An Alternative to Lead-Laden Laundered Shop Towels

Man cleaning bearings with shop towel.

We partnered with Kimberly-Clark Professional*, a preferred supplier for HP Products, to present the content in today’s blog post.

Are your laundered towels as clean as you think they are? Probably not. In a previous post by Kimberly-Clark Professional, they shared how laundered cloth towels used in healthcare can put patients at risk for contracting an HAI. But risks associated with laundered towels extend beyond healthcare too.

In industrial settings, shop towels used for cleaning grease, grime and oil, are probably contaminated with lead. Even if your business processes don’t involve contact with lead, if you’re renting your shop towels, there’s a big chance the towels being returned to you have lead. In fact, a 2013 study shows that 100% of freshly laundered shop towels tested contain lead.

Kimberly-Clark Professional Time to Throw in the Towel Infographic

The Problem With Lead in Shop Towels

So what’s the deal with lead? Did you know lead is banned from everyday products such as paint, toys and plumbing? That’s because lead is hazardous to your health.

“OSHA warns that lead may build up in biological systems and become a significant health hazard. Lead exposure has been associated with nervous system disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and reduced fertility. Not surprisingly, 78% of manufacturing workers surveyed agreed that shop towels should be banned if they are not 100% free of lead after laundering.”

Workers are exposed to lead after they wipe tools and surfaces containing the heavy metal, and then use the towel for personal use such as wiping their face or first aid.

Bad for the Environment

Not only are the lead-laden towels bad for the workers, they are bad for the environment. From the moment they are picked up from the customer for the laundry facility, to the time they are dropped off, the shop towels are doing harm to the environment.

  • Fossil Fuels – Are used in the transportation of the towels to and from the customer to the laundry facility.
  • VOCs – Evaporate into the air, creating dangerous work environment.
  • Water – Used to wash the towels can contain residual solvents.
  • Sludge – Generated from chemical residues is usually dumped into landfills.

The Safer, More Environmentally Friendly Solution

The safer and more environmentally friendly option for cleaning up at your facility is disposable wipers. Kimberly-Clark Professional has a WYPALL* wiper for every job – from heavy-duty parts cleaning to a delicate task in the lab.

After you’ve found a WYPALL* wiper for your job and used it, it can go one of two places. Used wipers that have not come in contact with hazardous material can go directly into the landfill, while wipers that may contain hazardous material can be picked up by licensed hazardous waste specialists. All dangerous hazards are contained this way.

For the health of your workers and the environment, it’s time to throw in towel on laundered shop towels.


Kimberly-Clark Professional Solutions: The Dirt on Shop Towels

Kimberly-Clark Professional Wiper eCatalog

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Courtney Petesch

Courtney Petesch is the Marketing Specialist for HP Products, a distributor of 50,000 facility maintenance products throughout the Midwest. Courtney has over 5 years of experience managing e-commerce product content and merchandising, overseeing social media initiatives, executing email marketing campaigns and evaluating analytics.