Swabs & Applicators 101

Swabs & Applicators 101

What are Swabs & Applicators?

If you’ve used a Q-Tip, you already know what a swab basically is. However, there are many more uses and variations of Swabs & Applicators (AKA single-use applicators). Learn about swab tips and shaft materials, and their uses.

In general a swab is:

A small piece of absorbent material attached to the end of a stick/shaft or wire, and used for cleaning a surface, applying medicine/chemicals, or collecting a sample of a substance.

Uses for Swabs

Common uses for swabs and applicators include: cleaning hard to reach areas, applying solvents/chemicals, wound cleaning, applying medicine, collecting samples.

Single-use swabs are widely used in healthcare, diagnostic, forensic, controlled environments (cleanrooms), food safety, and drug manufacturing industries.

Swab Tip Materials

Swabs tips come in many different materials. Here are some of the most common swab tip materials.

Cotton Tip Swabs

Our cotton tip swabs are made with top pharmaceutical grade spun cotton fiber. Cotton fiber swabs are absorbent, soft, low cost, and safe for many applications. If you require low-lint for your application, cotton swabs are available in low-lint options or standard.

Whether you require 3 inch cotton swabs, 6 inch cotton swabs, or double tip cotton swabs (twice the bang for your buck!) we are sure to have the cotton swab you need.

Polyester Tip Swabs

Polyester is a synthetic fiber. Polyester tip swabs are non-absorbent. Polyester swabs also contain no fatty acids or latent sugars. This is important in the collection of specimens for testing.

Polyester swabs are a good medium for cell collection, screenings, and testing. Ideal for use in microbiology, rapid test diagnostics, and industrial surface testing.

Foam Tip Swabs

Foam swabs are made of soft, non-abrasive polyurethane foam. Foam swabs are lint and residue free. They won’t leave anything behind. Foam swabs are also shred-resistant and perfect for cleaning applications.

The foam tips are thermally bonded to the shaft, so there is no glue or bonding agents in the swab that could contaminate your environment. Foam swabs are soft enough for delicate cleaning but not too soft that they bend or fold.

Rayon Tip Swabs

Rayon is a semisynthetic fiber material made from cellulose. Rayon swabs are soft, highly absorbent and ideal for applications where cotton wouldn’t be suitable.

Rayon is low-linting. Rayon swabs are widely used in specimen collection, testing, and screening.

Flocked Tip Swabs

Flocked swabs have a unique tip structure and construction. Flocked tip swabs are comprised of multi-length fibers arranged around the applicator handle. This brush-like structure assures ultra-clean tips and reliable performance.

Unlike traditional wound fiber swabs, flocked swabs have no internal core to absorb and trap collected specimens. Flocked swabs have superior collection and release characteristics which make them ideal for specimen collection and testing purposes.

The process starts with producing the swab fiber, composed of a unique porous microchannel “fiber-within-fiber” design structure. The swab fiber is then applied to tips to produce a versatile, high-performance brush-like swab without an inner fabric or core to collect specimens. Further proprietary manufacturing processes result in multi-length, “split-end” fibers that create a greater overall surface area and tension for more rapid elution and maximal sample preservation. Scientific studies have confirmed Puritan flocked swabs provide the most efficient collection and elution on the market.

Microfiber Tip Swabs

Microfiber swabs are highly resistant to normal cleaning solvents, which make them perfect for removing contaminants and excess materials.

Microfiber tip swabs are soft, non-abrasive (wont scratch delicate surfaces!), and has excellent wipe/dry characteristics lending itself to cleaning applications.

Swab Shaft Materials

Depending your application, there are different types of swab shaft materials you should use.

Wood Shaft Swabs

Economical and rigid, these shafts do the job for many applications.  The down side?  Wood is a natural material with variations in moisture content and fracturing is possible.

Wood dust from these shafts is minimal, but in areas where particulates is a problem, wood should not be used.

Paper Shaft Swabs

Non-linting and non-conductive, these clean, white shafts are good for use in controlled environments.

Semi-rigid, they will not fracture in use, but if bent will not return to the original shape.  Paper shaft swabs cannot be sterilized by autoclaving.

Polypropylene Shaft Swabs

Very clean and non-absorbent with no particulate to shed.

Can be rigid or semi-flexible and resistant to breakage.  This plastic material will stand up to many chemicals.  Autoclaving to 250 degrees F is OK.

Polystyrene Shaft Swabs

Economical plastic shafts can be hollow or solid. Also very clean and non-absorbent, non-dusting.

Depending on the composition can fracture as needed, or be flexible for use in tight spaces.  Suitable for use with IPA. More rigid than polypropylene. This material is suited for applicators with scored break points, providing a clean break.      

