Aerosols And Wipes: Simple Solutions
Aerosols and wipes may be different in format, but the two products are quite similar in function. Both do not require extensive training before use, thereby resulting in a labor savings. With aerosols and premoistened wipes there is no measuring or mixing, which eliminates the possibility of using a cleaning product that is diluted incorrectly. When storage is at a minimum, aerosol cleaners and wipes fit easily into compact areas. And with today's emphasis on green cleaning, wipes and aerosols meet the environmentally friendly criteria.
Aerosols and premoistened wipes are perceived as having a higher cost than other cleaning products. However, the convenience and safety associated with these products outweigh the extra expense. If jan/san distributors have passed on carrying these products in the past, it may be time for another look.
In recent years, the use of disposable consumer and industrial wipes has grown significantly, according to the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (EDANA). The association cites convenience, time savings, ease of use, economic efficiency, prevention of cross contamination and the diversification of the nonwovens industry to accommodate various applications as reasons for the increasing popularity of consumer and industrial wipes.
"In 2008, the North American sales of commercial and general-use wipes reached $543 million with a predicted annual growth rate, before the downturn of the economy, of 4.3 percent," says Ian Butler, director of market research and statistics for the Cary, N.C.-based International Nonwovens & Disposables Association (INDA), the sister trade association to EDANA.
A recent INDA report estimates the sale of wipes in the North American food industry will rise to $139 million by 2013 as compared to $120 million in 2008.
"The sale of wipes in the healthcare institutional market totaled $374 million in 2008 and is expected to grow by 4.7 percent annually," says Butler.
For virtually every cleaning/disinfecting need, there is an available premoistened wipe. Wipes are used regularly for cleaning hands, stainless steel, glass, furniture, whiteboards, vehicles, carpets, leather, gym equipment and restrooms. The use of wipes also is gaining popularity for removing graffiti and applying sunscreen, insecticide and repellents.
"Nonwoven technology and chemical formulations are constantly evolving," says Kristen Foth, marketing manager of ITW Dymon of Olathe, Kan. "The idea of premoistened wipes has moved beyond being thought of as baby wipes."
End users appreciate that wipes are premeasured and ready to use. There is no dilution or mixing, and limited training is needed.
"More than 90 percent of cleaning costs is in labor, and the use of ready-to-use wipes makes cleaning more efficient and cost effective," says Foth.
Wipes offer greater variety for end users than paper towels and liquid complements, says Susan Stansbury, director of Converters Expo/Converting Influence, a Green Bay, Wis.-based organization that brings together converters and allied companies to promote the industry. Besides having a niche product available for nearly every cleaning task, wipes can have non-linting surface features with absorbing center elements, can incorporate powders, simulate washcloths, feature fragrances and be two-sided with scrubbing and polishing features, she adds.
Wipes keep improving and newer materials are more absorbent, easier to separate at perforations and feel better in the hand, says Erwin Rendall, director of sales and marketing at Bro-Tex Inc., in St. Paul, Minn.
"We design unique perforation patterns to match the nonwoven and dispensing method," says Rendall. "This reduces waste by ensuring the towels separate properly and dispense one sheet at a time."
It can be tough for distributors to think of a disposable product as green, but according to Foth, premoistened wipes can actually be a green alternative to reusable rags.
"A study conducted by Lockheed Martin Environmental Services for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that industrial laundries discharge more than 13 million pounds of hazardous contaminants into water treatment facilities," says Foth. "More than 80 percent of those contaminants come from the wastewater of laundered towels."
A recent Aerosol Pressurized Products Survey conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) ranks 2009 as the United States' sixth highest year for aerosol production, with North America maintaining one-third market share of global aerosol production.
"Considering the state of our economy, aerosol production remains strong," says Chris Cathcart, CSPA president. "The technology has allowed for creative ways to deliver products in this practical and easy-to-use form, which continue to be in high demand."
CSPA estimates that approximately 400 aerosol-related companies in the United States produce 3.1 billion products, which generate approximately $15 billion in aerosol product sales each year.
Aerosols help simplify the training process. Since aerosols always have the same formula there is no need to teach janitors different dilution ratios, says Tony Chiefari, vice president of sales and marketing for Claire Manufacturing Co., Chicago.
Not only is training easier, but safer. There are no concerns of mixing the wrong chemicals together or spills.
"No personal protection equipment is required when using an aerosol," says Judy Albazi, president, Chase Products Co., Oak Brook, Ill.
Aerosol products clean glass, stainless steel, furniture and carpet. They degrease, disinfect and deodorize. Paints, insecticides and air care products are also available.
Like wipes, aerosols fit into green cleaning programs.
"With the exception of a few specialized products used for medical purposes, today's aerosols no longer contain ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)," says Deborah Frey, senior business manager, Church & Dwight Co., Inc., Princeton, N.J.
Even though some aerosol products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the CSPA asserts that VOCs contribute very little to ozone formation due to their small quantity and low reactivity.
Aerosol designers and manufacturers are partnering with the EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) program, which places the DfE label on household and commercial cleaning products that meet the EPA's requirements for human and environmental health.
The EPA describes manufacturers who become DfE partners as having "invested heavily in research, development and reformulation to ensure that their ingredients and finished product line up on the green end of the health and environmental spectrum while maintaining or improving product performance."
Aerosol cans are recyclable and more than 5,300 U.S. communities accept empty aerosol cans into their recycling programs. Chase Products Co. was the recipient of the 2006 Can of the Year Award for being the first aerosol company in the country to use a can manufactured and designed by DS Container (DSC) in Batavia, Ill. DSC cans are two-piece, polymer-coated containers and require less energy to produce than standard three-piece cans, explains Albazi. The cans are made with a minimum of 50 percent recycled steel, do not have top or side seams and are lithographed during manufacturing. Many DSC cans have E-twist caps, which use less than 25 percent of the plastic in a double-shell overcap.
Though they look different on the outside, premoistened wipes and aerosol sprays share many similar functions and attributes. Probably the most common trait is that both are an effective — and green — alternative to traditional chemicals.
Catherine Dinsmore is a freelance writer based in Watertown, Conn.