A glove can be classified as “sterile” if it meets certain sterilization standards that the FDA puts forth. Gloves marked as “sterile” have typically been sterilized by the manufacturer. Gloves that are “non-sterile” have not been sterilized by the manufacturer, but still must be tested by the FDA to assure that they have been sterilized and meet the FDA assurance level.
One other major qualifier for “sterile” vs “non-sterile” is the acceptable quality level of pinholes, or AQL for short. Sterile, surgical grade gloves are required to have a lower AQL than non-sterile gloves. Sterile gloves must fall in the small range of 1.0-1.5 while non-sterile gloves can fall between 1.5 and 2.5. This number indicates the percentage of gloves in the sample that will have pinholes in them.
Rest assured, however, non-sterile gloves are not used in medical and surgical procedures. This industry must strictly use sterile gloves to ensure that there is no risk of contamination.