To help illustrate the virtues and ills of the various wet wipes out there, we have sampled some of the most readily available brands. From our local calls-itself-a-farmers-market-but-it’s-still-just-a-supermarket we bought a “plant-based,” “hypoallergenic,” “fragrance-free” wet wipe. From a local drug store we bought a germ-killing but “gentle” antibacterial wet wipe. And from the nearest 24-hr. convenience store we got another wet wipe that there are no adjectives to help distinguish from the other two. For a control group, we dug up an old package of wet wipes left over from a Tour Divide run; sometimes the best wet wipe around is a dry wipe because it’s the only wet wipe around.
Before presenting the fruits of all our wiping, in the interest of public health and safety we wish to illustrate the method for a proper wipe, based on a rigorously developed theory of wiping. The ideal wipe will be achieved when even pressure is exerted over a wet wipe as it passes over the Estimated Area of Soilage (or EASE) with that pressure intensifying slightly over the estimated area of maximum soilage, which you should try to situate as near to mid-wipe as possible, and tapering as your wipe moves along the periphery of the EASE. Fold your wet wipe into roughly the same size and shape of your hand to avoid any loose wipe producing drag as your wipe passes over the EASE. Tapering the pressure of the wipe as you move toward and away from the estimated area of maximum soilage will prevent you from making more of a mess than you had to deal with at the start; the idea is to never extend the area of an EASE past the boundary line of its initial natural formation. Apply pressure to the wipe with your fingertips if you sense that the depth of material on the EASE warrants a hybrid raking-wiping method; fingernails can achieve an even deeper rake to your wipe but risk compromising the integrity of the wipe itself or produce alternating tracks of lines of cleanliness and soilage in the EASE.
Using proper wiping method, each of the wet wipes we sampled was tested by the most reliable judge of quality and worth, a woman. The wet wipes were rated based on the following criteria: Packability, Disposability, Moistness, Softness, Comfort (Lack of Burn), Aroma, Accessibility, Affordability. Below is a series of graphs illustrating how the wet wipes scored in these areas on a scale from 1 to 5; taken together, the scores reflect an objective determination of WWE, wet wipe excellence.
1. From the nearest 24-hr. convenience store, a generic wet wipe.