There are many different types of garden gloves and each one is best for a particular job. If you are a beginner gardener staring at the many choices in the garden glove aisle at the store, it can be confusing to know which ones are best. The truth is, they are all good for different things. There are three main categories of garden gloves: cotton, rubber and leather.
For lighter work in the garden, cotton gloves are very useful. They are easy to find in many stores and work well as an everyday pair of gloves. They are comfortable and also let your hands breath. Cotton gloves tend to be sold in a variety of fun colors and even patterned prints and are machine washable. They are also usually less expensive than rubberized or leather gloves. Though cotton garden gloves may be better fitting than other types of gloves, they are still not great for planting tiny seedlings. For working with small seeds, thin disposable latex gloves, which can be bought in boxes of 100, are best. These provide the best fit of any glove, but do not serve much purpose in the garden besides working with seedlings.
When using any handled tool in the garden, it is best to have a glove that provides friction between your hand and the handle of the tool. Rubber is great for this purpose. Some garden gloves are made with a pattern of rubber dots on the palm and fingers, and some are coated with rubber on all but the top of the hand which may be made of cotton or some other more breathable fabric. Heavy duty all-purpose rubber gloves are waterproof and lined with cotton so they keep your hands dry when doing very wet tasks and will also keep your hands quite warm on a cold and soggy day.
For ultra protection and gloves that last a long time, leather is the prime material. Some are made with a cotton upper hand and a palm and fingers of leather. These heavy duty gloves are capable of stripping the thorns and leaves off of a rose stem without hurting your hands. Another type of leather gardening glove is a goatskin glove which is infused with lanolin. These are great for light tasks such as weeding or planting and will protect your hands with their softer leather when using tools with repetitive motions such as a lopper. Elbow-length leather gloves, known as gauntlet gloves, are perfect for going deep into the rose garden and reaching in to trim trellises, for example. These are also great for carrying firewood into the house or moving arm loads of other prickly materials.