The Dirt on Clean Laundry: The Truth About Shop Rags

Have you ever wondered why shop towels are red or blue? While they may start off white, shop towels are dyed red when they become stained. And after multiple uses, they may be re-dyed blue to cover up what’s not coming out in the wash. Although auto shops often see these products as an affordable and convenient option, several pain points exist.

While cleanup of these products seems as easy as sending them off for laundering, your shop does not receive the same towels when they’re brought back. The truth is: most shop towels are interchanged between a variety of shops and factories in different industries where they are contaminated by hazardous materials such as heavy metals, oil and grease. And when those dirty towels are washed, the contaminants mix into the wash water where they can be re-deposited into “clean” towels. These contaminants can then be transferred onto hands, and remaining metal filings can injure employees.

Is there a simple solution? Replacing overused towels with disposable wipers mitigates the risk of employee injuries due to contaminated towels. Wipers additionally provide workers in the industrial sector with a range of capabilities—from wiping and cleaning surfaces and equipment to cleaning hands and other contaminated areas. Having a fresh wiper when needed can be crucial when working in a demanding environment.

Aside from safety, environmental problems can be another pain point when it comes to shop rags. When rental rags are sent to a laundry service, they often create contaminated runoff water that cannot be disposed of with wastewater without special treatment. In recent years, there has been a push for additional regulation of wastewater providers, which could either stop the washing of rental shop towels, or make it more expensive when wastewater treatment is added to the cost of laundering.

Disposable wipers, on the other hand, are designed to meet specific task requirements and have low environmental impact. With the new EPA guidelines on wiper disposal, proper practices are even easier to follow.

So, when it comes to industrial cleaning tasks: it’s time to throw in the towel.