Over the past decade an increasingly diverse range of disposable personal hygiene wet wipes products have become available. The growth of the markets for such products is evidence of their popularity with the public. The appeal of wet wipes in both consumer and healthcare markets is primarily one of convenience and ease of use. Busy lifestyles created by the combinations of job pressures, increased children activities and an overall faster pace of life, mean that many people find themselves pressed for time; wipes allow them to perform daily tasks in substantially less time.
By modifying the base material and liquid types, manufacturers are able to tailor the physical properties of finished products to specific user needs. Thus, for example, in facial and baby wipes consumers benefit from improved softness and skincare features.
Flushable wipes are designed to deliver both sufficient wet strength in use and good disintegration properties to allow flushing them after use.
Wet wipes are useful for cleansing and caring of the skin of both adults and babies and contribute to hygiene and well-being. Millions of consumers throughout the world enjoy daily the benefits of wet wipes; appreciating the convenience and effectiveness they offer as an alternative to traditional cleansing means.
Although wet wipes don’t differ a lot from their appearance, how they are made (and what they are made of) is designed to best meet the requirements and expectations of all specific applications. Baby wipes and facial wipes contain long fibres for optimal strength (tear resistance) while flushable wipes are made of short fibres that provide a low wet strength after flushing them and biodegradability (this also explains why it is important to be aware of the proper disposal method of the wipes you’re using).
The appeal of wet wipes is primarily one of convenience and ease of use. In most cases, wipes obviate the need for the use of separate ‘wet and dry’ combinations in cleaning tasks (e.g. cotton wool and water, antibacterial cleaning spray used with cleaning cloths). Additionally, the portability of wet wipes enables all types of users to more easily maintain or even raise personal and environmental hygiene standards and reduces the risk of cross contamination.
With baby wipes being on the market for the longest time, their usage is widespread and much valued as a convenient, portable, hygienic way to keep babies clean.
While feminine hygiene wipes are a newer entrant to the market their benefits for improved quality of life are already well recognised by women who use them for hygiene and convenience.
Antibacterial wipes can help to sanitise shopping trolleys, restaurant tables, or swings in the playground to reduce the exposure of young children to germs. They also provide an easy way to maintain clean hands more effectively, especially when access to hand washing apparatus or even water is limited. Alcohol content can help reduce the spread of viruses, so schools are known to offer wet wipes to children for use on the way to lunch, or after trips to the washrooms.
Manufacturers of personal care, cosmetic and baby wet wipes are represented within EDANA, which coordinates the activities of the wet wipes industry in areas of mutual interest, in particular, those relating to product safety, environmental stewardship and societal benefits.
Nonwovens are used baby wipes, facial wipes, cleansing wipes, hand & body wipes, moist towelettes, flushable wipes, personal hygiene wipes, feminine hygiene wipes, antibacterial wipes, medicated wipes.
In 2008 EDANA completed a Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) comparing baby wipes, washcloth and cotton balls, which shows that a single-use product has no more impact on the environment than a reusable product. The study, commissioned by the main producers of baby wipes, shows a different environmental impact of baby wipes versus other cleaning methods, with no superiority on wash cloths and favourable results on the majority of indicators for the use of wipes vs. cotton balls.