Aerosols and wipes can be the mainstay of any cleaning program, and their convenience, cost effectiveness, and ease of use and storage can make them a perfect addition to any jan/san arsenal.

But the decision to use one or the other — or both together — can depend on a few factors, the most important being application.

Because of their convenience and effectiveness, wipes and aerosols can be used to disinfect a variety of touch points and surfaces, including door handles, soap dispensers, paper dispensers, phones, switch plates, waste receptacles, computer screens, and handrails to name just a few.

And the industries best suited for wipes and aerosols use are numerous and widespread. The National Wiper Alliance cites aerospace, automotive, industrial, foodservice, hospitality, medical, institutional, government, and janitorial as just a few industries that employ the use of both.  They are widely used in education and healthcare, as well.


Wipes, which come in a variety of sizes, are pre-moistened or come in containers that allow for the addition of chemicals, are gaining in popularity. In fact, the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (EDANA) cites ease of use, time and money savings, convenience, and the prevention of cross-contamination are just a few factors for wipe popularity.

They have gained so much appeal from their cost and convenience that the International Nonwovens & Disposables Association (INDA) estimates the sales of wipes in the food industry alone will increase to $139 million by 2013.

“The convenience factor for some folks is that they can carry that container of wipes into a facility and do what they need to do,” says Bill McGarvey, director of training and sustainability for Warminster, Pa.-based Philip Rosenau Co., Inc.  “And they are they are getting a better cost in use by using dilution control with the wipes.”

Darrel Hicks, author of “Infection Prevention for Dummies,” finds wipes ideal for the healthcare setting. “Where we have found the greatest benefit to wipes is with nursing and other clinical staff.”

For example, he says, wet wipes are useful for wiping off equipment between patient visits, rather than using a cleaning cloth and disinfect.

“If a respiratory therapist goes into a patient’s room, lowers the bed rail and then puts the bed rail back up, they should wipe off that bed rail so they don’t contaminate the hands or gloves of the next person. Wipes are ideal for that.”


Aerosols also continue to be a popular way to clean.  In a recent survey, the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) reports 2010 as the highest year ever for U.S. aerosol production with 400 aerosol product-related companies currently existing nationwide. They produce 3.1 billion aerosol products annually in the U.S., which establishes the historical high for fillings in the United States and exceeds the 2005 record by almost 7 million units. They generate $15 billion in annual revenue.

“The new report confirms that aerosol products continue to be popular among consumers,” said CSPA president and CEO Chris Cathcart in a news release. “This industry delivers to the marketplace a variety of innovative products — from first aid to food products, from air care to automotive care — via this unique packaging form which offers convenience and efficiency.”

Fans of aerosols know that today they deliver cleaning in a controlled “clean hands” way free of bacterial contamination.  What’s more, aerosols are air tight, preventing the contents from spilling and spoiling, so they can be stored safely for long periods of time.

Cynthia Kincaid is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ohio.