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Can Universal Wipes Be Used on Skin?

Can Universal Wipes Be Used on Skin?

Universal wipes are general-use infection control wipes made for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and non-invasive medical devices. Each wipe's solution typically contains alcohol or quaternary ammonium to kill potentially infectious agents like bacteria and viruses.


Universal wipes are designed to be used on a wide range of different surfaces without damaging them. So, can universal wipes be used on skin? 

Wipes for Surfaces and Non-Invasive Medical Devices

Universal disinfecting wipes are made specifically for use on surfaces and medical tools and equipment that don’t enter the body or break the skin. But their gentle, broad-spectrum cleaning formula makes people wonder if they can be used on the skin. 


Technically, there’s no harm in using universal wipes to disinfect your hands every so often. But, it’s not what manufacturers like PDI recommend. PDI is one of the most prominent brands in infection control wipes, and PDI Sani-Cloth AF Universal Wipes are one of their flagship products. 


PDI universal wipes aren’t harmful to skin, but the Sani-Cloth Universal Wipes data sheet does advise that repeated use with bare hands may cause redness or irritation. It’s important to remember that this is the case for repeated use of virtually any cleaning agents on the skin, not just universal wipes. If you regularly carry out cleaning procedures with universal wipes it may help to wear disposable gloves.

Where are universal wipes safe to use? What Do Universal Wipes Contain? Are Universal Wipes Antibacterial? Find out in our blog.

Infection Control Wipes for Skin

Good quality wipes for use on the skin contain gentle detergents, disinfectants, and emollients to protect the skin barrier. This is different to most formulas used for universal wipes which may contain stronger levels of disinfectant in order to ensure good levels of decontamination on surfaces. 


Despite this, many retailers market universal wipes as being designed for use on skin as well. Be wary and always read the product safety data sheet to get a clear understanding of its use beforehand.


Here are some of the reasons skin-specific wipes should be used rather than universal wipes:


  • Skin wipes are often made to be hypoallergenic
  • Skin wipes are dermatologically tested-for-purpose
  • Skin wipes are made with softer material to be gentle on the skin
  • Skin wipes are made with moisturising agents to prevent the skin from drying out

PDI recommends the following alternatives for specific use on skin, each of which has been designed for that purpose under the Hygea body wipe brand.


  1. Hygea Hands and Face Personal Washcloths: gentle detergent cloths for general cleaning of the face, hands, and body.
  2. Hygea Hand Wipes: individually-wrapped hand sanitising wipes that kill 99.99% of germs. They can be used as an alternative to hand sanitising gel.
  3. PDI Sensitive Newborn Wipes: gentle detergent wipes made with aloe vera for the most delicate newborn skin.
  4. PDI Hygea Chlorhexidine Wash Cloths: large, antiseptic, disposable, personal washcloths to assist with bathing
  5. PDI Alcohol Prep Pads: individually-wrapped alcohol wipes for swabbing the skin prior to injection.

PDI Sani-Cloth Universal Wipes

PDI’s universal cleaning wipes are used throughout NHS healthcare facilities, care homes, labs, salons, and many other public and private businesses as part of infection control protocols. The wipes are impregnated with a quaternary ammonium solution that is capable of killing a broad spectrum of potentially infection agents, including bacteria, fungi, enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, and TB.


Using pre-dosed disinfectant wipes speeds up cleaning procedures, removes the risk of human error in mixing cleaning solutions, and helps staff carry out thorough cleaning. 


So, where are universal wipes best used? We cover it all in our blog.

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