Aluminum Shaft Swabs

Slender and flexible but once bent will retain the angle for precise cleaning.

Clean with no particulates, but conductive.  For medical applications, slender dimension is desirable.

Additional Types of Swabs

Anti-Static & ESD Swabs

ESD swabs have anti-static properties that make them safe for working with static-sensitive components. Anti-Static & ESD-Safe Swabs are ideal for precision cleaning, sampling, validation, and more.

ESD swabs have special antistatic handles that make them ideal for use in cleanrooms and other static-sensitive environments. We offer ESD/Anti-Static swabs that are foam tipped, polyester tipped, cotton tipped, and nonwoven tipped with anti-static attributes.

Transport Swabs

There are primarily two types of transport swabs. Dry transport swabs consist of a dry swab and transport tube or cap. Media Transport Swabs are a vial of transport medium liquid and dry swab. This “wet” transport swab keeps collected specimens suspended in a liquid medium for testing.

Both Dry Transport and Media Transport Swabs are used for collection and/or transportation of a wide range of specimens (including: bacteria, viruses, microorganisms, trace evidence, DNA, and more). The transport tube/vial contains the specimen and provides safe and stable transport.

Environmental Surface Testing Swabs

Environmental Sampling and Surface Testing swabs are used for industries in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics. Surface Testing Swabs are designed for sample collection and validation of hard to reach areas. Surface testing swabs are used to test for contamination and chemicals on surfaces.

Environmental Sampling Kits consist of a polyester tipped swab and polypropylene vial for transport with broth/solution/buffer liquid.

Medical/Sterile Swabs

Sterile/Medical Swabs have a wide range of uses. Our sterile medical swabs are offered in Rayon and Cotton, available in a variety of head shapes. Handle options include wood, plastic and biodegradable paper.

Sterile Swabs are wrapped and always fresh. Ideal for medical applications such as wound care, surgery, diagnostic testing, DNA testing, Gynecological OB/GYN screening, and more.

Wood Applicators

Wood Applicators include applicator sticks, cuticle/orange sticks, and wood medical spoons. Disposable wooden applicators are often used for specimen transfer, as mixing rods, in laboratory work, and other general purpose applications.

Our wood applicators are made with straight-cut splinter-free ends. Wood Applicator Sticks come with different bevels, points, or straight edges depending on your use need. Wood applicator sticks are biodegradable and available sterile or non-sterile.

Critical Environment (Cleanroom) Swabs

You can’t use any old swab in a Cleanroom. Critical Environment Swabs are precision manufactured, ensuring the swabs eliminate contamination and provide consistent cleanliness. Critical Environment Swabs are available in materials such as cotton, microfiber, knitted polyester, and anti-static/ESD.

Cleanroom Swabs are designed for effectively cleaning small surfaces in controlled environments and other critical environment applications. Cleanroom swabs are widely used in industries such as healthcare, diagnostics, fiber optics, electronics, semiconductors, and more.

 

When it comes to swabs and applicators, there are a lot of variations to consider depending on your usage case. With so many options we know it can get a little overwhelming. But don’t worry! We’re here to help.

If you’re not sure exactly what you need, we are available to help via Phone, Chat, or Email. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions selecting the right swab for you and your application.

Disposable Apparel in Cleanrooms

Disposable Apparel in Cleanrooms

What is a Cleanroom?

A cleanroom is a controlled environment used in manufacturing, laboratories, scientific research, pharmaceutical, and other industrial applications. Cleanroom environments have controlled, low levels of environment pollutants and contaminates. The cleanliness of cleanrooms are measured by the number of particles per cubic meter in the air. An ISO 1 Cleanroom has only 12 particles per cubic meter, opposed to a typical urban environment that has 35,000,000 particles per cubic meter.

Why do Cleanrooms matter?

When constructing delicate equipment or doing specific scientific research, controlling the environment you are in is paramount to consistent and reliable results and manufacturing.

The modern cleanroom was invented by American physicist Willis Whitfield. Whitfield designed his cleanroom with a constant, highly filtered air flow to flush out impurities. Within a few years of its invention in the 1960s, Whitfield’s modern cleanroom spawned a revolution in high tech manufacturing.

Cleanrooms can be very large. Entire manufacturing facilities can be contained within a cleanroom with factory floors covering thousands of square meters. They are used extensively in semiconductor manufacturing, biotechnology, the life sciences, and other fields that are very sensitive to environmental contamination. There are also modular cleanrooms.

