There’s a new term floating around in the industry…
Can you guess the truth about non-shedding wipes from the headline? That’s right. There is no such thing as a wipe that does not shed or that is completely free of lint.
Some of you may be frowning at your screens right now, because you’ve read citations from the ASTM and the USP saying otherwise. You may even have bought and used “non-shedding” or “lint-free” wipes recently.
There is a gap here, however, between the words people use and what those words really mean.
Shedding refers to any particle leaving the wipe, such as lint. Lint is a catch-all term for those short, fine fibers that come away from the surface of a cloth. If one uses a fabric to make a wipe, it will contain lint. Whether your wipe is made from polyester or nylon, cotton or cellulose, or even hydro-entangled polyester-cellulose, your “non-shedding” and “lint-free” wipes do have lint, therefor do shed.
One Reason for the Non-Shedding (That Isn’t Non-Shedding) Confusion
Some of the understandable confusion lies in the fact that people once genuinely thought that some wipes were completely free of lint.
When specialty wipes were developed for cleanroom use in the 1980s, they were dry tested, which involved flexing the wipes to reveal any releasable particles and fibers. To be called “lint-free,” there needed to be few if any visible fibers or particles remaining on the surface that had been wiped.
Fast-forward from the 1980s to, well, the mid-1980s. It didn’t take long for someone to develop the technique of immersing a wipe in water (or a dilute surfactant solution) and agitating it gently. The solution was then measured, or it was passed through filters that were measured. This technique, aptly enough, was dubbed wet testing.
Sure enough, significant numbers of loose fibers and particles visible during wet testing, meaning that those non-shedding wipes were not non-shedding at all.
Nobody should feel too bad about this. Science continues to progress. And even very high-quality cleanroom wipes contain removable particles and fibers I.e. lint.
Another Reason for the Confusion
Referring to wipes as lint-free and more recently, non-shedding, are catchy marketing phrases that can be used to sell wipes for various applications. Marketers of the day were reluctant to let it go and so we still have references to lint-free wipes and non-shedding wipes (the terms really go hand in hand).
Your wipes may well be great quality, but just know in the back of your mind that if they are described as lint-free, it’s a misnomer.
We produce some of the cleanest wipes on the market. To not be misleading, we refer to our highest level cleanroom wipes as virtually lint-free. Test for yourself, our selection of wipes for Class 1 cleanrooms and wipes for Class 10 cleanrooms will stand up to the best of the best.
At Blue Thunder Technologies, we are big fans of wet testing, communicating with our customers, and making sure that you know exactly what you are purchasing for your cleanroom. For high-quality cleanroom products with service from a conscientious, knowledgeable, and friendly team, give us a call at (860) 265-7995.