When you need to clean something small or delicate, such as precision instruments or optics, don’t reach for a dirty microfiber cloth or lint-leaving and potentially scratchy paper towel, use a Kimwipe. Kimwipes are disposable delicate task wipers that are intended for use in laboratories and industrial settings, but they are every bit as versatile in home workshops.
“Delicate task wipers” has always sounded strange to me, but I suppose the distinction is necessary to avoid confusing Kimwipes with Kleenex tissues or ordinary tissue paper. But that’s essentially what Kimwipes are – sheets of high quality low-lint tissue paper.
Kimwipes, made by Kimberly Clark Professional, are available in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. I mainly use the smallest size Kimwipes, product code 34155, which are 1-ply 4.4 x 8.4 inch sheets. Although the sheets are somewhat small, they’re more than enough for most minor tasks. Plus, the dispenser box has an extremely small footprint, making it much more likely I’ll keep them within reach.
These wipers are relatively tight-knit and as lint-free as you could ever ask for. They won’t clean up sopping-wet messes, but they can handle small cleanups with ease. While you can use Kimwipes with optics, you have to be very light or use them wet with lens-cleaning solution to avoid scratching delicate coatings or surfaces.
A couple of years back when I learned how to polish soft metallurgical samples (e.g. solder balls for microscopy), I was taught that Kimwipes are fine to use on softer samples that have been polished with up to 1200 grit abrasives. After that, a blast of dry nitrogen works better for scratch-free drying. I don’t know whether this is one man’s practice or standard convention, but the habit stuck with me when cleaning the extremely delicate surfaces.
I have no experience with other brands’ disposable wipers, but have had no complaints with Kimwipes in the 10-years or so that I’ve been using them regularly. I typically order 1-2 boxes (280-count) at a time for ~$5 each including shipping (via Amazon).
Stuart Deutsch is a tool enthusiast, critic, and collector, and writes his passion at ToolGuyd.