Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Duplicating products: Wipes & towelettes (part 1)

In the duplicating post, Will suggested we take a look at Garnier Nutritioniste Nutri-Pure Detoxifying Wet Cleansing Towelettes (oil free). Quite a few people have suggested the idea of looking at something like this, whether it's a cleansing or moisturizing towelette or a baby wipe, so let's take a few days to look at how to create something like this.

If you want to make a suggestion for a product you'd like to see duplicated, click on the link and comment! Please include an accurate ingredient list and link to the product to make my life easier. I won't consider products that don't have these two things in the comment. 

There are a few different kinds of wipes we can purchase...
  • Cleansing towelette - These tend to have some tiny bit of surfactant in them and might have an alcohol or lotion base. Some are made with gels and then the towelettes are soaked in said gel. If you have something that needs to be wetted, they are made with surfactants that are intended to be washed off your skin. Other towelettes are cleansing without being foamy. 
  • Moisturizing towelette - These tend to be impregnated with lotion. The lotion needs to be quite solid at room temperature and requires our body temperature to melt as we don't want to pull out a gooey cloth from a container. 
  • Make-up remover towelette - These can be cleansing or moisturizing towelettes, depending upon the company. 
  • Baby wipes - These tend to be very watery and contain some cleansing ingredients, mostly surfactants, and although there may be some moisturizing ingredients in there, they might be water soluble moisturizers like polyquats or water soluble oils. These don't tend to be lotion based. 
One of the main problems with creating a wipe recipe is that we need to think very carefully about three things - the preservatives, the packaging, and the fabric we use as a cloth.

Preservation is a huge issue with wipes. Wipes are highly susceptible to mould - they're cloths soaking in lotion or body washes for a long period of time in a wide mouthed container that we open and close repeatedly - so preservatives are essential! Because we're creating products with really high levels of water (85% or higher), we need something that is very water soluble that will disperse through the entire liquid portion of the product and absorb into the material used as the wipe. Parabens are pretty much right out because they are more oil soluble than water soluble (and oil soluble preservatives will adsorb to the material and not disperse). And of course, we want a broad spectrum preservative that protects from moulds, bacteria, fungi, and yeast.

Consult the preservatives table for a water soluble, broad spectrum preservative if you don't have one in mind already. Suttocide A and liquid Germall Plus are noted as being good for wipes, as are Optiphen Plus and Optiphen MIT, Rokonsol ND, PP-2, and LJ. Click here for the section of the blog on preservatives.

Packaging is another huge issue with wipes. We can't create those little sealable plastic packages with the hole at the top to remove one wipe at a time: We'll have to use a plastic box or something similar where we'll have to dip in our hand and take out a cloth, which means we could be touching other cloths (and possibly some liquid) with our messy hands, as well as exposing the entire container to the air constantly. We could use a container that has previously contained wipes and use that (after serious cleaning), but most of us won't have those things lying around the house. Most of us will end up using some kind of Tupperware or Gladware container that we have to open and close with a removable lid. This means proper preservation is more important than ever!

Click here to read more about the impact of packaging on contamination of our products.

Everything you might read about creating wipes or towelettes speaks at great length about the type of material used as the cloth. I keep seeing the term "non-woven substrate" or "non-woven carrier material". Microfiber is one of these materials. (The fabric used in commercial products is called spunlace, but I have no idea where to get it!) This is important because we don't want the preservatives to adsorb to the fabric and reduce their efficacy. (Adsorption means the molecules accumulate on the surface of the material instead of penetrating, which would be absorption.) You can get this stuff at your local clothing fabric store in the form of sports jersey material or even by the metre. It's the same stuff we use to clean our glasses and so on. Try to get a very thin version of this, and preferably a white or light colour as you'll want to bleach these between uses.

Okay, now that we've covered the possible problems we might face in making such a product, we can move on to a few recipes. Join me tomorrow for those!


Will said...

I'm so curious how this is going to work out! I'm going to make this for sure.

I'm DREADING the thought of going to a fabric store, though. As I understand it, this will be made using re-usable "wipes" that will be laundered. Is that correct?

Airlaid paper products (a la brawny industrial) won't work because they'll absorb, not adsorb, I get it, but was hoping for a tossable paper product.

Either way, summer and sticky things are near and this will be fun, especially as a grandfather of three, ages 2, 4 and 8.

Suggestions for what and how to incorporate an appropriate and mild fragrance (non-attractive to bees) will be appreciated, too!


Madeaj said...

What about something like Handi Wipes. They are reusable, but inexpensive enough to be throw-away if you want.

Anonymous said...

For something disposable, how about 4 x 4 nonwoven type gauze pads bought at the medical supply stores? The pediatrician suggested using those with warm water to cleanse our baby's bottom when she was a newborn. They seem pretty sturdy, perhaps can be washed?

Or recycle Huggies wipes. I've tossed them into the laundry by accident and they wash up well, just slightly fuzzy.

Hillary said...

Thanks for the post on wipes! I cloth diaper my baby, and there are a lot of products out there for using with cloth wipes. Most of them are sprays and are meant to be spritzed on the baby's bum prior to wiping with a cloth of some kind. Though I suppose you could spray it directly on the cloth. This might be a good option for face and hand wipes (although not convenient for "on the go" use or stashing in a purse or bag...)

Also, I wonder about the fabric that contains silver, sometimes you see underwear or exercise garments made of this stuff. It's supposed to be naturally anti-microbial. In conjunction with a preservative, I wonder how it well it would keep the nasties at bay??

tr3kkie9rl said...

What about keeping the solution in a spray bottle and spritzing an individual towelette for each use?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I think you could definitely spritz this every time, but I don't think that's what Will wants.

And Will - don't fear the fabric store. It's an awesome place to be! (Although, having said that, I fear it as I'm always a little broke-r when I leave the store because I always find something I simply must have!!!)

Dianne Bowler said...

Hi everyone, I'm coming in very late to this conversation but I think I found a supplier on Aliexpress for cotton tear off disposable wipes that I can saturate or leave plain. I'll let you know how it goes.

Magdalena Keating said...

Hi Susan - I've just realised that there already is a space regarding baby wipes!! So please disregard my other post if you saw it asking for baby wipe recipe :( Brain isn't working at the moment.

p.s Dianne Bowler - how did you go with the alieexpress wipes? Any luck?