- Aircraft Paint Prep
- Automotive Body Repair
- Automotive Detailing
- Automotive Paint Prep
- Fiberglass/Composite Molding
- Glass & Window Cleaning
- Household Cleaning
- Janitorial Cleaning
- Manufacturing or OEM
- Marine Applications
- Mechanic Shop
- Pharmaceutical Manufacturer
- Printing Industry
- Restaurants & Bars
- Solid Surface Manufacturers
About Telesto Products LLC
Telesto Products was created to meet the growing demand for specialized industrial wiping products and industrial packaging for the small and medium sized business as well as the extreme hobbyist. For over 15 years our family-owned business has provided top-quality products to customers in wide ranging industries such as automotive, printing, aircraft manufacturing, auto body repair, fiberglass and composite molding, metal fabrication, parts packaging and janitorial, to name a few.
Our background in industrial textiles and engineering equips our team to manufacture the highest quality Wiper and Shop Towel products selectively. We continually research the newest technology to meet customers’ needs, from OEM manufacturing to serious hobbyists, and everything in between. We take pride in American-made. In fact, 95% of our products are sourced or manufactured here in the USA.
At Telesto Products, your customer experience is our top priority. Our team is committed to helping match the best wiping product for your needs at a price you can afford. All our products ship to you FREE anywhere in the lower 48 states.
Thank you for checking out our Wiper and Shop Towel comparison guide. We hope it serves as a helpful resource for your business or passion project.
- Overview & Methodology
- Applications & Exclusions
Woven Wipers: Cotton Rags
Woven Wipers: Microfiber Cloth
Nonwoven Wipers: Spunlace
Nonwoven Wipers: Hydroknit
Nonwoven Wipers: Airlay
Nonwoven Wipers: Scrim
Nonwoven Wipers: DRC (Double Re-Creped)
Shop Towels Comparison
Wiper Comparison Summary
BONUS! Wiper Packaging Review: Why Wiper Packaging Matters
Wiper Packaging Summary
For the purposes of this guide, Wipers, Wiping Cloths and Shop Towels are used interchangeably
This guide will help shop professionals and serious hobbyists determine the best Wiper and Shop Towel products to make your business, shop or garage more efficient. We evaluate seven readily available Wiper types on the market based on seven key criteria, six related to the performance and then cost.
The guide examines two categories of Wipers by analyzing two woven and five nonwoven options
Based on industry research and experience each Wiper type is rated using seven criteria:
- Absorbency Rate
- Dry Strength
- Wet Strength & Solvent Resistance
- Pliability (Softness)
- Lint Levels
- Storage Space Required
- Cost Per Piece
How to Choose the Best Wipers
As you consider purchasing Wiping Cloths, Wipers, or Shop Towels for your needs, this guide will help you answer three simple questions:
- What are the main applications for your Wiper use? (See below)
- Which Wiper options perform best for your criteria?
- What are the top Price-to-Performance Wiper(s) for your application(s)?
The main Wiper or Shop Towel uses covered in the guide include
- Absorbing water, solvents, cleaning solutions or oils.
- Cleaning & wiping glass, equipment, metal, machinery, tools, etc
- Wiping off manufactured parts to prepare for shipment, sale or use.
- Wiping off the human body to remove dirt, oil, grime, sweat, etc.
Rental Shop TowelsWe are eliminating Rental Shop Towels for several reasons. One is because most rental Shop Towel companies require a signed contract with less than transparent pricing structures which can result in higher costs over time. Although these towels are washed, delivered, picked up and rewashed, we hear customer complaints about cross contamination of metal chards, oil, or grime that may not be completely eliminated during washing; therefore, causing issues in production. Rental Towels do tend to cost more and better options are available at lower prices, so for this article we will not consider them a viable solution to your wiping needs.
Paper TowelsCommon Paper Towels are adequate for conventional household wiping, such as drying hands, dusting, and cleaning up lite spills. Paper Towels lack wet strength. Their performance does not meet the higher standard of industrial and serious hobbyist applications which is the purpose of this guide.
