From removing thick, dirty, caked-on grease from machine gears to wiping a circuit board in a cleanroom, wipers, shop towels and rags are essential tools for completing a variety of work tasks. With so many choices, however, it can be overwhelming to pick the right one.
To begin, the terms “wiper,” “shop towel” and “rag” are often used interchangeably in industry, but each product has characteristics that differentiate it. These characteristics can help narrow down a wide selection of wipers, shop towels and rags to the one you need.
- Wipers: Task-specific , designed for one-time use and consistent , uniform size and quality
- Shop Towels: Most commonly supplied on a weekly or monthly basis by rental company, usually laundered and returned for reuse and uniform size
- Rags: Cut from mill-ends or recycled from clothing, wide variety of styles available and often a cost-effective alternative to wipers
Using the wrong wiper, towel or rag can be wasteful. The wrong type may spoil a surface that is being prepared for finishing, not clean the surface completely or cause other problems. Like any tool in a toolbox, having the right products for the job enhances efficiency and allows the job to be done right the first time. Answering the following three questions will match up the right product for the jobs at hand.
1. What tasks are being performed?
Knowing how wipers, towels or rags will be used is the first step in choosing the best product for the various tasks throughout a facility. Mechanics rebuilding engines and custodians washing windows have different needs. Mechanics need a wiper, shop towel or rag that can be used to remove dirt and grime, won’t tear and will stand up to solvents and degreasers. Custodians need an absorbent product that won’t leave streaks.
Wipers, shop towels and rags are used for thousands of different tasks, but those tasks can be grouped into four general categories:
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