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Thursday, 03 January 2013 05:52

What is made of: wet of wet wipes

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Wet wipes as commonly known are impregnated fabrics. Scope of this post is to understand better what is this ‘Wet’ stuff and answer to some basic questions. Let's go through some ingredients we can found in the formula of wet wipes.


There are two main types of solutions found in wet wipes: aqueous or emulsion based. Both require preservatives in order to protect them from bacterial or even fungal contamination and most importantly protect the consumer. Preservatives do this by stopping micro-organisms from multiplying in a product.   

Wet wipe products that contain high alcohol content (say above 15%) can be self preserving and may not require additional preservatives. In the institutional healthcare markets is not uncommon to find products with an alcohol content of up to 70% for high level disinfection.

For cosmetic and personal care markets (i.e. for use on skin) it is a very different story: alcohol is not well accepted and consumers are looking for products to contain no controversial preservative ingredients. Choose of right preservative is a success key factor for this category.


Fragrance is made from aroma compounds added to the formulation. These compounds are made of volatile chemicals that, at standard temperature, create an odour which can be sensed by the olfactory receptors in the nose.

A fragrance can consist of multiple different oils, extracts and other compounds. They are grouped into families based on smell. A selection of top notes, middle notes and base notes are fused together to create an accord (a balance of 3-4 notes) which you are able to smell. 


Role of surfactant is to lower the surface tension of water making it easier to remove material, for example, soil from surface or skin. They also provide a cleaning effect by being able to dissolve dirt. 

Surfactants do this by forming spherical or tubular structures called micelles in water. Micelles are critical to cleaning and mildness. They help keep solid particles from separating out of a liquid.

Other roles surfactants can play are as emulsifiers enabling oil and water to mix or as a boosting foam. 


Emollients are another ingredient that can be found in Wet Wipes. Their role is to help avoiding drying the skin, not by putting moisture into the skin, but by reducing water loss through a protective film on the skin.

They are typically used to treat dry skin conditions such as eczema and are particularly important in both to reduce itching and protecting against environmental irritants.

The everyday use of soaps, shampoos and shower gels can remove your skin’s surface layer of natural oils. This can make your skin dry and can further aggravate long-term skin conditions such as eczema. 

Other Ingredients

pH adjusters - The formulation often contains a pH adjuster such as Citric Acid or Sodium Citrate. This is common in skin care wet wipe products, where you will often see ‘pH balanced’ on the packaging. The pH is set around 4.5 -5.0 which is close to that of healthy skin.

Anti-oxidants - In a formulation potentially some oils could turn rancid due to oxidation and give off an unpleasant odour. If those oils are present anti-oxidants are included like Vitamin E acetate in order to prevent oxidation from occurring.

Moisturisers - Moisturisers such as D-Panthenol can be added to a formulation to help increase the water content of the skin and keep if soft. These are typically found in skin care products such as make-up removal wipes, face wipes and hand wipes.

Read 1716 times Last modified on Monday, 01 April 2013 21:44