Streamlined wiping

10th of August 2021
Streamlined wiping
Streamlined wiping

There are now cloths, wet wipes and paper products available for a vast range of applications. For example you can buy specialist products for cleaning in offices, dairies and industrial units as well as anti-static, food-safe and alcohol-free wipes. But is the market not now saturated with application-based products? And would a few wipers perform most of the tasks in question? David Gourlay at leading distributor Janitorial Express offers some insight in this exclusive piece.

Have we got to the point where the market is now saturated with wiping products to choose from? Are there any key trends within this product range? The answer to both questions is probably yes but what should we be doing about it?

Before we look into cloths and wipes, let’s take a quick look at a bigger market sector in our industry and see what’s happened with our sales patterns there. There’s no doubt that the cleaning liquid market sector is flooded with choices from numerous manufacturers offering all sorts of products in different sizes, different concentrates, fragrances etc for cleaning different surfaces etc.

Within this sector we’ve noticed two easily identifiable trends over the past year-and-a-half which can be evidenced from the sales patterns of our existing customers and also from the conversations we have when we on board new customers.

I would suggest that the trends within this sector will soon be mirrored when it comes to wipes and cloths.

Product effectiveness and price still remain the two key drivers when it comes to what to purchase but there are two other questions purchasing managers are frequently considering.
The first trend is that purchasing managers are trying to streamline their range. They don’t want to have money unnecessarily tied up in stocking dozens of products when maybe four or five will cover 90 per cent of their requirements.

Additionally, they don’t want management time wasted training staff on multiple products and the admin involved having COSHH paperwork for a multitude of products. On a lighter note we all know the lack of space clients allocate for cleaning supplies so why clutter it up with many different products?

The second trend is far stronger than the first one and continues to go from strength to strength - which is the desire to move to more eco-friendly and sustainable products. Sometimes this is driven by the cleaning contractors who genuinely want to do the right thing and sometimes it’s being forced on them by their clients who wish to move in this direction. Either way the end result is our sustainable products continue to grow in sales at the expense of petro chemical products.

Never-ending choice

It feels like there’s a never-ending variety of wipes and cloths to choose from, especially with the multitude of sanitiser wipes on the market that weren’t around a year-and-a-half ago.
With the plethora of options available surely we should be applying the same selection criteria as mentioned above.

• Does it do what it promises?
• How much does it cost?
• Is it a core product/do I really need another line?
• Is it an eco-friendly/sustainable product?

We need a product that performs well and is competitively priced, so when it comes to doing what it promises, what better than the good old microfibre cloth?

Until recently the questions we were always asked as a distributor were: “Which one is your cheapest?” and “How many in a packet?” so clearly the default position with customer enquires was quite understandably mostly about the purchase price.

Keeping in mind the trends for streamlining product ranges and being greener perhaps it’s worth speaking to your current supplier(s) and asking for some guidance on these two questions? Maybe they offer a laundry service on their cloths? If they do that could be a useful innovation.

Launder cloths

We’d all think a restaurant owner was mad if they threw away their linen table cloths every time they were dirty and bought new ones – they get them laundered so why not consider doing the same with microfibre cloths?

Aside from the cost saving, by getting the cloths laundered there is less waste so your carbon footprint is reduced and your eco credentials have also improved in the eyes of your staff and your clients.

In terms of streamlining the product offering, microfibre is as we know very versatile, so it has a multitude of uses. If the cloth you choose can be laundered that’s even better, you might get 600 -800 washes dependant of which manufacturer’s product you choose.

At present there isn’t a fully biodegradable microfibre cloth available. To our knowledge the one with the best eco credentials has a Cradle to Cradle Bronze Certificate for Material Health. This is a big step towards having the first truly sustainable offering in this marketplace.

If you are looking for cloths that are truly biodegradable then there are good options available that are not microfibre. The pricing of these products is quite reasonable now so they are worth considering if sustainability is your main driver. They don’t perform as well as microfibre cloths but they are a viable option.

What about wipes? Prior to the pandemic they had a bad press and were being blamed for blocking sewers and generally being bad for the environment. And then along came the pandemic and understandably their use has risen sharply. There’s a cost to the balance sheet and the environment by using these so maybe we should consider an alternative if we’re simply using them for sanitising as opposed to specialist tasks such as screen cleaning, graffiti removal etc.

Switch from wipes

We’ve noticed that in the past few months sales of sanitising wipes has tailed off and people are switching to using blue roll and virucidal cleaner in trigger sprays. This has been really noticeable in the education sector. Virtually every school we supply is opting for blue roll and virucidal cleaner. This is mostly because it’s cheaper than wipes but there are also two other factors.

Firstly, blue roll going in the bin will end up biodegrading whilst the wipes almost certainly won’t. Secondly, I sense they are more confident in the virucidal cleaner doing what it says on the bottle than making an educated choice of using the correct wipe given that there are so many wipes to choose from on the market.

Aside from schools, another example of this trend is gyms. One I visited recently had traditionally used wipes for cleaning pieces of equipment after use. For obvious reasons they’ve been looking at their finances recently and were keen to save money. The price of wipes had gone up and they were using more of them at a time when they could ill afford the extra cost.

The answer was that some mounted a blue roll dispenser and some virucidal cleaner purchased in a five-litre concentrated format and decanted into re-usable trigger sprays. A cost saving for the
gym and the gym manager was also very pleased to be using a more sustainable solution.

In some high-end corporate settings maybe the blue roll and trigger spray doesn’t work quite so well but the trend is for streamlining the range on a site by site basis rather than a one-size-fits-all approach across all account types.

There are sanitising wipes available that are biodegradable but they are regrettably much more expensive than the standard ones. These are in truth only really being purchased by those who place more importance on sustainability than the bottom line. Hopefully they’ll become more cost effective going forward. At the moment, for those of us who have to consider the price they’re not currently cost effective. But they do exist for those who want them.

Disinfect or not?

For surface sanitising some form of wipe or blue roll and virucidal cleaner is going to be on the core list of what every site is currently using.

If your intention is to disinfect then regardless of which product you use it’s always important to note that equipment or surfaces which are visibly dirty will require cleaning prior to disinfection. Disinfecting with a wipe, cloth or paper product should only take place on surfaces that appear visibly clean otherwise the disinfectant will be inactivated by the dirt as well as failing to penetrate through it to the target micro-organisms.

Aside from surface sanitisation there are several other types of wipe for more specialist use. Using these wipes for the specialist purpose they’re intended for is a convenient method of cleaning a surface which could be cleaned just as well with a cloth and the appropriate cleaning liquid. Some examples include: screen wipes, graffiti removal, food safe wipes, wipes for use on metal, heavy duty industrial wipes, de-rad wipes and dry wipes.

When deciding whether to purchase these wipes or use a cloth and cleaning fluid it’s a case of considering value for money, effectiveness, ease of use and the environmental impact of using
either option.

Across all the different types of wipes and cloths, traditionally the products that have always sold the best are the ones that are either the best performing product or the most cost effective.
The products that are currently benefiting from the fastest increase in popularity are the ones with the best eco-credentials.


Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited