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What are wet wipes?--Definition/history and classification.

There is a lot more to wiping products than meets the eye. Through this series will be providing you a guide into the world of wipes and provide answers to the questions you might be asking. Today we are going to have a peek at what wet wipes is, its history and its applications.

Wet wipes are a familiar sight today. You can find them perhaps on your kitchen counter or in purses of mothers with a baby or kid in tow. Even offices, commercial establishments, and industrial facilities include wet wipes in their list of cleaning supplies. The fact is, these pieces of disposable, moist cloth or paper have become somewhat of a necessity in our lives.

From delicate cleaning to tough scrubbing, there is a wide variety of wipes and towels for your cleaning needs.

So what exactly are wet wipes, and how did they evolve?

Wet wipes, also known as wet towels, disinfecting wipes, or moist towelettes, are small, pre-moistened pieces of paper or fabric that often come folded and individually wrapped for convenience. They are mainly used for cleaning or disinfecting.

Wipes can be a paper, tissue or nonwoven; they are subjected to light rubbing or friction, in order to remove dirt or liquid from the surface. Consumers want wipes to absorb, retain or release dust or liquid on demand. One of the main benefits that wipes provide is convenience – using a wipe is quicker and easier than the alternative of dispensing a liquid and using another cloth/paper towel to clean or remove the liquid.

Most wipes are made of non-woven fabric similar to those used in dryer sheets. These are then saturated with a solution of water and gentle cleansing agents such as isopropyl alcohol. For that added scent, softness or moisturizing capability, the paper or cloth may also be treated with lotion and softeners. The finished product is then folded and placed inside packets, boxes or handy dispensers.

According to Wikipedia, There is a story about the invention of wipes going on that American Arthur Julius is seen as the inventor of the wet wipes. Julius worked in the cosmetics industry and adjusted 1957 a soap portionor machine, putting it in a loft in Manhattan. Julius trademarked the name Wet-Nap in 1958, a name for the product that is still being used. After fine tuning his newfangled hand-cleaning aid together with a mechanic, he unveiled his invention at the 1960 National Restaurant Show in Chicago and in 1963 started selling Wet-Nap products to Colonel Sanders for use in his KFC restaurant.

The need for these handy, cleaning wipes started when people began traveling a lot. During these trips, they realized a necessity to clean up quickly and easily without stopping at a hotel or motel.

The first companies to take advantage of this new product were major brands such as Kimberly-Clark and Procter & Gamble, who had the ability to purchase the costly specialized equipment needed for manufacturing cleaning products. But as technology progressed, producing these moist towelettes became more affordable, allowing smaller brands to venture into this business.

By the 1990s, a number of large supermarket chains began selling their own brand of wipes. Due to their lower prices, these store brands successfully lured consumers of other brands.

As the popularity of these scrubbing wipes increased, their use eventually shifted. What were once considered as primary hygienic tools for the body when on the road eventually became the number one means of cleaning babies instantly and conveniently.

Wipes started at the bottom or more precisely, the baby’s bottom. Yet, during the past decade, the category has grown to include hard surface cleaning, makeup applications and removal, dusting and floor cleaning.In fact, applications other than baby care now account for about 50% of sales in the wipes category.

Wipes mainly cater into 3 categories:

1.Personal Care wipes

2.Household cleaning wipe

3.Industrial cleaning wipe

Individual care wipe led the market for many years (with baby wipes being the largest sector) but household wipes dominated by 2005 accounting for 45% of sales in North America.1 Pet care wipes have also entered the market, such as Pawtizer, an antibacterial paw wipe because ‘there are as many germs on paws as on human hands’.2 The manufacture of wet wipes is specialised requiring bulky equipment for the manufacturing of the wipe substrate, its subsequent dosing with the ‘wet’ phase and final packaging. The formulating of the wet wipe solutions may be conducted inhouse or contracted out but the application to the substrate for personal care and household products is generally contracted out to manufacturers with the experience and equipment to handle the work. The main areas of use for wet wipes are set out in Table 1. The design of wet wipes, the often long term storage of partly used packs, evaporation of the solution, and the interaction between the various components of the wipes and packaging makes them more susceptible to contamination than most other personal care products.


The concerns of new parents are too numerous to list here, but among them is the need for safe, effective baby wipes. While this may seem like a simple thing to find, the market is saturated with any number of products that could have unknown effects on a child’s sensitive skin. Choosing the right beauty and baby care wipe for your baby can mean the difference between comfort and irritation – and the difference between quiet nights and fussy ones.

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