Cloth Rags are the age-old way to address many wiping and soak-up needs of the hobbyist or shop professional.
In today’s Wiper industry, most Woven Rags are made from recycled clothing. Reclaimed clothing is cut into standard-size pieces and press packed into boxes sold by the pound. On average, 12” x 12” Cloth Rags equal seven pieces to a pound.
Rags are “graded” into categories based on fabric effectiveness in the four application uses outlined above. Cotton Knits typically form the highest-grade Cloth Rag materials with cotton-synthetic blends forming a lower grade of rags.
- Top applications for shop or industrial Rag use include scrubbing highly abrasive surfaces, like concrete, or for thermal protection of employees’ hands, such as picking up hot parts.
- Woven Cloth Rags outperform Nonwoven Wipers in strength and durability, even Spunlace and Hydroknit options.
- Rags contain higher lint levels and are prone to contamination. These issues are not ideal for high-performance applications like automotive paint prep, the printing industry & composite manufacturing which require no residues left on surfaces.
- Rags require more storage space.
- Because Rags are sold pre-boxed by the pound, there is a risk of receiving an inferior, lower performing grade of rags mixed with the higher grades.
- Cloth Rags will cost more unless you or your company commits the time and resources to wash and reuse them several times.
Microfiber-type cloth was initially developed in the late 1950s to pick up dust particles. Today, combinations of polyester and nylon fibers are chosen for specific characteristics, like water repellence, softness and durability. In high-quality microfiber fabrics for cleaning applications, the fiber ends are split, providing a soft plush feel that more effectively grabs dust and some oils.
The most common types of Microfiber Cleaning Cloths are made mostly of 100% polyester and have become popular for household cleaning and car detail applications.
- Microfiber fabric is lightweight, soft and durable. Its ability to pick up dust particles makes it attractive for home or industrial cleaning and auto detailing.
- If kept clean, microfiber cloths are very soft and do not scratch most surfaces.
- Microfiber cloths trap liquids and redeposit liquids but do not actually absorb liquids into the fibers. This attribute can be a pro or a con depending on the industry.
- Compared to other Nonwoven options, polyester microfiber is somewhat water repellent and may not be absorbent enough for all uses. Microfiber cloths carry liquid and deposit the liquid on surfaces but they do not actually absorb liquid into the fibers.
- Microfiber accumulates debris and particles over time, making it unsuitable for some delicate cleaning applications. A Microfiber Cloth that has picked up grit or other abrasive particles during use can easily damage sensitive surfaces, like automotive paintwork.
- Microfiber cloths will cost more depending on your willingness to rewash them.
- Microfiber cloths tend to cling and snag on user’s fingers.
Compared to Microfiber Cloths, Nonwoven Spunlace Wipers offer good wet and dry strength at a relatively low cost. Spunlace absorbs well, is soft and has essentially no lint.
Nonwoven fabric is manufactured by bonding short and long fibers together using chemicals, mechanical or thermal energy. Spunlace Wipers are high-performance nonwoven Shop Towels specifically manufactured for durability, strength, absorbency with low to no lint.
Over 40 years ago, DuPont was the first to commercialize the “Spunlace” nonwoven products using hydroentangling technology. High-powered water jets mechanically entangle fibers to produce fabrics with strong wet/dry characteristics that feel and function similar to a cloth rag.
Today, spunlace fabric is manufactured overseas by various Asian and European companies and produced in the USA by purchasers of the DuPont technology.
- For professional or hobbyist use, Spunlace nonwoven Wipers are the elite choice if you need an extremely low lint product with significant wet and dry strength.
- Spunlace products Made in the USA are essentially lint-free. The fibers hold integrity through hydroentangling technology instead of using latex binders, or glues.
- Spunlace Wipers are solvent resistant and used extensively in high-performance applications like automotive, paint prep, manufacturing, printing, and other surface prep industrial uses.
- Spunlace is softer and more pliable than Hydroknit. Spunlace Wipers feel more like a woven cloth than a paper towel and are available in an even softer “Creped Spunlace.”