In the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, control of microorganisms is important, especially microorganisms likely to be deposited into the air stream from skin shedding.

How do you keep a Cleanroom clean?

Besides regular cleanroom cleaning and maintenance, once a cleanroom is established, personnel must wear special apparel when entering the cleanroom, in order to maintain its particle levels and not generate more particles.

What do you wear in a Cleanroom?

Disposable cleanroom apparel is a popular choice because you don’t have to launder the clothing, you can just toss it out and use a fresh new set, saving time and money.

Disposable Coveralls

Disposable Coveralls help provide overall protection from chemicals and particles in cleanrooms, laboratories, production environments, and more. They also greatly reduce particles generated from skin shedding and personal clothing.

Disposable Coveralls come with attached hood and boot configurations lending themselves to Cleanroom uses, offering more complete covering and protection.

Cleanroom Gloves

Wearing disposable gloves in cleanrooms are required to prevent contamination. Special Cleanroom Gloves are clean-processed and designed to meet the demands of pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech manufacturers in controlled environments, as well as professionals in lab environments. Cleanroom Gloves are designed to protect both the personnel and the products being made/handled. Wearing Cleanroom Gloves minimizes sub-micron particle contamination of the product or process from the operator’s hands.

Cleanroom Gloves serve a critical function inside a cleanroom or controlled-environment ensuring product quality and safety.

Disposable Shoe Covers & Disposable Boot Covers

Keeps floors clean and safe and prevents tracking dirt and particles into the cleanroom. Wearing shoe covers are essential to maintaining a cleanroom environment.

Cleanroom Face Masks

People are a significant source of contamination in Cleanrooms. Having the right mask for the job, can make a critical difference. Cleanroom Face Masks are used in many different industries and controlled environments, including laboratories, research facilities, aerospace, and semiconductor industries.

Cleanroom Face Masks provide comfort with excellent filtration to avoid contamination in Cleanrooms. Cleanroom Face Masks are engineered for protection against the entry of particulates into a cleanroom or other controlled environments.

Disposable Bouffants & Beard Covers

Disposable Bouffant Caps are worn on the head to provide defense against contamination from hair while remaining comfortable to wear. Bouffant Caps are light weight, strong, durable, and non-linting caps. Keeps hair out of your eyes and out of your work area. These tear resistant bouffant caps are ideal for clean rooms and other sensitive environments.

Disposable Beard Covers are necessary items to have in stock in plants, manufacturing, etc. and are often required by the FDA. After use, employees can simply throw them away. Made of lightweight polypropylene beard covers are comfortable and cool enough for employees to wear all day.

Adhesive Mats in Cleanrooms

Adhesive mats are also used in Cleanrooms. While not an apparel item, adhesive mats play a vital role. Placed on the floor at traffic entrances and exits, this adhesive film instantly captures dirt and particles from the bottom of shoes and equipment wheels, helping to keep the floors clean and maintain the clean environment.

With the right disposable apparel from head to toe, you can prevent contamination in your cleanroom and clean environments and keep your cleanroom operating at the right state, guaranteeing reliable performance for your applications or testing.

If you have questions about cleanroom disposable apparel, feel free to give us a call at 800-899-1255 or email us at info@harmonycr.com.

 

Forensic Swabs

Updated 12/1/16

No field requires as much precision as in forensic investigations. The data collected is a major factor in investigations, and how the data is collected plays a role in the accuracy of that data. DNA-Free and RNase-Free Forensic Swabs must cleanly and accurately collect samples while being certified DNA free and 100% sterile to avoid any cross contamination. Swabs are usually individually wrapped to stay fresh and to easily be transported after collection.

Forensic professionals rely on high quality swabs for clean and accurate sampling. Our collection forensic sampling swabs have been independently certified to be DNA-free at a threshold lower than any other swabs on the market today.

There are different types of DNA free forensic swabs to choose from, each with different specific focuses. Each swab features a soft, smooth, and absorbent tip. The swabs are manufactured to be medical grade and are ideal for crime scene investigations, buccal cell collection, and general specimen collection.

Foam tipped swab:

  • Large surface area for maximum cell collection
  • Ideal for swabbing the inner cheek and all buccal cell collection

Ultra Flocked Swab:

  • Unique fiber structure is designed for maximum cell yield
  • Ideal for conditions in which sample size is limited

Cotton Tipped Swab:

  • Manufactured with U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) grade cotton
  • Ideal for collection blood and buccal collection
  • A true multi-purpose forensic swab

We have a wide selection and sometimes picking out the right swab for the job can be a little challenging. If you have any questions about what swab is right for your application, please reach out to us and our product experts will be glad to help you!

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