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Wet wipes: keeping them out of our seas
Wet wipes: keeping them out of our seas
Fatbergs – those revolting sewer mountains made of wet wipes, grease and other gunk – have been cropping up all over the place in the past year or so, from London and Cardiff to Staffordshire and Devon.
As well as causing trouble in wastewater systems, wipes can find their way into oceans. Along with other types of plastic pollution, they can cause long-term problems for sea creatures and the marine environment.
Wet wipes made up more than 90% of the material causing sewer blockages ? that Water UK investigated in 2017.
Friends of the Earth commissioned a report from research group Eunomia, Reducing Household Contributions to Marine Plastic Pollution [PDF]. This reveals our everyday habits that result in all sorts of plastics getting into our seas. Sometimes from seemingly unlikely sources, such as wet wipes.
What's so wrong with wet wipes?
Millions of us have grabbed a wet wipe to clean our hands, faces, worktops, children, and almost everything else at some point. What harm can it do, we might think – they’re only little squares of wet tissue. Aren’t they?
But now people are realising that wet wipes, like so many other everyday throwaway items, contain plastic, and aren’t so harmless after all.
Three particular stories in the past year have highlighted the growing concerns over wet wipes.
Baby wipes are essential for keeping your baby fresh, clean, moisturized, and comfortable between baths.
But not all baby wipes are created equal, which is why we put so much time into finding the best baby wipes every year!
In this article, we dive into the details to teach you over a dozen important facts about baby wipes, including how they're made, ingredients, textures, cleaning effectiveness, and disposal.
What are Baby Wipes?
Baby wipes are pre-moistened towelettes designed to effectively clean and soothe a baby's skin during diaper changes.
They are usually dispensed single-serve in thin rectangular sheets made from cotton, bamboo, polyester, and other non-woven blends. Importantly, baby wipes use sensitive ingredients to avoid irritating your baby's skin, and usually contain at least one moisturizing and soothing ingredient.
For these reasons, baby wipes are perfect for cleaning both number 1 (urine) and number 2 (poop) off your baby's private parts.
How are Baby Wipes Made?
Most baby wipes are made from cotton, polyester, bamboo, or a nonwoven blend of multiple fibers that are saturated with water, oil, cleansers, and preservatives.
Instead of using a time-consuming fabric weaving process, baby wipe manufacturers use a non-woven fabrication process (similar to how dryer sheets are made).
Here are the typical steps involved in making baby wipes:
Raw ingredients such as cotton, polyester, viscose, cellulose, polypropylene, and bamboo fibers are blended together in giant vats of wet mixture.
Short and long bonds are created between the fibers using chemicals, heat, and/or force, causing them to stick together.
These fiber mixtures are then flattened, spun, and dried, and rolled into spools resembling giant paper towel rolls (see image below).
These rolls are then sent into large industrial machines that cut, shape, saturate (with the wet ingredients), fold, and package the wipes.
Alcohol Wipes for Both Everyday Cleaning and Critical Applications
For many organizations, presaturated wipes are the ideal mix of form and function. Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) wipes are commonly used for degreasing, cleaning off fingerprints, removing flux residues, and even disinfecting hard surfaces.
Alcohol wipes generally come packaged in pop-up tubs where the wipes are pulled up from the top, plastic boxes, or pouches that reduce linting caused by wipe perforations. They can even come individually wrapped, which is perfect for field maintenance.
Isopropyl alcohol presaturated wipes can be used in a wide variety of applications:
Cleaning optical surfaces
Cleaning fiber optic connectors and fusion splicers
Cleaning computer keyboards
Cleaning and applying ESD treatments to display screens
Removing oil, dust, and other contaminants
Cleaning and protecting sensitive contact surfaces

What is Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)?
Isopropyl alcohol (also referred to as CAS #67-63-0, IPA, isopropanol and 2-propanol) dissolves a wide range of polar and non-polar soils, including light oils, fingerprints, cutting fluids, flux residues, carbon deposits, and mold release.
For electronic printed circuit board (PCB) assembly, isopropyl alcohol is used to clean flux residues from recently soldered circuit boards and in both PCB repair and rework. IPA is also used to remove solder paste and adhesive from SMT stencils. Maintenance cleaning with isopropyl alcohol is common for removing caked-on and burnt-on flux from SMT reflow ovens, wave soldering fingers, selective soldering nozzles, pallets, and anywhere else flux tends to collect in automated soldering processes.

