higher than 90-degrees or lower than 50-degrees Fahrenheit.
- Do keep your gloves away from areas with heat sources, such as steam pipes, radiators, motors, or even electrical equipment.
- Do follow the shelf life guidelines written on the packaging of the gloves.
- Do not expose your gloves to ozone or ultraviolet light for extended periods. UV light from direct sun exposure or fluorescent lights can make your gloves degrade faster.
- Do not store your gloves in a place with moisture.
- Do not break the seal or open the packaging if you aren't going to use the gloves.
Take note that these shelf life guidelines are only applicable for unopened gloves in their original packaging. Once you open a pack of gloves, their shelf life immediately begins to decrease. That is why it is very important to only open a pack of gloves once you're ready to use them.
Is It Safe To Use Nitrile Gloves After Their Expiry Date?
To truly know if your nitrile gloves are safe to use after their expiry date, you need to check the packaging and inspect the gloves themselves. If the original packaging is unopened and intact, that's usually a good sign. But you still need to inspect the nitrile gloves to ensure that they're 100% usable.
As long as the gloves aren't showing any signs of degradation, such as:
- less elasticity
- loss of shape when stretched
- tears or cracks when stretched
...then they should be fine to use even past their expiry date. As we mentioned before, these expiration dates are only estimates. Nitrile gloves can be stored for as long as 10 years without degrading as long as they're stored in the ideal conditions.
Is Nitrile The Best Kind of Disposable Gloves?
Aside from being more durable and having a longer life span than natural latex gloves, there are several other reasons why you should choose nitrile.
One of the biggest advantages of using nitrile is that it's completely hypoallergenic and latex-free. Latex gloves are known to cause allergic reactions. Even if you weren't previously allergic to latex you can become allergic to it after constant exposure. So if you were to you use latex gloves every day, you are bound to become allergic to them someday.
Greater Resistance to Chemicals
Nitrile is the most highly recommended glove when it comes to handling chemicals, acids, oils, and other substances. That's because it's more durable than its counterparts. Latex gloves aren't that largely recommended for use anymore because of latex allergies.
Vinyl, on the other hand, is very delicate as compared to the two gloves, which is also why it's the cheapest. It isn't recommended for medical use or for handling chemicals because it offers the least protection. The best it can do is for cosmetic purposes.
Nitrile has become incredibly popular in the medical and caregiving field because it has excellent cut and puncture resistance. It is especially useful for surgeons because they don't have to worry about their gloves tearing while doing surgical procedures.
Can Be Used In All Professions
While latex and vinyl are only recommended for use in certain fields and professions, nitrile gloves can be used by all professions. They aren't just used in medical and caregiving fields. They can be used in cosmetics, tattoo parlors, hair salons, industrial work, and so much more!
Of all the disposable gloves available, nitrile gloves are the only gloves most recycling programs accept. So if ever you do have any unused nitrile gloves that are past their shelf life, you don't have to throw them away. Do your part in saving the environment and choose to recycle them instead. Learn more about how you can recycle nitrile gloves in our blog.
For The Best Quality and Prices Buy Your Nitrile Gloves From Primo Dental
If it's high-quality long-lasting nitrile gloves you're looking for, you won't find a better price than at Primo Dental.
Primo Dental is the number one PPE store online. We offer a large selection of nitrile gloves that come in all sizes and colors, such as black, light blue, dark blue, purple, and so on!
Our disposable nitrile gloves are all FDA certified, powder-free, and surgical-grade. Plus, we have the lowest prices on the internet. This is the main reason why we've become the go-to store for all personal protective equipment.
Speaking of PPE, disposable gloves aren't all we sell. Complete your PPE with disposable face masks from Primo Dental. We have everything from surgical masks to N95. And they also come in all kinds of sizes, colors, and designs—we even have masks fit for small children too!
Buy your PPE from Primo Dental today and get free shipping on all orders above $50.