I have a few cases of brand-new, nitrile gloves of a type and vendor that used to be good. But apparently, the vendor has moved manufacturing to a different country and outsourced customer service to Hell. I can't return the gloves.

The gloves all have a chemical smell, resembling a burnt transistor with a hint of burnt rubber. If worn for a while, they irritate the skin.

Since this model of glove used to be outstanding, and the cases were not cheap, I'm hoping there's some way to salvage the gloves. I've tried repeated washings in mild detergent, or just airing them out for 4 weeks. No change.

What chemical(s) is/are this likely to be? How can I tell?
Is there a way to neutralize this/these compound(s) without otherwise destroying the gloves?

  • $\begingroup$ I'd just toss them out, a few cases of nitrile gloves aren't expensive and the amount of work it might take if it is at all possible would likely be not that cheap. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2012 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist, 5 cases, retail value over $500 US. (and that's by no means the highest price for gloves with the same specs) We currently are using substitutes and will trash these if needed, but I hate waste. (Think of the children!) $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2012 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ It seems we're talking about different kinds of gloves, I thought they were the standard disposable kind for around 5-10 EUR per 100 pack. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2012 at 9:00
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist, disposable Nitrile gloves typically have either 500 or 1000 per case. These are thick, exam-grade gloves with long cuffs. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2012 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Brock Adams: Would it be possible to analyse the vapors using IR-spectroscopy? $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2012 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


Pack a glove into a glass container, let it sit for a few hours or days, get the container to your institute's mass spectroscopy and gas chromatography departments, and have them have a go at the gas phase in the container. I think that might be your best bet at finding out what is leaking out of these gloves. An IR or UV/Vis of the gas phase might also yield results, as Spießbürger suggested above.

Actually, if you got an analytics department at your university/institute, why not go to them, they might be able to have someone do a B.Sc. or M.Sc. thesis on that. Even if you end up trashing the gloves, at least then it won't have been a complete waste.

  • $\begingroup$ Okay, I'll see if the local JC has that equipment and is game. Nearest university is 2 hours away by car. (I'll call them too.) $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2012 at 6:59
  • $\begingroup$ Wasn't able to do this, but this is the best answer so far. The gloves were scrapped; what a waste. $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2013 at 7:10

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