Saving Money — Can I Re-Use My Cleaning Wipes?

It’s laudable to try to control costs and protect the environment, but re-using lint-free wipes is a false economy. In fact, it creates a network nightmare because everything becomes cross-contaminated. You can’t clean with a dirty wipe.

Let’s suppose a company provides a large, high-quality 9×9 inch (23x23cm) wipe for their techs. That wipe becomes contaminated when a connector is wiped across it. The wipe also picks up hand oils and dust. That contamination then is re-deposited on the next end-face. I have personally seen a fiber tech in a telco central office “cleaning” dozens of connectors using a disgusting, alcohol-soaked rag. I am sure if the tech had an inspection scope he would have been shocked at the damage he was inflicting on his network.

Most companies buy cheap “low modulus” cellulose wipes, held together with glues. This is another false economy. These wipes shred easily as the sharp edges of a connector rumble across the wipe. Re-using those wipes will make thing even worse for the end-face.

Wipes are cheap. What’s expensive is an angry customer. Therefore, four important tips come to mind. First, select high-quality “high modulus” lint-free wipes made without cellulose and glues. These will resist ripping, shredding and linting. Next: don’t buy large wipes; buy the smallest possible wipes so there’s no incentive to re-use them. Third: Avoid jumbo-sized bags of wipes; select wipes in proper packaging that will keep them clean until they are used. Lastly, teach your team that any wipe, once used, must be trashed.

How much is it really saving you, if you have to waste money on a repair visit?

Using a damp wipe to clean a connector
Using a damp wipe to clean a connector