When it comes to expiration date of disposable gloves, we are actually talking about how long we can use them before they start becoming ineffective at protecting our hands from contaminants. When gloves keep beyond the expiration date, they would be easily teared or cracked if you stretch them. As a matter of fact, the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) does not mandate the expiration dates for gloves, but most of manufacturers still prefer to give their gloves a shelf life.
1. What determine nitrile gloves’ shelf lives?
The shelf life of glove is the period of time that glove can function normally. This period can be long or short, and the length of this period is generally evaluated by elongation at break before and after glove’s aging. However, an exact shelf life time period of nitrile glove depends on what specific material that gloves are made of and storage condition. Generally, latex glove has the shortest shelf life of three years, while the self lives can be up to almost five years for both vinyl and nitrile gloves. However, it is not absolute. Many disposable nitrile gloves have shelf lives of up to ten years with the original package unopened and intact. Once the gloves are taken out of their package and exposed to moisture or light, they will deteriorate much faster.
2. How to properly store nitrile gloves?
Here are some tips to avoid increasing degrading rate of your nitrile gloves:
Do store your nitrile gloves in cool, dry and dark places.
Do keep your nitrile gloves away from heat sources and moisture.
Do follow the shelf life guidelines written on glove packaging.
Do not store your nitrile gloves in places where temperatures go higher than 90-degrees Fahrenheit and lower than 50-degrees Fahrenheit.
Do not expose your nitrile gloves to ozone or ultraviolet light for extended periods of time.
Do not break the seal on glove packaging unless you are ready to use them.
However, all the shelf lives of disposable gloves are only estimates. Most nitrile gloves can be stored for as long as ten years without any obvious damage when stored in the most ideal storage condition. Nitrile gloves are still safe to use as long as they do not show the following signs: brittleness, less elasticity, discoloration and tears or cracks when stretched.