When determining the quality of your cleanroom gloves, it is important to take glove odor and color into account.
Odor:Typical powder-free cleanroom latex gloves will be an off-white color. If you take one of these gloves and snap it several times, then smell the glove, you might smell a rather putrid odor. This odor is the residual chlorine that gets trapped in the molecular structure of the latex that continues to outgas, or release, when the glove is warm. In other words, latex gloves have odor because there are chlorine impurities that get trapped in the molecular structure.
If you conduct the same test on a cleanroom nitrile glove, you might also find a putrid odor. In nitrile gloves however, this odor is caused by surfactants, or manufacturing impurities, that haven't been properly leached out of the glove during the manufacturing process.
Both types of gloves go through rigorous post-processing process. Think of it like your clothes: after they've gone through a wash and dry, your clothes should have only a light odor. There should not be any residual contaminant left. The same is true for gloves. If they have an odor, they are outgassing, and outgassing means contaminants. If your gloves have an odor, send them to Environmental Health and Safetyfor particle count testing, and disqualify them.
Both latex rubber and nitrile rubber are naturally white materials. Latex gloves will always be off-white because of the chlorine used in manufacturing. Nitrile gloves end up in a variety of colors because manufacturers often put in an FDA-approved pigment. Although these pigments are FDA-approved and will not cause harm to your operator, any pigment added to a nitrile glove will do 3 detrimental things.
First, it will decrease the tensile strength and elasticity of the cleanroom glove. Second, it will also negatively affect the cleanliness of the glove because an impurity has been added. Finally, a pigment will also adversely impact the durability and wearability. As your operators wear pigmented nitrile gloves for a long period of time they will begin to notice pin holes in the crotches of the gloves.
To summarize, cleanroom nitrile gloves should be white. Any added pigment will negatively affect efficacy of the glove. Because of the chlorination during manufacturing, cleanroom latex gloves will always be an off-white color. And with regards to smell, if your gloves give off a putrid odor, do not wear them; they have not been properly post-process cleaned.
Learn more about how to select the most appropriate cleanroom gloves for your specific task, download the free cleanroom glove selection guide.