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It seems like you can’t walk into a mechanic’s shop without seeing at least one tech wearing nitrile gloves — and maybe even a few of the old-timers. There was a time when these guys regularly used cleaners and solvents that would melt the skin off your fingers. However the long-term effects of chemical exposure coupled with the short-term problem of filthy, nasty hands have convinced them to slip some of these on. How about you?

The various companies that make these gloves seem to be marketing directly to mechanics: sending out free samples, making them in basic black rather than the purples and blues they used to come in — not to mention giving them names like “The Shadow.”

In addition to their obvious resistance to oils and solvents, some of these gloves feature textured surfaces that provide a better grip in slippery situations. And since they’re not made of latex rubber, you don’t have to worry about allergic reactions.

So what do you think? Are these an indispensable part of your work routine, or do you just love the feel of the grime under your fingernails? Tell us in the comments.

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36 Responses to Hot or Not? Nitrile Gloves

  1. John says:

    I use nitrile gloves for a few different purposes. Like mechanics, I put on a pair every time that I have work on a car, including taking off a tire. They make cleanup easy (I just throw them away) and the cost is almost nothing.

    I also use nitrile gloves when painting and staining. I don’t have to wash my hands when using water based paints, and I don’t have to clean my hands with solvent when using oil based paints.

    The final use that I have found for nitrile gloves is when working with glues and adhesives. When I put sprinklers in my yard I had to glue the PVC pipe together. Nothing is worse on your hands than the purple solvent and PVC glue. Using gloves once again makes cleanup easy.

    Maybe other people aren’t as messy as I am when painting or gluing, but I find these gloves indispensable.

  2. Bart'sDad says:

    I work as a diesel mechanic. The industry is dangerous enough, I don’t need to increase my exposure to carcinogens. I’ve worn them religiously for the last 5 years. I won’t work without them. They took a bit of time to get used to, but I feel naked without them on at work.

  3. Patrick Austin says:

    I almost always use a pair of those slightly thicker-than-disposable elastic back nitrile gloves when I’m working on the car or doing home repairs. Aside from keeping me cleaner, they help reduce all those barely noticeable tiny cuts you get from working on rusty cars bits or wood slivers and they offer a bit of heat resistance when you’re draining hot oil from a crankcase. After a day of working on stuff, my hands aren’t nearly as banged up as if I didn’t use ’em.

    I used to use latex gloves, but they’re so prone to tearing that I’d burn through a box in no time.

  4. Davo says:

    Disposable gloves rule, for all sorts of things. I buy them in bulk, from Costco…

  5. Tony says:

    I’ve started using them when working on my bike and I mostly like them. The ones I bought are a bit loose and bunch up sometimes, but the ones in the picture above look to solve that problem.

    I have a problem where I’ll take the gloves off for some fine detail, my hand gets dirty, and I say “screw it.”

    If I’m not dealing with fluids, I tend to wear my mechanic’s gloves instead. They’re not liquid-proof, but they add a bit of padding when spinning wrenches. They also aren’t prone to tearing if they catch on a sharp corner.

  6. John says:

    I started my adult life as a mechanic, and then went to paramedic school where you pretty much don’t have a choice but to wear them. I have always stayed working in the auto repair business, and hate not having them on. If I am not wearing nitrile gloves (my favorite’s are Microflex brand) I am wearing Mechanix gloves. My hands are what I make a living with, so an extra second to throw them on is well worth the time and money spent on them. If you look at some mechanics that have been around awhile, you might notice how swollen their hands appear all the time. There haven’t been any studies done yet, but I would bet it’s more than a coincidence.

  7. Joe says:

    I use them everytime I’m painting, staining, gluing, or working with plumbing. Aside from the benefit of keeping your hands clean, they’re great for plumbing work since they still have a lot of grip even after they get wet.

  8. jim says:

    I use these all the time, and usually get a couple uses out of them before I push a thumb through. Size matters — too small for your hands and they’re worse than useless. The thinnest sizes tear too easily, but too thick and they’re hard to get on. I like Sempermed XXL in boxes of 100.

  9. KMR says:

    We buy 6.3mil nitrile gloves by the case (10 boxes) from GloveNation @ about $6/box. A case lasts about three months in our shop (not just me using them).

    http://glovenation.com/NitrileGrapeGrip.html

    I started wearing gloves back in 2000, and got used to them quickly. As a certified greenie I don’t like filling the landfills with my greased up gloves, but I figure it is even less green if I get cancer from the chemical exposure.

  10. KMR says:

    Worth reposting this link to GloveNation’s chemical compatibility chart.

    http://glovenation.com/ChemicalResistance.htm

  11. John says:

    HOT. In a good way.

    I worked in a garage right at the time when a senior mechanic realized just how much damage he was doing to his hands — as well as how much time he was losing cleaning up between jobs. Maybe two months later, we were all wearing them.

    One more benefit: If you’re working at home and you’ve had to ignore the call of nature until you finish something critical, you don’t have to scrub your hands under running water (with a full bladder, fun fun) in order to avoid getting yelled at for ruining the guest towel AGAIN.

  12. Cole Goldstein says:

    We use a leather dye that is alcohol based, and designed to be used to permanently coat and penetrate leather as thick as 1/4″ in one coat. We use these gloves to protect our hands from becoming variour semi-perm colors. Couldn’t see using leather dye without them.

    They don’t rip or tear as easily as vinyl or plain latex gloves. We love these gloves at my company.

  13. jeff says:

    Hot. I throw them on every time I do anything on the cycle or the truck. I keep a box of them under the seat in the pickup.

  14. Gary says:

    Whenever glues, solvents or finishes come out, so do the gloves.

  15. fred says:

    KMR

    Thanks for the link to the compatibility chart.
    Of course there a listed items that we hope not to encounter too much – like trinitrobenzene – about as explosive as TNT.

