Wipes: Cleaning Up

November 22, 2005

Nonwovens are a sweeping success in every room of the house.

Sun protection is easy with SPF 30 Sunscreen Towelettes with Aloe Vera, available in a canister from Clinical Results.
Once upon a time, a multinational company got the bright idea to reduce mothers' workloads with a disposable wipe for babies, practically eliminating wash cloths from the daily washload.

We've come a long way, baby! Today, baby care, though still a big chunk of the personal care nonwovens market, is no longer the whole pie.

According to market tracker Euromonitor, the global market for disposable consumer-oriented wipes reached $4.5 billion, with double-digit growth every year since 1997. Of that amount, baby care is a solid $882 million, but household applications and personal care-at $715 million and $554 million-aren't far behind, according to Euromonitor.

"The wipes category has grown tremendously in recent years," said Susan Stansbury, a Green Bay, WI-based consultant formerly with Arketype, Inc. "Not only has there been general growth of traditional wipes like baby wipes, but there is an explosion in both skin cleansing and household cleaning wipes."

Convenience is key to this phenomenon, according to Ms. Stansbury. "Wipes are often pre-moistened with cleansers and numerous formulations," she said. "Cosmetic wipes have emerged to make makeup removal, cleansing and treatments easy for consumers."

Household wipes, too, are cleaning up in sales, and these have evolved in their own right, according to Kent Lynde of Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, OH.

"The face of wipes is changing," he said. "When first launched, (wipes applications) were rather basic and broad, such as countertop wipes. Now that the market is getting more saturated, more users are converting to the new-age cleaning habit."

In addition, "the specialty wipes segment-such as car care and furniture care-is addressing some big unmet needs, which in turn is bringing more users into the category," Mr. Lynde said.

A Personal Touch
Wipes may have started out on babies' bottoms, but they have moved steadily onward and upward to include the entire family. Personal care is a wipes category that has really taken off, according to industry executives.

Since the wipes market began with babies, it is fitting that 3M released Huggies No Soap Disposable wash cloths this year. They are activated simply by the bath water and are thick, soft and gentle on little ones' skin, according to P&G executives. Huggies No Soap Disposable wash cloths contain Huggies Natural Care Baby wash right in the cloth.

Olay Daily Facials and Total Effects wipes deliver cleansing and care in one step.
Pond's, which opened the lid on nonwoven adult skin care products with Bioré pore strips, has expanded the segment in a big way. Today, the company offers cleansing towelettes for a variety of applications.

Pond's Cleansing and Make-Up Remover towelettes gently wipe away dirt and makeup to leave skin soft, clean and healthy-looking in one step, according to Cheseborough-Pond's executives. A wipe was added to the Dramatic Results line as well; Dramatic Results Age Defying Clean-sing towelettes contain alpha hydroxy acid, retinol and vitamin C.

Most recently, the company launched Pond's Exfoliating Cleansing towelettes, a pre-moistened wipe with cucumber extract for gentle, everyday exfoliation. The towelettes are formulated with microbeads and renew and refresh the skin with every use, executives said.

Olay launched its own wet cloth for facial cleaning and caring in August. Olay Daily Facials Express is a 10-second facial that locks dirt into the cloth and lifts it away from the skin, leaving the skin soft and clean, executives at Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, said. Olay Daily Facials Express is offered in two formulas: a sensitive version and one for all skin types. Thirty cloth packets retail for $4.99 and went on-shelf in August.

Eventone Brightening wipes by E.T. Browne & Drug Co. go a step further than cleansing or even moisturizing, according to Rebecca Brown, director of marketing. The pre-moistened cloths are designed to brighten the skin while minimizing dark spots and evening out skin tone. They contain glycolic acid, licorice extract, kojic acid and aloe vera and are an excellent choice for ethnic, dark or uneven-toned skin, according to E.T. Browne executives.

"As already strong believers in the skin brightening category, a skin brightening wipe seemed like the next logical step," explained Ms. Brown. "Palmer's Skin Success Eventone Brightening facial wipes offer the immediate benefit of brighter skin in a wipe delivery system."

Another new idea is incorporating UV protective ingredients into a wipe. Contract manufacturer Clinical Re-sults, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL, recently introduced SPF wipes with an added feature: convenience.

Clinical Results' SPF 30 Sunscreen Towelettes with Aloe Vera are available in a handy, multi-pack canister. New technology traps the active SPF ingredients into the towelette, making application and spreading easy while preventing the towelette from drying out, according to company executives.

"Everyone should use sunscreens, but traditional lotions are messy and a hassle," insisted David Pollock, president, Clinical Results. "We wanted to simplify the process."

Each multi-pack canister contains 25 towelettes. Each application dries clear and without fragrance. They can be used on all parts of the body, including the face, executives added.

A Household Word
In addition to personal care, wipes can now be found all around the house: the kitchen, the bathroom, the living room and even the garage.

Clorox has been busy this year with the introduction of Clorox Disinfecting wipes in travel pack sizes, a kitchen version and a new scent. Clorox also introduced Bathroom wipes with Teflon Surface Protector, as well as Armor All Protectant wipes.

Wipes offer "convenience, convenience, convenience," according to Vicki Friedman, manager of communications, The Clorox Company. "Simply wipe and toss-it's that easy."

Palmer's Skin Success Eventone Brightening facial wipes help solve uneven skin problems with a convenient-application wipe.
Ms. Friedman said that wipes are a quick and simple cleaning device, leaving the consumer with less time cleaning and more time with the family. "Consumers are increasingly starved for time. Wipe-type products are simple to use.the extra time saved can then be spent with family, working, exercising (and other pursuits)."

Executives at P&G also said with today's rushed lifestyle, less time spent cleaning is a huge plus for consumers. "Cleaning is a dull, thankless chore," said Kent Lynde of P&G. "Anything that can truly help, will get the consumer's attention."

P&G introduced Dawn Wash & Toss to accommodate this need for quick yet reliable cleaning. Dawn Wash & Toss is a disposable dish pad containing the grease-cleaning power of Dawn dishwashing liquid, P&G executives said. The pad has two sides-a scrubbing side and a soft side-and is "all you need for a load of dishes," a P&G spokesperson said. A 20-count box retails for $3.49.

"One of the biggest trends contributing to the continued growth (of household cleaning nonwovens) is the burgeoning concern over anti-bacterial control in the home," pointed out Mr. Lynde. "Wipes offer the consumer the ability to wipe up 'germy' messes, and those germs then get removed from the home, instead of germy/smelly rags sitting about."

Another new addition to the household nonwovens category are Scotch-Brite Disinfecting Scrubby wipes from 3M Company. These wipes are thick, strong and sturdy enough to scrub and disinfect in one easy step, according to 3M executives. The high-strength spunlace nonwoven material is three times stronger than an ordinary paper towel, 3M added. The patent-pending wipes are said to kill 99.9% of common household bacteria found on hard surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms.

Look, Ma-No Hands
To make cleaning easier still, many nonwovens come with their own application devices, eliminating the possibility of consumers getting cleaning fluids or dirt on their hands.

These devices offer another coup for marketers-if a wipe requires a plastic device for application, the total price will obviously be higher than for a wipe alone. Also, such applicators will need to be re-placed every so often due to breakage or poor handling on the part of the consumer.

P&G's Swiffer, first on the floor cleaning and dusting scene several years ago with a dry, disposable pad connected to a lightweight handle and base, now offers a host of nonwoven cleaning methods to choose from.

Naturally, the competition has closely followed P&G's activities. However, P&G insists its products are unique. Also, household cleaning pads differ from personal care wipes. "(Swiffer and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser are) are a melanine foam-definitely not a wipe," pointed out Mr. Lynde of the company.

"'Disposable substrates' is a better term to use than 'wipes,' in my opinion. Wipes, in our world, are the very basic mono-layer premoistened substrates used for simple tasks. We see all of the Swiffer product lineup and its competitors as much more than wipes."

New in the Swiffer line is the Swiffer Sweep+Vac. Household chores no longer need to include bending or a dustpan, P&G executives insist. The Swiffer Sweep+Vac is a rechargeable upright vacuum cleaner with a Swiffer cloth to pick up larger particles-such as cereal or kitty litter-from wood, marble, stone, vinyl, linoleum and ceramic floors.

The Sweep+Vac retails for about $29.99. This initial purchase price includes the rechargable vacuum, a battery charger and four disposable dry sweeping cloths. Refills of the cloths can then be purchased as needed.

Making time for quality time: marketers say family time is listed as one of the top reasons consumers wish to shorten household chores. Wipes are making some old-fashioned cleaning methods obsolete, they insist.
"The new Swiffer Sweep+Vac eliminates the arduous work brought on by bending and sweeping, and should enable young and old alike a new, more efficient way to clean," said Kristine Decker, Swiffer brand manager.

P&G is also polishing up its original Swiffer dry floor pads line with Swiffer Dry Sweeping cloths. The cloths use electrostatic action and Lift & Lock pockets to trap particles. The cloths are textured with deep V-shaped ridges to pick up more dirt, dust, hair and crumbs than ever before, according to P&G executives.

"The new Swiffer Dry Sweeping cloths are also good for hand-dusting," pointed out a P&G spokesperson. "When you're finished, you just throw the cloths and all that dirt away." They come in 16- and 32-count packs and retail for $3.99 and $7.29, respectively.

Nonwovens marketers are also taking advantage of another new trend: cleanser application and wiping in one product. Clorox has taken this idea to a new level of sanitation with the Clorox Toilet wand. Rather than having to replace a wet, germy brush in its holder after cleaning, the user simply ejects the disposable "brush" on the end and flushes it away.

SC Johnson also offers an ultra-sanitary application device and substrate for toilet cleaning. The Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh brush is a contestant for this year's Visionary award (see sidebar, p. 72). The key feature of the Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh brush is the flushable, septic-safe cleaning pad containing Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. The nonwoven material is strong and durable enough to thoroughly clean the toilet, SC Johnson executives insisted.

New Horizons
Although the I&I market would seem to be the next prime candidate for growth in this category, regulatory roadblocks are holding growth at bay.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees disposal of any cleaning product or substrate that could contain hazardous components. Due to shifting or unclear regulations, many shops and other industrial institutions currently forego disposable wipes in favor of rental shop towels, which are washed and returned to the facility for a fee. However, once EPA establishes a permanent and clear Federal framework for the handling and disposal of industrial wipes and the solvents applied to them, I&I could become the next big segment in nonwovens, according to industry experts contacted by Happi.

"The industrial laundry rhetoric is that laundered shop towels are environmentally friendlier than non-laundered wipes, which simply isn't supported by the facts," insisted Robert Peterson, business manager, new business development for DuPont Nonwovens, Wilmington, DE. "The soil on the laundered wipes ends up in the landfills via launderers' sludge. If it isn't captured in sludge, it can be released into public rivers and streams."

Despite this hurdle, may industry experts believe that once the dust settles, I&I could be the wave of the nonwovens future. "There is definite growth in the industrial wipes market, with projections in the 4-6% range annually through 2008," pointed out Paul Farren, vice president and general manager of nonwovens for Georgia-Pacific. "Although no overnight changes are expected, if the rules are modified, any change would present an enormous opportunity."

While nonwovens manufacturers deal with EPA on the I&I issue, there's still room to grow in the household and personal care market for wipes. "Overall, it's hard to argue with the portability, convenience and hygienic appeal that a wipe can offer," said Ms. Brown of E.T. Browne & Drug. "As far as the future is concerned, the sky is the limit."