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A wet wipe, also known as a wet towel, or a moist towelette, is a small moistened piece of paper or cloth that often comes folded and individually wrapped for convenience. Wet wipes are used for cleaning purposes, like personal hygiene or household cleaning.
Wet wipes are produced as air-laid paper where the fibres are carried and formed to the structure of paper by air. They are moistened with water or other liquids like isopropyl alcohol depending on the applications. The paper might be treated with softeners, lotions or added perfume to adjust the properties or "feeling". Preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone are used to prevent bacterial or fungal growth in the package. The finished wet wipes are folded and put in pocket size package or a box dispenser.
Wet wipes can serve a number of personal and household purposes. Although marketed primarily for wiping infants' backsides in diaper changing, it is not uncommon for consumers to also use the product to clean floors, toilet seats, and other surfaces around the home. Parents also use wet wipes, or as they are called for baby care, baby wipes, for wiping up baby vomit and to clean babies' hands and faces.
Baby wipes are wet wipes used to cleanse the sensitive skin of infants. These are saturated with solutions anywhere from gentle cleansing ingredients to alcohol based 'cleaners'. Baby wipes are typically different pack counts (ranging up to 80 or more sheets per pack), and come with dispensing mechanisms. The origin of baby wipes most likely came in the mid-1950s as more people were travelling and needed a way to clean up on the go. One of the first companies to produce these was a company called Nice-Pak. They made napkin sized paper cloth saturated with a scented skin cleanser. Rockline Industries of Sheboygan, Wisconsin (which has a large part of the private label wipe market in several segments) went on to be the first to innovate the first baby wipe refill pack and pop-up packs which have become common in the marketplace.
The first real baby wipe products appeared on the market in 1990 and were larger companies like Kimberly-Clark who produced Huggies and Procter & Gamble's Pampers. As the technology to produce wipes matured and became more affordable, smaller brands began to appear. By the 1990s, most super stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart had their own private label brand of wipes made by other manufacturers. After this period there was a boom in the industry and many local brands started manufacturing because of low entry barriers.
Many green-minded parents, or those looking to save extra money, are using washable baby wipes. These are typically small squares of material (cotton, bamboo or fleece) that can be pre-soaked ready to use, or wet as required. Because they don't contain chemicals or artificial fragrances like most disposable wipes, they are very kind and gentle on the skin. They are often reported to be more effective at removing solids from the skin because of their textured nature. A study conducted by The University of Manchester has found that baby wipes had an equivalent effect on skin hydration when compared with cotton wool and water.
Cleansing pads are fiber sponges which have been previously soaked with water, alcohol and other active ingredients for a specific intended use. They are ready to use hygiene products and they are simple and convenient solutions to dispose of dirt or other undesirable elements.
There are different type of cleansing pads offered by the beauty industry: make-up removing pads, anti-spot treatments and anti-acne pads that usually contain salicylic acid, vitamins, menthol and other treatments).
Cleansing pads for preventing infection are usually saturated with alcohol and bundled in sterile package. Hands and instrument may be deinfected with these pads while treating wounds. Disinfecting cleansing pads are often included in first aid kits for this purpose. Since the outbreak of H1N1 sales of individual impregnated wet wipes and gels in sachets and flowpacks have dramatically increased in the UK following the Government’s advice to keep hands and surfaces clean to prevent the spread of germs.
Pre-impregnated industrial-strength cleaning wipes with powerful cleaning fluid that cuts through the dirt as the high performance fabric absorbs the residue Industrial wipes has the ability to clean a vast range of though substances from hands, tools and surfaces, including: grime, grease, oil- & water-based paints & coatings, adhesives, silicone & acrylic sealants, poly foam, epoxy, oil, tar and more.
There are pain relief pads sopping with alcohol and benzocaine. These pads are good for treating minor scrapes, burns, and insect bites. They disinfect the injury and also ease pain and itching.
Wet wipes can also be bought in stores for private usage. In Southeast Asia, wet wipes are often sold out of refrigerators to give the wipes a refreshingly cool effect. Many adults use wet wipes in place of toilet paper.
They are often dispensed in restaurants, at service stations, along with airline meals, in doctors' offices, and other similar places. They are often included as part of a standard sealed cutlery package.
Wet wipes have also found a use among visitors to outdoor music festivals, particularly those who camp, as an alternative to the communal showers. The wet wipes are a preferable option to the communal facilities for which there are generally extremely long queues.
Medical wet wipes are available for various applications. These include alcohol wet wipes, chlorhexidine wipes (for disinfection of surfaces and noninvasive medical devices) and sporicidal wipes. Medical wipes can be used to prevent the spread of pathogens such as the Norovirus and Clostridium Difficile.
Effect on sewage systems
Since the mid-2000s, wet wipes such as baby wipes have become more common for use as an alternative to toilet paper in countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. This usage has in some cases been encouraged by manufacturers, who have labelled some wet wipe brands as "flushable". Wet wipes, even "flushable" ones, when flushed into toilets have been known to clog internal plumbing, septic systems, and public sewer systems. The tendency for fat and wet wipes to cling together encourages the growth of the problematic obstructions in sewers known as 'fatbergs'. In addition, some brands of wipes contain alcohol, which can kill the bacteria and enzymes responsible for breaking down solid waste in septic tanks.
A class action suit was filed in 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against Target Corporation, on behalf of consumers in Ohio that purchased Target-brand flushable wipes. The lawsuit alleges the retailer misled consumers by marking the packaging on its Up & Up® brand wipes as flushable and safe for sewer and septic systems. The lawsuit also alleges that these wipes are a public health hazard because they clog pumps at municipal waste-treatment facilities.
- Oshibori, a Japanese wet hand towel used to clean hands
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