Wonder Wipes: Instant Washcloths

Instant washcloths can be an indispensable tool for IBD patients, or anyone with digestive distress. There have many other uses as well. The basic concept is a small disposable towel, hyper-compressed into a little pill shape which pops to life with a few drops of water.

Very compact in size—as small as a stack of five pennies, they are easy to stash just about anywhere. Individually-wrapped handy-wipes are another compact essential (especially when there isn’t a water source available), but instant washcloths are larger, and quite a bit more durable. They are similar to the hot steamed towels you get on international flights and at Japanese restaurants.

I carry them stashed in a few places, just to be sure I have one when the need arises. They’re a handy clean-up tool and can simply be thrown away when finished. They come in a variety of sizes and packaging options. Here’s a wrap-up of the brands I’ve tried.

The Instacloth comes on a blister pack of 8 towels. Compressed size is roughly equivalent to a pair of stacked Life Savers; expanded it is about ten inches square. Similar to some medicine and chewing gum packaging, pushing on the bubble forces the compressed towel out through the foil backing. The packs can be cut apart with scissors for easy individual portability. This is the best packaging option on the market for those who want to carry individual units. They’re also available in a bulk bag (but the towel pills in the bag are not individually wrapped). Although not labeled, the material appears to be some sort of synthetic. Shop for Instacloth on Amazon or visit their web site at www.instacloth.com

EZTowel is nearly identical to the Instacloth, both compressed and expanded, but their packaging takes a different approach. They come in a plastic tube about the size of a roll of quarters, ten per roll. They are not individually wrapped inside, so if you carry them individually and one accidentally gets wet, it will expand prematurely. Made of Rayon. Shop for EZ Towel at Amazon or visit their web site at www.eztowel.com

The Lightload Towel is different than the others. Their compressed towel is fully biodegradable and individually wrapped in plastic so you can carry single units and keep them safely clean and dry until you’re ready to use them. Their compressed size is larger than the others (about the size of three stacked poker chips), and the towel itself is larger too, at 12 inches square. They also offer a double size 12x24 inch version, plus a super-size model that starts the size of a hockey puck and turns into a 36x60 beach towel. They call it "The Worlds Only Towel That Is A Survival Tool." Shop Amazon for Lightload Towel or visit their web site at www.ultralighttowels.com.

One critical thing to keep in mind… despite the fact that these compressed towels look a lot like antacid tablets or calcium pills, do not eat them (unless you want to end up in the hospital like this poor dog).

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Tags: Coping tools

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.