- Disposing of Spunlace Wipers when dirty is very cost effective compared to rags and microfiber cloth, at the same time high-quality Spunlace Wipers can be rinsed and reused before disposal if desired.
- Some overseas Spunlace products contain glues and latex binder additives.This manufacturing process reduces the price of Wipers, but compromises job performance results by potentially depositing residues or containments on surfaces. For chemical-free Spunlace products, check if they’re manufactured in the USA.
- Spunlace nonwoven Wipers are not as strong or as heat resistant as cotton rags.
- Spunlace Wipers cost more than Scrim, DRC or Airlay nonwovens. You trade-off wet and dry strength with lower priced Scrim and Airlay products.
We only cover Spunlace products made of woodpulp (paper fibers) and polyester.
Hydroknit Material offers a clean, absorbent, and durable alternative to paper towels or rags. Hydroknit Disposable Wipes are a good choice for janitorial or home cleaning, wiping down parts or equipment, and printer or food service cleaning.
Hydroknit Wipers are made primarily from Polypropylene and paper, with the Wipers held together through heat bonding, hydroentanglement, and binders (glues).
- Hydroknit Wipers offer a good balance of strength, durability, cost and convenience.
- A wide selection of Hydroknit Wipers is available for light-duty, economy hobbyist use to heavy-duty, commercial applications.
- Hydroknit Wipers are strong and durable. In performance tests, X80 and X9 Wipers measured close to the wet and dry strength of woven cloth.
- Per piece, Hydroknit Wipers are at a lower cost point than rags, especially in single-use shop environments.
- The higher strength Hydroknit Wipers are less pliable than Spunlace products and contain more lint. Their stiffness limits reaching into tight spaces where a soft foldable fabric is needed
- Hydroknit nonwoven Wipers are not as heat resistant as cotton rags.
- Hydroknit Wipers cost more than Scrim, DRC, or Airlay nonwovens. You trade-off wet and dry strength with lower-priced Scrim and Airlay products.
Editor’s Note:The Hydroknit products analyzed in this guide represent the higher-end Kimberly Clark Wypall brand or similar products, particularly Wypall X80 and X90 Wipers.
Airlay or Airlaid is a textile-like material typically made of 85% cellulose paper “fluff pulp” and 15% binder. Compared with traditional paper towels, air-laid paper is bulky, soft, and very absorbent.
Airlaid nonwoven Wipes are used in many home, industrial, and institutional applications such as disposable household cleaning wipes, hand wipes, and baby wipe products. Disposable restaurant napkins are often made from Airlaid nonwovens.
- Airlaid products have high absorbency properties and stay fairly strong even when wet (verses paper towels). They’re particularly effective for light-duty spills and light duty equipment cleaning.
- Due to the high binder content, Airlaid products are low linting compared to paper towels and some DRC products.
- Airlaid paper is easily disposable and offers the advantage of being biodegradable.
- As a Wiper, Airlaid nonwovens are also economical verses Spunlace or Hydroknit nonwovens. This lower cost comes at a sacrifice for wet and dry strength.
- Compared to many Wiper and Shop Towel technologies, Airlaid represents a small share of nonwovens. Manufacturing capacity may limit supply.
- Low wet and dry strength is a problem for Shop Towel use. Airlaid nonwovens for shop use are basically a strong paper towel. They are not suitable for scrubbing, polishing or heavy-duty usage.
For light-duty applications, DRC Wipers can deliver a more economical, softer and absorbent Shop Towel option compared to Airlay nonwoven wipes.
Scrim Wipers are constructed with layers of cellulose (tissue papers) reinforced by nylon or polyester Scrim netting sandwiched in between. Scrim quality can vary from 2- to 4-ply.
Scrim Wipers can be used in both dry and wet applications, but generally have a low to medium wet and dry strength. Binders are often added to provide improved durability.
Overall, scrim materials make for good all-purpose light to medium duty Wiper. They work well when performance expectations are average or the dirt and grime level is low.
- Scrim Wipers will not scratch most delicate surfaces.
- Scrim works well to reduce streaking, making them ideal for glass, mirrors, stainless steel and other smooth surface cleaning.