  16. DocN says:

    I go through ’em like tissues. Used to use the latex gloves, but you’d tear up a dozen just getting out the tools. The nitrile last longer and are far more chemical resistant.

    I use ’em for just about everything but welding.

    Doc.

  17. Maureen says:

    I’m a woodworker, and have a woodshop in my basement. Having small hands, I find it hard to find a good, tough pair of gloves that allow me to have dexterity while I’m doing painting, or handling sharp objects. I never thought of wearing nitrile! I just ordered a box on the Internet, and it’ll be coming soon. I can now varnish my finished projects without worrying about buying paint thinner and sticking the crap on my hands. Thanks, guys.

  18. JB says:

    Hot! They won”t disintegrate when exposed to break clean or carb dip, unlike latex. And they allow much better dexterity than big thick chemical gloves.

  19. Ken C. says:

    Hot…
    Use them for all the above. Plus I use them for re-packaging bulk chicken and beef into smaller 2 portion servings.

  20. Old Donn says:

    Always, when reassembling brakes to keep the pads and rotors clean and around any automotive fluids, especially oil. Get oil on Mechanix gloves and it’s there for good, regardless how often they’re washed.

  21. Jim says:

    Costco has then for $14.99 for 2 x 150 glove boxes. As of 24-July-08, there is a $2 off coupon in their sales flyer.

  22. Gough50 says:

    Our painting/finishing company made the switch from latex to nitrile a few years back. We’ve been buying them at Costco, but I think we’ll take KMR’s suggestion and start getting them online. They are great around paints, varnishes, and epoxies, and indispensable when we’re using aniline stains and polyurethane glue. One downside is that, if you’re hands sweat much, you’ll find them impossible to re-use.

  23. Bart'sDad says:

    Gough50, If you take the gloves off and turn them inside out, they dry rather quickly. I also keep a container of baby powder(corn starch) in my tool box for a repowder before reinstalling a pair of gloves on those hot days.

  24. Gary Ratajczak says:

    I stock up from Harbor Freight. BEST use I have found is whenever I touch a can of spray foam insulation.

    Doing some remodeling, and had to foam – didn’t feel like running to the shop for gloves – had sticky foam on my hands in about 2 minutes!!!!

    GR

  25. Vincent Wright says:

    These are great! I use them all the time. It is nice to just take them off when I need run in and use the restroom instead of either cleaning my hands or getting other parts dirty. 🙂

    Even with chemical cleaners, deep down or hard to remove grease and dirt can still remain.

  26. David Bryan says:

    What I used to do, and what I still do if I’m smart enough to think of it and not quite smart enough to remember to put on gloves, is wash my hands with a lot of soap and let the soap dry on them. And claw the bar to get soap under my nails. Everything comes off a lot easier when you’re done then.
    Also a little sugar helps scrub stuff off of your hands really well. If you’re out and about and got a mess on your hands you can duck into a fast food place, grab a sugar packet and clean up real well with their liquid soap.
    In my imperfect world things like that tend to happen.

  27. Coach James says:

    Use them a lot, especially plumbing. Fixing or scrubbing toilets is a perfect use for them.

  28. Turbobrick says:

    Love ’em. I never really got into the Mechanix wear gloves as I could not find a pair that would actually fit my fingers properly. I used latex gloves for a few years when doing oil changes, but they were too flimsy for anything else. Last year I picked up a box of the nitrile cheapies from HF, and they were a revelation. Better grip, protection against abrasion, easier cleanup, dirt cheap, what’s not to love?

    I still do apply plenty of hand lotion on my hands and arms before starting anything to help with cleanup afterwards. Afterall, these are not those shoulder length veterinarian gloves they use with cows 8-x

  29. Bob The Drywall Guy says:

    They’re fantastic for slinging drywall compound around. I have a connection to get the surgeon version from a medical supply store, they come up halfway to the elbow, and are perfect when things get down and dirty (wet taping).

    The thinner black ones are great for working with spray foam insulation, spray glue, or worse still, the evil black acoustical sealant.

    Gloves are an absolute must, over time joint compound does a real number on your hands. Nitrile are strong enough to last, but thin enough that I can keep a sense of touch.

  30. Mindy Osborne says:

    Nitrile gloves have excellent barrier protection, chemical resistance, and are latex free. The high price of nitrile exam gloves are well worth it and are the preferred gloves for physicians.

  31. DennisB says:

    Our most popular gloves are Microflex Midnight Black Nitrile Powder free, comes in a box of 100. http://www.denlorstools.com/home/dt1/page_14631_417/microflex_midnight_black_nitrile_gloves_large_mfxm.html

  32. MKram says:

    Hot – Use them every time, each time I’m working on the paper punchers (firearms / air rifles). Health risks from exposure to the solvents to clean same is asking for trouble later on plus protects against lead and primer compounds. Plus being just shy of OCD about handwashing (New Orleans in Sep 05 got me started on that!) I scrub my mitts once after removing gloves and call it good.

  33. US says:

    I don’t know what I’d do without gloves. My hands were all torn up and filthy from working on cars. I went through many brands of gloves but the best ones I found are TopGrip ultimate Nitrile

    http://www.unisafedirect.com/index.php?cPath=22

  34. Mike says:

    I’ve always use Ambitex nitrile gloves from Tradex. For automotive use, the blue gloves make it easier to see your hands when working in dark places under the hood or the car.

    Apparently some people are allergic to nitrile gloves. Not sure if anyone has experienced a reaction, but I thought I’d include that link in case.

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  36. Michael Scheerer says:

    Latex free and powder free nitrile gloves are available at jomyk store for Healthcare, Dentistry, Laboratory, Production and general Use applications.

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