Light, medium, or heavy?

Different wipers for different jobs

Making the switch to disposable wipers can seem like a headache with so many different types to choose from, but there’s one key to success that can make it feel like a breeze: understanding how to pick the right wiper.

Light Duty Wipers

Cloths are bulky, and they can make it near-impossible to clean tight spaces, like bomber sights. That’s right. During World War II, airmen began using barbershop neck strips to clean the sights on combat aircraft, allowing them to aim with more precise clarity. This is the first known instance of paper replacing cloth, and the practice continued to gain steam throughout the 20th century.

Today, light duty wipers remain a solid, economical choice for quick cleaning. Their thinness makes them perfect for light solvents and lubes, utility trucks, grocery store stands, mirrors, and glass. Tougher jobs, however, require a tougher wiper.

Medium Duty Wipers

Cleaning with disposable paper clearly had benefits, but it also presented a problem: liquid is a natural enemy of paper. Engineers started working on ways to make paper wipers strong enough to use with liquid, first creating a nylon netting called scrim. As technology progressed, medium duty wipers began to feature a glue or binder to reinforce them against water, making them stronger and increasing their range of potential uses.

These absorbent wipers are strong enough to clean up grease and grime, but mild enough for personal use and healthcare settings. Other advantages to medium duty wipers include

  • Safety – there are no dangerous contaminants, such as those commonly present in rental shop towels
  • Price – disposable wipers are extremely cost-efficient compared to cloth wipers
  • Feel – soft and bulky, medium duty wipers feel like cloth
Heavy Duty Wipers

Unlike medium duty wipers, which can dissolve in commonly-used oil solvents, heavy duty wipers are tough enough to be used with harsh chemicals because their fibers are tangled together, rather than glued, using high-pressure water jets. Heavy duty wipers have historically been quite stiff, but a new process using flax fibers can produce with a similar feel and bulk to traditional cloths.

These heavy duty wipers are the type capable of tackling the toughest jobs, standing up to chemical solvents, and absorbing oil and water, making them a great choice for replacing shop towels and rags.


Getting the job done requires the right tool, and the same applies to wipers. Making the switch to disposable wipers is an efficient, economical decision, but understanding what type of wiper your jobs require is the best place to start.

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