Staying Clean Was Never So Easy

By Tim Wright, editor | June 9, 2014

Product innovation in the household wipes category continues to draw in consumers on the hunt for convenience.

Nonwoven household wipes have redefined the way we clean our homes. Whether it’s wet disinfectant wipes for counters, glass wipes for mirrors or Swiffer dry floor wipes, there seems to be a wipe on the market for every corner of the home these days.

Overall the wipes market remains strong. In the U.S., the wipes market was worth $2.5 billion in 2012, according to a new market research report from Companiesandmarkets.com. The market appears to be poised for future positive growth with consumers willing to spend more dollars to save time.

Within the home cleaning category increased product capabilities have also allowed consumers to see added benefits with the use of wipes. Better products are hitting the market all the time.

The Companiesandmarkets.com report reveals that Procter & Gamble continued to lead sales in the U.S. wipes market in 2012 with 31% of value sales, due in large part to its Swiffer starter kits, which command significantly higher unit prices than actual wipes. Beyond the higher unit prices, the Swiffer brand dominates floor-cleaning systems with a whopping 92% value share in 2012, especially after the exit of Clorox Ready Mop in 2011. Within impregnated wet wipes, 39% of value sales went to Clorox to give it the lead with $250 million in sales for 2012.

Wet floor wipes is expected to show the most value growth over the forecast period, up by 9% to reach $117 million in 2017, according to the report. Dry electro-static wipes such as the Lysol Clean-Flip are expected to follow wet floor wipes with a 7% growth.

The future of fabric is now

The Precision Fabrics Group, Greensboro, NC, has developed a variety of home cleaning materials with unique chemistries integrated into nonwoven fabrics. Instead of using multiple bottles and sponges to clean, all that’s needed is one of its wipes or cleaning mitts to get the job done.

PFG has most recently developed an innovative cleaning towel for use around the entire house—the kitchen, bathroom and garage—for all types of cleaning chores.

In the kitchen it can replace dishrags used for cleaning dirty pots and pans, and it can be used with spray cleaners on counter tops, appliances, cook tops and even floors. This towel is so absorbent that it can replace the cotton dish towels normally used for drying work surfaces, utensils and dishware.

The new towel product was actually born out of PFG’s medical division, according to Mark Painley, business director, consumer products, Precision Fabrics Group. “That group was constantly being asked to provide a towel that was able to replace the ‘huck’ towels used in operating rooms and which were being imported from China almost 100% of the time,” he says. “The Chinese towels produced a huge amount of lint and that was something PFG knew how to control with our chemical finishes. We later found out that dealing with exchange rates, companies that had no quality systems and company associates that did not speak English helped to push PFG’s customers to look for an alternative.” 

After PFG identified a solution for the medical market the consumer products division took the product and modified it so it could stand up to industrial and home wash cycles.

“Our target was to replace the cotton terry towels and woven cotton towels being imported from Pakistan, India and China,” says Painley. “Again lint and the fact that most terry towels shrink 18-20% in a hot wash cycle gave us two ways to be better than the incumbents.”

Unlike a traditional wipe, this nonwoven laminate is designed to be washed and reused. The patent pending design gives this towel the strength and absorbency to replace woven cotton and terry towels that are up to three times heavier in weight. It is made with a very absorbent fiber exterior and a polyester core for strength. It is this construction that allows the towels to be washed with bleach on the hot water setting to remove really tough stains or with a standard wash cycle to return the towels to their original bright white color. This towel has been designed for, and proven to survive, at least 20 residential wash/dry cycles.

“Our product is not made of cotton and is lighter in weight than the terry towels but has the same or better absorbency and strength,” says Painley. “Because it’s not cotton, stains are removed from our towels with less water and chemicals.

The towel is made in the U.S. with raw materials produced in the U.S. It offers less than 1% shrinkage after five industrial wash cycles and less lint by a factor of 100, according to Painley.

“We see many opportunities with industrial laundries, companies that wash their own towels and longer term we would like to be sold at retail so the average consumer can buy them and wash them at home,” he says.

A multitalent in the kitchen

imeco, an established German manufacturer of nonwoven products with 30 years of experience, has introduced a new cleaning wipe into the market. This new nonwoven wipe called Powerclozz is ideal to use for wiping or dish washing and it is made from a mixture of viscose and PLA with a basis weight of 250 g/m2.

The Powerclozz has two strong sides—a smooth one and an abrasive one—and it removes stubborn dirt with one side and cleans smooth surfaces striation free and almost dry with the other side. With a user-friendly format of 20 x 20 cm, a huge suction power up to 1000% of the own weight and best cleaning properties, this wipe is a multitalent in the kitchen. It can clean smooth surfaces and dishes such as those made from porcelain or ceramic and also stainless steel and silver, as well as cutlery and glasses.

