When developing a wet wipe product, there are quite a few variables and factors to consider. For example, for a product going into the retail environment, the purpose of a product’s packaging is to attract new and potential buyers; our eyes and mind subconsciously draw us first to the product that we find to be visually enticing. For other products, you may have to consider the harshness of the environment the product will be used in, what it will be used for and how it needs to be dispensed. And even further, brand image must be considered, along with the relative environmental friendliness of different packages, cost, manufacturing equipment requirements, and many other factors. In this article, we’ll explore some of the more important factors brands and wipe manufacturers consider.
The Importance of Cleaning Wipes Packaging
The disposable wet wipe industry has experienced major growth in recent years, in part due to the global pandemic. The increase in demand can be attributed to their rise in popularity as a convenient cleaning option for both consumer and industrial use. And based on data from studies conducted on the disposable wipes market, we aren’t expecting to see the industry’s success slow down any time soon. Cleaning habits picked up during the pandemic seem to be here to stay.
The packaging style for a cleaning wipes product holds significant weight in a consumers’ purchasing decision. This is because the type of packaging used can greatly affect many aspects of the product, from convenience to longevity. Buyers form strong opinions on a wipe’s value, convenience, functionality, durability, and other factors based on its packaging.
Canisters and Flat Packs: What Are They?
We typically see two different types of packaging for wet wipes: Canisters and Flatpacks.
Canisters, also commonly referred to as buckets or tubs, are a relatively common way that wet wipes are sold. Canisters are constructed of hard plastic and typically take the shape of a cylinder. Wipes being sold in canisters often come in larger count sizes, and some companies even offer refill purchasing options for their canisters.
Flatpacks—also known as flow packs, soft packs or pillow packs—are another common way that wet wipes are packaged. This form of packaging is made from flexible plastic in varying degrees of thickness. They can be sold with a variety of counts and sizes of wipes.
When purchasing wet wipes in canisters, the wipes typically come in “doughnuts,” meaning the wipes are rolled up and connected by perforations (i.e., a row of small hole-like tears in the cloth) so that individual wipes can be easily ripped off the roll. The wipes are then fed through the dispenser at the top of the canister.
The perforations don’t always make it easy to separate a wipe from one another. We’ve all attempted removing a singular wipe from a canister before and accidentally ended up pulling out half of the tub’s wipe count! This can be a disadvantage for cheaply-made wipes in canisters.
Depending on the environment in which you will be using the wet wipes, canisters can be great for preventing cross-contamination. With the dispensers automatically pulling out the following wipe each time one is taken, there is no need to worry about germs or chemicals getting onto the other wipes or the canister itself.
In contrast to perforated wipes sold in canisters, disposable disinfectant wipes packaged in flow packs are packaged as individual cloths. First, the wipes are saturated and then folded and stacked into a pile. This packaging style makes it easier for the wipes to be dispensed individually, rather than pulling out an unnecessary amount and wasting the product.
Flow packs can be a better option for transportation and travel. If you aren’t a frequent disposable wet wipe user but want to purchase a pack for the occasional mess, flow packs often are sold in a variety of count sizes. In addition to its smaller size, a flatpack’s flexible material makes it possible to condense the pack as it’s used. You’ll never face issues with getting it to fit in your toolbox or backpack again!
One issue we see with canisters is wipes drying out. This can happen for a couple of reasons.
- Canisters can crack. Whether the tub is dropped or semi-frozen from the weather, stress poses the threat of the bucket breaking. Any fracture in the packaging will cause the wet wipes to lose their moisture, shortening the cleaning cloths’ usable lifetime.
- Canisters can hold unwanted air. Because the canister is constructed of rigid material, often the tub holds a lot of excess air—again, causing the cloths to dry out.
Similar to the issues consumers face with canisters, the thin flexible packaging in a flatpack raises concerns that it will tear easily, causing the wipes to lose moisture. More durable packaging created with thicker plastic can minimize this concern.
However, the packaging’s soft and flexible material helps eliminate unwanted air. As wipes are used, the flatpack is able to condense, preventing excess air from drying out the remaining cleaning cloths.
Flatpacks are environmentally friendlier. The package itself used much less plastic than a rigid canister. In addition, flow packs are better at maintaining a wipe’s moisture, reducing waste from having to throw out any dried-out cleaning cloths. Its flexible packaging and ability to condense also mean that it only takes up a minimal amount of space in landfills.
The Bottom Line: Canisters vs. Flatpacks for Cleaning Wipes
So, should you purchase cleaning wipes in a canister or a flatpack? At Crocodile Cloth®, we’re on team flatpack. Flatpacks (or flow packs) are an environmentally friendlier option that also keeps wipes wetter, longer. In addition, they are highly convenient for consumers and take up less space on retail shelves. Crocodile Cloth® disposable cleaning cloths are available in a range of sizes, from 10-sheet travel packs to 100-packs for home, shop or workplace. And our flatpacks are as tough as our product, made of extra-thick and durable plastic to resist tears and punctures.
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