How Long do Sterile Gloves Last? 

Gloves are an integral part of the medical field. They keep doctors, nurses safe from contamination and spread of infections. Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, it has made disposable gloves a necessity for many people while on the job. 

When you buy disposable gloves in bulk for your office or workplace, they might sometimes sit in the storage area for a very long time until you use it. Therefore, you have to make sure that you are fully aware of the expiration time and limit of any sterile gloves. 

While the actual shelf life of a sterile glove depends on the material of the gloves and storage facilities, a rough rule of thumb is three years for disposable latex gloves and up to five years for disposable nitrile gloves.

How Long do Sterile Gloves Last

You should know that the FDA does not require non-sterile disposable gloves to have an expiration date labelled, but some manufacturers do. However, sterile gloves should have an expiration date on them.

So what are sterile gloves? 

Sterile gloves are classified as sterile when they fulfil the FDA’s sterilizing standards. Non-sterile gloves are often used for non-surgical medical procedures and exams, whereas surgical operations need the use of sterile gloves.

A sterile glove is devoid of germs and microorganisms. There is no micro-life form in a sterile glove that has the capacity to multiply and spread harmful germs or bacteria. 

Sterile gloves are used in operations and other medical settings when there is a significant danger of infection to the patient. They are packed in individual pairs to ensure that fresh gloves are fully germ-free.

So what are the different glove materials and their life span?


Latex is a natural polymer found in plants, however, the latex used in medical gloves is derived from rubber trees.

Latex is a typical glove material, however the inherent proteins in latex can cause allergic reactions ranging from mild discomfort to serious health concerns.

Because of this risk, hospitals are replacing latex gloves with nitrile or polyvinyl chloride gloves. Latex gloves have a three year shelf life.


Nitrile is a synthetic rubber that is widely used as a disposable glove. When compared to latex, nitrile has greater puncture and chemical resistance, making it ideal for medical exams and surgical operations.

It is possible for someone to have an allergic response to nitrile, albeit this is uncommon. Nitrile gloves have a five year shelf life.

Vinyl (PVC)

Polyvinyl chloride, sometimes known as PVC or vinyl, is a low-cost alternative to latex. PVC, like nitrile, is a synthetic polymer substance, however it does not have the same durability.

Vinyl gloves are excellent as a basic barrier, while nitrile gloves are superior for surgery and critical medical examinations. Vinyl gloves have a five year shelf life.

How to put on sterile gloves before any procedure?

1.) Hand hygiene should be practised. 

2.) Choose the proper size as sterile gloves come in various sizes. 

3.) Open the package of sterile gloves carefully by utilising the flaps that surround the packaging. 

4.) To begin with, put on the glove on your dominant hand first. Grab the inside of the glove’s cuff with your other hand and pick up the dominant hand’s glove.

Then transfer it to your dominant hand. Avoid touching anything other than the sterile packaging with the dominant gloved hand.

5.) Now use your dominant gloves hand to carefully place the glove on your other hand. 

6.) Make sure you don’t come in contact with your skin or other items while putting on the gloves. 

Things to keep in mind while donning sterile gloves:

1.) You should never use sterile gloves on anything other than what is necessary for the treatment. 

2.) If the sterile gloving process breaks down at any stage, replace the gloves with new ones from a fresh box. 

3.) Use sterile gloves when absolutely essential. 

4.) Never wash and reuse sterile gloves. 

5.) Never use gels or alcohol to clean gloves, instead, use a fresh pair each time. 

6.) Gloves do not replace basic hand hygiene prior to the use of sterile gloves.

Some guideline you can follow before using sterile gloves:

Studies have shown that many sterile gloves can last for more than 10 years with no severe damage if stored properly. But it is not the same for gloves that are opened from their packaging or those that have been exposed to moisture. 

Also, if you find some old gloves and they seem usable and okay, that is they’re still stretchable and undamaged, they can be used without any safety issues.

Because gloves that are unusable and damaged will lose their stretchability making them hard which becomes easier to understand that they cannot be used. 

When it comes to sterile gloves, some research also suggests that packages can be considered sterile unless it is damaged or opened, which means that if older gloves look to be usable, they can also be deemed sterile as long as the box has not been broken or opened.

How to store sterile gloves after you have purchased them?

When it comes to keeping and maintaining sterile gloves, there are numerous recommendations to keep in mind to maximise the shelf life of your gloves. 

1.) Avoid storing gloves in places where there are chances of UV rays exposure. It will damage the gloves. 

2.) Gloves are not to be stored in places where the temperature exceeds 90 degree fahrenheit. 

3.) The seal of the glove packaging should only be opened if used immediately. Because if gloves are kept open for an extended period of time, they risk getting damaged and become unsterile. 

4.) Keep your disposable nitrile and latex gloves in a cold, dark place.

5.) Keep your gloves in a place where they won’t be exposed to UV radiation. This includes fluorescent lights and other electrical equipment that emit UV rays. Natural latex gloves are quite sensitive to this type of exposure and can easily be damaged by it.


We know by now that sterile gloves are ideal for important surgical procedures, therefore, checking the expiration date mentioned on the label is essential.

There are various points to take care of while wearing sterile gloves and you have to make sure you follow them if you are performing a surgery or otherwise there might be some serious complications. 

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

Related Posts: