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What Are Towelettes?

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  • Written By: Caitlynn Lowe
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Towelettes are small, disposable pieces of cloth or cloth-like paper typically used for health and beauty or general cleaning purposes. Most towelette products contain a cleanser or other similar product within the fibers. The majority of these products are pre-moistened, but some towelette products are dry. Individuals usually need to add water to dry towelettes in order for the product to be effective, however.

Moist towelettes, also called "wet wipes," include all moistened towelette products used for hygiene purposes. Standard use wet wipes are designed to clean dirty hands or mild scrapes and cuts, and typically come pre-soaked in water, alcohol, and soap. Baby wipes, used for cleaning sensitive baby skin, are also pre-soaked but often leave out harsh chemicals like alcohol in favor of gentler cleansers. Some manufacturers even produce pet care wet wipes designed to clean muddy paws, eyes, and ears on common household pets. Moist towelette products either come individually packaged in foil-lined envelopes, or in tight, resealable bulk packages capable of retaining the moisture of the wipe.

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Make-up remover towelettes are technically another type of moist towelette, since these products also come pre-moistened with water and a cleanser. The cleanser must be gentle, however, since make-up remover wipes clean around the eyes and other sensitive areas of the face. Facial cleanser towelettes not marked as make-up remover wipes may contain harsher chemicals, however, especially if the wipe is marked for use as an acne treatment. Towelette products containing alcohol, salicylic acid, or other harsher chemicals must be kept away from the eyes. Dry facial cleanser towelettes contain dried facial soap, and an individual must slightly dampen the cloth before using it to wash his or her face.

Other cleaning towelette products are used for purposes unrelated to hygiene. Lens cleaning towelettes, for instance, are soft, moistened wipes designed to clean glasses and goggles without scratching the lenses. Home cleaning towelette products usually come pre-moistened with a household cleaner. These wipes are often used for disinfectant purposes, but some household towelette products are used to polish metal, wood, or other surfaces.

Some towelettes have nothing to do with cleaning. Tanning wipes are individually packaged, pre-moistened cloths containing tanning lotion. Many manufacturers also add other products to these wipes, including exfoliants, moisturizers, and vitamins, to help improve the skin's health. Insect repellent wipes are another non-cleansing towelette product. These wipes, which are pre-moistened and individually packaged, are meant to act as an alternative to chemical repellents and usually contain natural, oil-based ingredients believed to ward away mosquitoes and other insects.

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