- Attractively priced on a per piece basis, Scrim Wipers are an economical option in applications where lint residue is a concern.
- Scrim Wipers perform more like a strong paper towel than a woven cloth. They do not hold up to grease or solvents. They do not work well for polishing or scrubbing.
- Note the number of plies when purchasing Scrim products which can directly impact quality and performance.
- Scrim products have been around a long time and other nonwovens such as DRC and Airlaid are replacing Scrim over time.
Newer, more technically advanced nonwovens like Hydroknit and Spunlace offer superior performance and significantly more durability for a slightly higher price. Depending upon the volume of your wiping applications (number of Wipers used per job), the total cost of Spunlace nonwovens could be actually less expensive.
DRC (Double Re-Creped)
DRC stands for Double Re-creped. DRC Wipers are made from woodpulp (cellulose) impregnated with a bonding adhesive to produce a high-bulk Wiper with excellent absorbency, strength and durability compared to Scrim and Airlaid nonwovens.
Because of their cloth-like absorbency and versatility, DRC products are one of the more popular general-purpose Wipers on the market. They’re sold under brand names such as Scott’s Shop Rags and Rags in a Box.
- DRC nonwoven Wipers are ideal for light to medium-duty routine cleaning. They are economically priced verses rags, microfiber, Hydroknit and Spunlace nonwovens.
- If absorbency is your #1 performance criteria, DRC Wipers are the best, affordably priced product type.
- DRC materials lack high wet or dry strength. DRC Wipers do not hold up when cleaning equipment or wiping down manufactured parts, especially with solvents. They are more like a strong paper towel than a woven cloth.
- You may have to use more than one, two or three of the DRC Shop Towels for a messy application. One Spunlace or Hydroknit wipe could be a more economical choice if this is the case.
Telesto Products offers two types of DRC products for light to medium duty Shop Towel jobs. Add link
Shop Towels Comparison Chart
Here’s a quick-reference chart comparing the pros and cons of the Wipers analyzed in this guide. Wipers are rated based on industry research and experience using these seven criteria:
- Absorbency Rate More absorbent to less
- Dry Strength More strength to less
- Wet Strength More strength to less
- Pliability (Softness) More cloth-like to less/more stiff
- Lint Levels Lowest lint to highest
- Storage Space RequiredLeast space to highest
- Cost Per Piece*Highest Cost to lowest
We encourage you to determine the top two application priorities (see page 4), then review the Shop Towels Comparison Chart to find the Shop Towel solution(s) that best fits your uses and budget. In general, Hydroknit and Spunlace Wipers and Shop Towels compete for the higher strength, heavy duty Shop Towel market. You won’t find these products in Lowe’s or Home Depot. They have the highest wet and dry strength of all nonwovens. Hydroknit comes close to the strength of a woven cloth and Spunlace is very strong too but softer and more cloth-like with the lowest lint of any cleaning cloth you will find. If you look for made in the USA for your Spunlace Wipers, you will have a chemical free cloth as well. Spunlace and Hydroknit are what businesses use. Anyone can source these products on the internet directly. Hydroknit and Spunlace are two to three times the price per piece verses Airlay, Scrim or DRC products, but are worth it. If you need to polish, scrub or use a solvent, one Hydroknit or Spunlace Wiper does the job of 4-5 of the Scrim, Airlay or DRC products in many
cases. We think both Spunlace and Hydroknit are excellent for heavy duty use, but favor Spunlace because it is essentially lint free and soft. DRC is a great medium duty shop Wiper. It is #1 for absorbency, economical and works like a very strong paper towel. Use DRC for light to medium duty jobs as an economic alternative to Spunlace or Hydroknit. Airlaid and Scrim products have their niche, but in shop applications, DRC is preferred as a lower cost alternative for light to medium duty Shop Towels. Microfiber also has a niche. Use it if you need a soft strong rag like cloth for car detailing and dust removal. In general, rags should be used only when very heavy abrasive scrubbing is required or a heat resistant cloth is desired. Spunlace and Hydroknit are slowly replacing rags as the Shop Towel of choice for industry, construction and extreme hobbyists because they are new and clean and don’t introduce contaminates.
