George Kellie (Source: Kellie Solutions)
One result of the lockdowns has been to make us even more aware of the increasing number of ways in which nonwovens are used in our homes and gardens and have become a vital part of our lives. Nonwovens have always been used for an extensive range of applications in the home, and this list is set to keep growing. We find nonwovens in almost every room in the house! Curtains, carpets, furniture, tabletop, and bedding, plus of course, the many hygiene materials helping to keep our homes clean and safe. So many other applications are growing in the background. Some examples include wall coverings and a wide range of gardening fabrics.
Personal hygiene: Diapers/feminine hygiene/adult incontinence and personal care wipes are essential parts of everyday life. In our more restricted lives, these essential items are more used in our houses than out of the home.
Another effect of being more confined to our homes has been to focus attention on cleaning. We are all becoming “house proud”. For many, cleaning has gone from being a chore to a way to make our homes look and feel more welcoming. A clean, warm, and welcoming environment certainly makes us all feel better about life at a difficult time. In the kitchen – there are a myriad of end-uses which keep expanding by the day, mainly in cleaning and washing. From fabric softener sheets through to disposable and multi-use wipes and dish cloths. Floor mops have become high tech with “spray and spin” technologies and sophisticated nonwoven blends offering solutions for the most complex tasks.
The rapid growth in wet wipes for surface and hand cleaning – so vital in these difficult times – has been an area where nonwovens have been part of the first line of defense against the virus. Wet wipe consumption – particularly for surface cleaning and disinfection – has grown at a fantastic rate during the worst period of the pandemic.
In durable end-uses the home furnishings market has recovered rapidly from the early days of the pandemic when demand plunged. Nonwovens provide a mix of features that work well as furnishing components and have helped brighten up our homes when gloom has been all around. These grades are used to provide great aesthetics, durability, comfort, light weight, not to mention vital functionality such as flame-resistance. Applications include upholstered furniture and bedding through to wall-coverings and curtains. Many of the nonwovens used in furniture have high recovery rates and these contribute to less wear of our sofas or armchairs. Nonwovens have important technical characteristics that are valuable for these end-uses. For example high tear and breaking strenght plus abrasion resistance, as well as great dimensional stability.
Another rapidly recovering sector is carpets and floorcoverings. Many of these directly use nonwovens or have nonwovens in the essential underlays.
In bedding we see a proliferation of uses including pocket spring covering, bed linen top covers, duvet coverings, quilt backings, and pillowcases.Decoration:
More time at home has reminded us that the walls and ceilings of our houses need to be freshened up. Some premium UK paint companies, for example, have recently reported sharply increased sales. But maybe we’re not as skilled as the professionals (?) and that’s where wipes that remove paint and other decoration materials are essential. During the pandemic there has been a surge in DIY home renovations and redecoration. Nonwoven wallpaper has seen an expansion in demand. These products are very stable and when used as lining papers offer a great base for painting.Dining:
Another area where nonwovens are growing more evident in the home is in the field of tabletop. This has been a sector long dominated by paper tissue products. However, more and more homeowners are appreciating the quality feel and touch of materials such as airlaids which lend a sense of occasion to home dining. When so many families have been locked down, often unable to go out and visit restaurants and hotels, this has been an inexpensive way of making family mealtimes feel and look more interesting.
More time at home means more meals, and of course more tea and coffee.Outdoors and in the garden:
Our gardens are increasingly an extension of the home living space. They have become a more Covid-safe space. Demand for outdoor furniture has surged, and nonwovens are used in many of these all-weather products e.g. for the lining of upholstery and in cushions. At the same time many of us have found gardening a great distraction and good for the spirit. Nonwovens are really useful in our gardens for weed and insect control.
Spunbonds are used in flowerbeds or used as a soil stabilizer for pathways as we have remodeled our gardens.
Kellie Solutions Ltd., Tarporley/UK