A further advantage is the odor-reduction property of Poweclozz. Unpleasant odors, as often noticed from commercial dishcloths, are reduced to a minimum with this new wipe. In addition the durable Powerclozz is tear-resistant, of high tensile strength and on top washable. The abrasive coating itself maintains stability even during machine washing.

But the imeco Powerclozz is not only satisfying because of its application features. The material itself has been selected because of its sustainability characteristics. The chosen basis-materials for the wipe—viscose and PLA—meet high cleaning features as well as the requirements regarding sustainability, because this nonwoven material is made from 100% natural raw materials.

As a private label manufacturer imeco develops, finishes and produces tailor-made solutions for application in the areas of cleaning—professional and household cleaning as well as car care—cosmetics and medicine. It primarily acts as a converter for individual nonwoven solutions.

In addition to Powerclozz, in the household cleaning category the company offers all-purpose and floor cloths, window cloths, wet cleaning cloths, microfiber cloths, sponge cloths, as well as wiping cloths and duster cloths.

Swiffer launches the Sweep & Trap

Acclaimed singer, songwriter, author and mom, Jewel, joined Swiffer earlier this year to unveil the new Swiffer Sweep & Trap. Swiffer, which revolutionized the home cleaning category with the Swiffer, launched the Sweep & Trap to make everyday clean-up even easier by efficiently picking up small and large particles in a single swipe with no batteries, cords or power supply required.

The Sweep & Trap technology features soft rotating beater blades designed to scoop up large particles, such as crumbs and craft remnants, into an easily removable dirt bin for quick disposal. As the larger particles are swept up, the Swiffer Sweeper dry cloth simultaneously traps and locks away fine dirt and small particles, leaving floors clean from everyday messes in a single swipe. Whether it’s cleaning up after kids’ parties or combating everyday messes, the Sweep & Trap is designed to help ensure that cleaning should never feel like a chore.

“As an artist, I love teaching my son through hands-on experiences, which often means making messes,” said Jewel at the time of the product launch.

Jewel joined Swiffer at Make Meaning, a NYC-based entertainment and event destination for kids, to launch the Sweep & Trap. The singer-songwriter premiered the new “Clean-Up Song,” presented by Swiffer, with a live performance for the children in attendance, who also enjoyed a variety of educational, edible and messy activities. After crafting, Jewel and the Swiffer clean-up crew removed leftover popcorn, cereal, crumbs and large craft particles using the new Swiffer Sweep & Trap. Jewel’s acoustic performance video and free download of the “Clean-Up Song,” presented by Swiffer, is available on the Swiffer Facebook page, www.facebook.com/swiffer.

Wet wipe leaders focus on innovation

Rockline Industries, a private-label manufacturer of consumer wet wipes and coffee filters, will open an 18,000 square foot state-of-the-art Innovation and technical center adjacent to its corporate headquarters in Sheboygan, WI.

Product development teams working at the center will focus on consumer wet wipe innovation, as well as product, packaging and test method developments, the company says. Its newly designed facility will feature laboratories equipped with microbiological and analytical chemistry capabilities, and pilot line converting equipment.

“Our immediate objective is to continue supporting customers with cutting-edge products,” says Randy Rudolph, president, Rockline Industries. “We will also be able to strengthen our technical leadership, while improving speed to market.”

The new innovation and technical center expands upon the existing research and development centers located in Arkansas and England. Rockline anticipates the facility to be open by fall 2014.

Affiliate companies, Nice-Pak Products, Inc. and PDI, Inc., leaders in developing, manufacturing and marketing wet wipe solutions, announced the opening of their new world-class Innovation Center in Montvale, NJ. This center will deliver products for healthcare, consumer and commercial markets including surface disinfection, surface cleaning, skin antisepsis, hand hygiene and personal care. 

The companies have headquarters in Orangeburg, NY and Flint, Wales, UK.

The 28,000 square foot Innovation Center is equipped with state-of-the-art lab space, and will house 60 full-time employees dedicated to the company’s research and development operations, with approximately 15 additional positions to be added over the next 18 months.

“Each year our products touch consumers 150 billion times. Not only do we make a significant difference through our sustainability initiatives but we also have the opportunity to help educate families and communities on the important role they can play in promoting the health and wellness of people and the environment,” says Robert Julius, CEO of Nice-Pak. “The new facility affords us the opportunity to continue providing superior products while supporting our commitment to the environment through the use of sustainable materials and packaging.”

Nice-Pak, founded in 1957, is a global leader in the design, manufacturing, marketing and distribution of premium quality branded and private label pre-moistened wipes. Headquartered in Orangeburg, NY, Nice-Pak brands include Nice ‘n Clean, Grime Boss, Sani-Hands and Wet Nap.

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