In the Shop Towel industry, Wiper packaging types are often referred to as “Put Ups.” Typical put ups include Bag, Case, Crushpack, Flatpack, Perforated Roll, Pop-Up Dispenser Box and Quarterfold. There are some important benefits and trade-offs to consider when choosing your Shop Towel packaging options. For high-volume shops and industrial use applications, your choice of Wiper packaging directly impacts:
- Cost — relative cost per piece
- Dispensing preference —shop-use efficiency
- Storage convenience
Pop-Up Box Shop Towels come in retail-looking packaging and dispense single Wipers similar to Kleenex®. Each Wiper is neatly folded inside the box so that selecting one wiper pops up the next wiper.
Benefits & Trade-Offs
- Pop-Up Box Shop Towels are available in a variety of materials and sizes
- The Pop-Up Box design allows easy single-use Wiper selection while protecting the stored Wipers from dust and contamination.
- Pop-Up Boxes also fit into a wall mount, if tabletop space is limited.
- You will pay a premium for the Pop-Up Box Wipers’ convenience and smaller quantity boxes versus the value-oriented Crushpack.
- Purchasing Pop-Up Box Wipers by the case can help offset the additional costsaving almost 30% by buying in bulk.
Crushpack Wipers come tightly packed cardboard dispensing box with a perforated “punch out hole” in the side. It contains a high volume of Wipers jam packed into the single Wiper dispense
Benefits & Trade-Offs
- The Crushpack offers the least expensive single Wiper dispenser method — similar cost per piece as the same-sized Flatpacked product
- The Crushpack makes it easy to select one Wiper at a time from the pop-out hole while keeping the rest clean
- A Crushpack takes up a little more storage space per Wiper than a Flatpack
Perforated rolls can be hung mounted on a dowel dispenser to save space, or simply kept on a countertop or shelf for easy access. Perforated rolls without a center core work well when inserted into a bucket dispenser, pre-soaked in your preferred liquid cleaning solution or solvent and then pulled from the center for easy dispensing.
Benefits & Trade-Offs
- Perforated rolls of Wipers are a convenient space saver —mounted within easy reach on a heavy-duty metal dowel or placed on a tabletop
- Perforated rolls cost about the same as Quarterfolded Wipers, 2-3¢ more per piece than same-sized Crushpack or Flatpack product
- Dispensing Shop Towels on a roll can lead to waste as users may not always take care to tear them at the single-use perforations
Packaged in a standard corrugated shipping/storage box or case, Flatpacked Wipers are stacked uniformly, one Wiper on top of another. They are not folded or packaged in polybags.
Benefits & Trade-Offs
- Flatpacked Wipers are the least expensive put up, typically, 2-3¢ less per piece than Quarterfolded or perforated roll Wipers
- Flatpack Wiper users must separate the top shop towel from the next Wiper, which requires a little diligence and dexterity
- Selecting multiple Wipers can lead to product waste
- Flatpacked Wipers fit more Wipers in less space than all other put ups except for the perforated roll
Quarterfolded Wipers typically ship in a standard corrugated storage box packed with a smaller quantity of sealed polybags with 10-50 wipers each.
Benefits & Trade-Offs
- The Quarterfolded Wipers’ pre-folded design facilitates easy single-use and access to tight areas for cleaning or polishing
- They are a favorite Wiper among body shops and metal paint prep
- Quarterfold Wipers typically sell at a 2-3¢ per piece premiumSmaller count Quarterfold Polybags are easily stored near a work area until ready to use, reducing exposure of Wiper contamination
When choosing your Shop Towel packaging, weigh the benefits and trade-offs — and consider your employees (if that applies to your situation). If your shop is staffed with conscientious, non-wasteful personnel, Wipers packaged in less expensive put ups like a Crush or Flatpack can work well. If associates liberally go through Wipers by the handfuls, allotting lower quantity Quarterfolded packs or Pop-Up Boxes, may help to conserve excess Wiper