Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Work gloves have become an integral part of everyday working life. Statutory occupational health and safety regulations and the requirements of the employers’ liability insurance association prescribe the appropriate protective gloves for every field of activity. Even in our free time, we like to do handicrafts and need appropriate work gloves for the numerous jobs.

We have summarised what makes a good work glove and what you should definitely look out for when buying them in our following guide. We have evaluated six work gloves for different applications. We then inform you about the most important purchase criteria and answer the most frequently asked questions about work gloves.




Summary

  • Work gloves should be standardised and classified according to the EN 388 scale. The scale properties are divided into puncture, tear, cut and abrasion resistance.
  • Work gloves with different properties are offered for the different areas of application.
  • To get the best possible protection, the material of the work gloves is a very important criterion.

The Best Work Gloves: Our Picks

Buying and rating criteria for work gloves

There are suitable work gloves for every task and activity. For cleaning up the cellar, simple gloves are usually enough to protect against dust and dirt.

For more demanding work, however, it is important that the work gloves fit properly and protect against hazards. To ensure that buying gloves is not a big challenge, we have compiled the most important buying criteria for you here:

Here we explain in detail how important the individual criteria are and which possible areas of application result from them.

Material

Work gloves are mainly made of cotton, leather or synthetic materials. For special applications such as cut protection, the gloves are additionally provided with special fibres. The different types of material can therefore be used for different purposes due to their special properties.

Cotton work gloves are used for cleaning surfaces that are sensitive to scratches, such as glass or porcelain. For rough work such as chopping wood, construction and gardening, the material must be very robust and hard-wearing. Therefore, leather

is mostly used here.
Synthetic work gloves are made of latex, nylon, nitrile, polyurethane or vinyl foam. Due to their different properties, they are often used in combination.

Latex and nitrile are particularly elastic, flexible, waterproof and offer a very good grip. In addition, nitrile does not cause allergic reactions. Vinyl foam and polyurethane are breathable and are particularly suitable for handling greasy and oily objects.

Quality

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, work gloves must be approved according to the EN 388 standard. The standard assesses the mechanical risks of the material used.

The standard is divided into four areas, each with five classes. The areas are divided into puncture-proof, cut-proof, abrasion-proof and tear-proof. The classes range from zero (lowest level) to five (highest level). The higher the class number, the safer the work glove.

Size

The right size is enormously important for safe work with work gloves. If the gloves are too big or too small, this will affect the wearing comfort and the grip safety.

To determine the right size, you should ideally try on the gloves. When ordering online, manufacturers usually offer a table with size information in cm.

Other functions

Work gloves differ not only because of the different areas of use. Many manufacturers offer useful additional functions. For example, a crepe fastener guarantees that the glove cannot slip off the wrist during high tensile stress.

A seamless finish on work gloves has a liquid-repellent effect. If the inner lining is made of cotton or a breathable material, sweaty hands are avoided and longer working hours are possible. Some work gloves are offered with reflectors, which can be a useful criterion for outdoor work.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about work gloves answered in detail

During our research on the topic of work gloves, we came across some frequently asked questions. We have compiled the most important questions for you and will answer them below.

Work gloves do not only protect you from injuries in case of accidents. They help with many tasks involving difficult materials and objects. (Image source: Ricardo-Gomez Angel / unsplash.com)

What types of work gloves are there?

Because of the many uses of work gloves, there are different types. These are for example for:

  • Gardening
  • Construction work
  • Assembly work
  • Handicraft

For more specific requirements, there are also suitable work gloves, for example welding and cut protection gloves.

Where are which work gloves used?

The use of work gloves is mainly determined by the material used. The following table gives you a basic overview:

Material Field of application
Leather for rough work in the garden, on construction sites and forest or road work
Synthetic materials (latex, nylon, nitrile, polyurethane or vinyl foam) for precision mechanical work
when working with liquids
when working with chemical substances
when working with smooth and angular objects
cotton when working with particularly scratch-sensitive materials such as glass or porcelain

The manufacturer’s product descriptions list the various possible uses. These should always be observed.

Are there work gloves for children?

There are also work gloves for the “little” craftsmen. The material is usually knitted polyester with latex or nitrile coating. The main purpose of work gloves is to protect against minor hazards in the garden or when doing DIY. They come in sizes two to six and different colours.

How much do work gloves cost?

The price of work gloves depends on the material, the size and the other functions. With this table we want to give you an overview of the individual price classes:

Price class Available products
Low-priced (0 – 10€) for simple activities and requirements
Medium-priced (10 – 20€) for increased requirements and more need for protection
High-priced (20€ and more) for special requirements and special protection needs

Many manufacturers also offer their work gloves in so-called economy packs. These are available as a set of two up to a pack of 12. For frequent use of work gloves, it is therefore worth buying these offers.

Can work gloves be washed?

Work gloves made of synthetic materials can be washed in the washing machine at 30 degrees without hesitation. Higher temperatures should be avoided, as otherwise the protective effect is no longer guaranteed. Some manufacturers now offer washable work gloves. You should always follow the washing instructions.

However, work gloves made of leather or with a high leather content should not be washed in the washing machine. We recommend cleaning them with lukewarm water or a soft brush.

How often do you have to change work gloves?

Changing work gloves depends on the use of the gloves and the wear of the material. For example, disposable gloves should only be used once.

Excessive use can cause the work gloves to wear out more quickly. Therefore, the gloves should be checked accordingly before each use. If there is visible damage such as open seams or holes, you should definitely use new work gloves.

Conclusion

There are suitable work gloves for every field of activity and every job. The thicker the material of the gloves, the greater the protection provided. At the same time, however, the sense of touch and sensitivity at work is reduced.

Therefore, a balance should be struck between safety and comfort. For allergy sufferers, the material used is an important factor. The manufacturer’s specifications will help you here.

Work gloves that are worn over a longer period of time should be made of breathable material. Sweaty hands reduce comfort and grip. Ultimately, the chosen work glove must of course meet the requirements to offer the best possible protection.

(Cover photo: Jonathan Kemper / unsplash)

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