What Are the Common Concentrations of Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)?
Isopropyl alcohol is available in a variety of dilutions. These dilutions are characterized by the amount of water in each solution. Isopropyl alcohol is hydrophilic or water miscible, so it readily accepts water into an azeotropic solution. When you see “70% isopropyl alcohol” on the label, it refers to the amount of alcohol in relation to the amount of dissolved water – i.e. 70% alcohol to 30% water. Water can be removed to form purer grades of isopropyl alcohol, forming what is called “anhydrous” isopropyl alcohol.
Whether IPA has 0.2% or 50% water has little effect on the look and smell of the material, but greatly impacts surface tension (its ability to wet), and its dry time. The more water isopropyl alcohol contains, the greater the surface tension. With a higher surface tension, you run the risk of the liquid beading up as it dries, which can lead to spotting. “Water spots” are particularly problematic when cleaning mirrors, lenses, and other optics.
The dry time is greatly increased as the percentage of water in the alcohol solution is increased. This can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the application. For example, isopropyl alcohol is often used as a flux remover to remove flux residues from around solder joints. Technicians tend to prefer a fast dry time so they can clean the electronics and bring them back into service as quickly as possible.
For breaking down and removing thick, gummy, or baked-on materials where more dwell or soak time is required, slowing down the dry time often improves the cleaning effectiveness. This is one of the reasons that 70% pure isopropyl alcohol is commonly used for both degreasing and SMT stencil cleaning. In the case of electrical contact cleaning, the faster evaporation helps ensure that flammable solvent is gone before energizing the equipment.

Simply put, antibacterial wipes are pre-moistened towelettes that contain a sanitizing or disinfecting formula that kill or reduce germs on surfaces and skin. They’re often packaged in convenient containers designed to easily use one wipe at a time.
Antibacterial wipes are easier to use than sprays and towels because of their simple, one-step design. Additionally, cleaning with a contaminated towel can spread germs and bacteria to an uncontaminated surface. When used properly, wipes help to eliminate this problem.

Beware, all wipes are not formulated the same. You should always be conscious of any ingredients that are toxic, could damage the surfaces you’ll be cleaning, or pose a threat to human health. It’s important to always look for antibacterial wipes that are EPA registered and/or FDA approved.
Taking this one step further, different wipes will list different kill claims and you should always reference the pathogens that a wipe can kill based on your unique business needs. Many state and national regulations require EPA registered and/or FDA approved formulas to be used in public settings. This is because these products are put through extensive testing and scrutiny before earning a seal of approval, and are proven to deliver on their claims.
Antibacterial wipes can be made of several materials, ranging from non-woven cellulose (thin and prone to leaving fibers on surfaces) to recyclable non-woven polyester and polypropylene wipes (with mid-level durability), to biodegradable fabrics ranging in quality and thickness.
After answering your question, “What are antibacterial wipes?”, you may also be curious about what they do.
When applied to surfaces, equipment, and skin, antibacterial wipes decrease or completely eradicate the presence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that dwell on them. To effectively sanitize or disinfect a surface, the item being wiped typically has to remain wet for a specific time. This is known as the Dwell Time.
So, on average, what is the recommended Dwell Times for antibacterial wipes?
This will vary from formula to formula. The wipes will be tested in a laboratory environment over many trials to determine how long the solution must be in contact with harmful organisms to kill them. These wipes kill pathogens when they are wet. Most EPA-registered sanitizers need between two to ten minutes to sanitize or disinfect a surface.
We’ve all wondered if dog wipes are safe for our pets and if they even work. For years, I rolled my eyes at dog wipes. I was convinced it was a waste of money and harmful to the environment. Then, I saw dog bath wipes on sale at my local salon and decided to try them. I’m still on the fence.
Dog Wipes Do Have a Purpose
Pet wipes are not a substitute for a good dog bath. I want to make that super clear. However, you can use dog bath wipes for quick cleanups. Dog wipes work well on surface dirt, or dirt floating on top of your dog’s coat. They’re also helpful for cleaning small areas, such as dirty paws or mud on your dog’s muzzle. In short, dog wipes are great for spot cleaning.
By far, dog wipes are mostly used for wiping dirty paws clean after a romp in the yard. It’s also a good idea to wipe your dog’s paws down after a walk in the park. You never know what his feet may have come into contact with. If you don’t wipe off his feet, his paws will track inside your home.
Dog bath wipes are an excellent choice if someone is allergic to dog dander. Weekly baths with a gentle shampoo is a must, but daily wipe downs with dog wipes are smart because they’ll remove outdoor allergens from your dog’s coat, which usually causes a reaction for most allergy prone people.

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