For the last four or five years, I’ve kept different kinds of rubber gloves in my workshop. I’ve gotten in the habit of using them for finishing, working on vehicles – stuff like that. I like the way my hands are cleaner when I go back into the house after a session working in the shop, and I like the way I’m reducing my exposure to harmful substances. The first kind of rubber gloves I used were just the kind that doctors use and they’re pretty thin. They do the job but they’re not all that strong. The thing is, protective, disposable gloves are becoming more popular with practical, hands-on people. One of my current favourites is a kind of glove called Monkey Wrench.
They’re a thin and disposable glove, but they’re also a kind of work glove. And I like them because they’re stronger than regular rubber gloves. They’ve got a textured surface so they’re a little easier to grip with, and they just last a long time. And though they’re disposable, you don’t have to dispose of them right away. If you buy them large enough you can take Monkey Wrench gloves off without turning them inside out. My hand is not really an extra, extra large size, but that’s what I order and use. They’re not exactly tight, but tight enough. You can still pick up little parts and things, and since they don’t necessarily turn inside out when you remove them, you can put them back on again at least a few times. My only concern with regular disposable gloves is the non-biodegradable waste they create when you throw them out. Solving this problem is why a new kind of disposable glove called Green Monkey caught my eye.
They’re from the same company that sells Monkey Wrench – Watson Gloves – and they’ve been making gloves in Canada for more than a hundred years. I didn’t know anything about Green Monkey until Summer 2019, but I’m impressed with what I’ve found. Instead of lasting for 200 years in a landfill like conventional disposable gloves, Green Monkey will deteriorate in 10 years according to accelerated landfill deterioration testing. Green Monkey is thinner than Monkey Wrench, so I’d probably use Monkey Wrench when I need something especially tough.
Both Green Monkey and Monkey Wrench are actually made of a material called nitrile. That’s important to know because nitrile is a synthetic rubber and it’s stronger than the other kind of glove technology, which is latex. Latex is a natural rubber. They harvest latex from the sap of rubber trees, then treat it so it’s not a liquid. The problem with latex is that people fairly frequently develop allergies to it. Not right away necessarily, but eventually. So if you started wearing rubber gloves for your work around the shop and find that your hands are itchy or you’re getting some rash or something like that, it very well could be the gloves you’re using (if they’re latex). Nitrile doesn’t trigger allergic reactions as far as I’ve heard.
In practice I keep a box of Green Monkey and Monkey Wrench in my shop. The Green Monkey (4 mil thick) is for common use, and the Monkey Wrench (8 mil thick) when I need something tougher than usual. Either way, the main takeaway is limiting your exposure to harmful substances. Canadians can order Green Monkey from Amazon.ca here. US citizens can order them here.
Bottom line: Protecting yourself against harmful substances might not be something you think about when you’re too young, but the older you get, the more precious your health becomes, the more you realize how precious it’s been all along. The right kind of gloves can help protect your health, so why not?