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How Much Do Vinyl Gloves Cost?

Vinyl Gloves vs Nitrile Gloves
What costs should you include when you're comparing vinyl and nitrile gloves? Which type of glove will give you a better true value?

In this post, we’ll cover the impact of product quality on total cost.  

The Total Cost of Hygiene Consumables 

Did you see our first and second posts? If not, here’s what we’re talking about. 

Our research in residential aged care has shown us that three components make up total cost: 

  • Product
  • Setup
  • Practices
Dosage Hand Hygiene Total Cost

In this series, we’re dissecting case studies of hygiene consumables, to find out what goes into their total cost.

Quality Reduces Total Cost.  

On the surface, vinyl gloves seem more cost-effective than nitrile gloves. Cost analyses of these skin-deep prices might look like this:  

Table 1: Vinyl vs Nitrile Prices* 

  Price per Unit  Estimated Usage (p. A)  Annual Price 
Vinyl  $0.072  200,000  $14,400 
Nitrile  $0.109  200,000  $21,800 
*Prices are for illustration only, and do not reflect current market value. 

This analysis is valid as far as it goes. But savvy procurement managers will notice it doesn’t include the costs associated with:  

  • failure rates, and 
  • poor performance. 

Failure Rates  

There’s a stark comparison between the failure rates of nitrile and vinyl gloves.  

Vinyl has failure rates of up to 61%, contrasting with failure rates of up to 3% for nitrile.

Why are these rates so different?  

Vinyl glove failure rates are due to the structure of the plastic glove material, polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  

PVC is highly permeable to harmful microorganisms, because it is not molecularly cross-linked. This means the particles in the material aren’t strongly bound to each other, resulting in:  

  • Poor barrier integrity  
  • Poor tear resistance  
  • Poor elasticity, and 
  • Poor chemical resistance  

These attributes lead to a significant cross-contamination risk, through:  

  • visible tears 
  • invisible pinholes, and  
  • high permeability. 

In one study1, viral leaks were detected in 63% of vinyl gloves, following simulated routine tasks.  

How does this affect long-term costs?  

Table 2: Vinyl vs Nitrile Long-Term Costs with Failure Rates* 

  Price per Unit  Est. Usage (p. A)  Failure Rate 
Vinyl  $0.072  200,000  Up to 61% 
Nitrile  $0.109  200,000  Up to 3% 
  Actual Usage (p. A)  Annual Cost 
Vinyl  322,000  $23,184 
Nitrile  206,000  $22,454 
*Prices are for illustration only, and do not reflect current market value. 

This simple calculation illuminates the product quality vs cost debate. A lesser quality item needs to be replaced more often, increasing annual usage and costs. 

From replacing failed gloves, vinyl costs $730.00 more than nitrile per annum.  

And we haven’t even considered the impact of poor performance. 

Poor Performance 

Poor performance includes: 

  • Failure to protect the wearer from microorganisms, whether through punctures or permeability. 
  • Interference with users’ effectiveness, from poor elasticity and fit. 
  • Increased risk of cross-contamination, which can lead to healthcare associated infections. 

To simplify, we’ll look at the cost of healthcare associated infections (HAIs), as the likely outcome from each glove failure. 

Table 3: Vinyl vs Nitrile Long-Term Costs, with Failure Rates and HAIs 

  Failure Rate  Est. Usage  Failures 
Vinyl  Up to 61%  200,000  122,000 
Nitrile  Up to 3%  200,000  6,000 
  Cost of HAI  Annual Cost of HAI  Total Cost 
Vinyl  $500  $6,100,000  $6,123,184 
Nitrile  $500  $300,000  $322,454 

We assumed that just 10% of the glove failures would result in a HAI. Using an estimated baseline cost of $500.00 per associated infection2vinyl gloves cost 19 times more than nitrile per annum

Just this one direct cost from low product quality balloons the total cost. 

(Need more proof? Read the formulas here*) 

In summary: 

  • When the costs of failure are considered, vinyl gloves’ affordability drops off very fast.  
  • Product quality is key to achieving lower total costs while achieving the desired hygiene results. 

When you’re comparing items like vinyl and nitrile gloves, go deeper than the unit price. You’ll find the products’ true worth, and how to reduce long-term total cost. 

How much are poor performing consumables costing your facility? 

Stay tuned for our next post on the total cost of hygiene consumables by signing up for our newsletter here. 


  Price per Unit  Estimated Usage  Annual Price 
Vinyl  X x Z  
Nitrile  Y x Z 
  Price  Est. Usage  Failure Rate 
Vinyl  Up to 61% 
Nitrile  Up to 3% 
  Actual Usage  Annual Cost 
Vinyl  Z + (Z x .61) = U  X x U 
Nitrile  Z + (Z x .03) = V  Y x V 
  Failure Rate  Est. Usage  Failures 
Vinyl  Up to 61%  Z x .61 = F 
Nitrile  Up to 3%  Z x .03 = G 
  Cost of HAI  Annual Cost of HAI  Total Cost 
Vinyl  A x F = B  X x U + B 
Nitrile  A x G = C  Y x V + C 


  1. Korniewicz, D.M., Laughon, B.E., Cyr, W.H., Lytle, C.D. and Larson, E.L.A.I.N.E., 1990. Leakage of virus through used vinyl and latex examination gloves. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 28(4), pp.787-788
  2. Zimlichman E, Henderson D, Tamir O, Franz C, Song P, Yamin CK, Keohane C, Denham CR, Bates DW. Health care-associated infections: a meta-analysis of costs and financial impact on the US health care system. JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Dec 9-23;173(22):2039-46. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.9763. PMID: 23999949.

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