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Green Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Microfiber for cleaning – what’s the big deal?

January 27, 2017

microfiber-cleaning-clothFor the past twenty years I’ve been sharing the incredible value of microfiber for cleaning. But there are still people who don’t know about this “miracle” for their household cleaning, and if you’re one, keep reading.  Microfiber can clean any surface with just water and leave it free from dirt, grease, smears, streaks or lint. It’s a great option when you are trying to take the toxins out of your cleaning.

What is microfiber

By definition microfiber is any thread that is smaller than 10 microns (about 1/5 the thickness of a human hair).  Microfiber that is designed for cleaning is a thread that has been split or cut with a machine so that it has numerous cleaning surfaces. That makes it very absorbent, with the capability to hold from five to seven times its own weight in liquid.

There are various grades and price points for microfiber products. Some are overpriced but overall you do get what you pay for. Seek out mid to high quality cloths – you won’t regret it. Because it’s made from polyester or a polyester blend, it offers longer lasting, higher durability, and greater efficacy than traditional cleaning cloths.


Microfiber is not just for cleaning. Originally, microfiber was manufactured by the Japanese for swimsuit material. Microfiber clings well to the body so the swimsuits looked great. But it was found to be very absorbent and not a good choice for swimwear.


Scientists in Sweden took the absorbent fabric and started manufacturing microfiber cloths for commercial use. Starting in the early 1990’s, Europeans started marketing microfiber as a new way to clean.


There are now many other uses for microfiber other than cleaning. Car detailers have been using microfiber cloths for years because of their lint-free properties. Furniture manufacturers use the fabric because it can be cleaned with just a damp cloth. Even the NBA uses microfiber basketballs designed by Spalding, because it doesn’t need the break in period that a leather basketball needs.

Disinfecting properties

Independent studies have found that microfiber does an excellent job of disinfection without the need for chemicals. This is very important if you have children, pets, elderly family members or those with asthma/allergy problems or compromised immune systems living at home because these groups are particularly vulnerable to the many ingredients in traditional cleaning products containing toxins.

Microfiber disinfects by going underneath the bacteria and lifting it off the surface. All those teeny tiny cleaning surfaces hold onto the bacteria until you place it into the wash. The combination of hot water and laundry soap releases the bacteria into the water so it can be washed away with the waste water.

With microfiber you don’t need to use harsh chemicals to make a surface free from bacteria.  So it’s a totally opposite technique to our current ways of disinfecting, which includes lots of chemicals and a two-step (clean first, then disinfect) process.

There’s really no reason not to look at microfiber for cleaning – it cleans better, faster and with fewer chemicals plus it last longer than other options.


How to use

Microfiber is so easy to use. Just wet the cloth with water, wring it out really well and start wiping dirty or germy surfaces. Then, for perfection on a particular surface, dry the area with a dry microfiber cloth. This combination will leave the surface immaculate.  To get the most out of each cloth during cleaning, fold each cloth in half and then fold it in half again. This gives you eight cleaning surfaces to use. After wiping an area, switch to another clean area of the cloth so you are using a clean side each time.

To prevent cross contamination on germy surfaces, use a color-coded system. For example, the pros at Maid Brigade use only red cloths in the bathroom (think, “code red”), only yellow in the kitchen (think, “yellow”), blue for mirrors and glass (most have a blue hue) and green for dusting and general cleaning (G = general). This method eliminates the chance that germs will be spread from room to room.


How to care for microfiber

High quality microfiber can be washed with hot water and laundry SOAP (detergent builds up on fabric and will leave a film in the cloth).  High quality microfiber cloths can be dried in the dryer on warm heat. Dryers tend to melt the threads of the lower-grade fabrics, fusing all those microscopic cleaning surfaces together, making the cloth no more effective than a regular rag. If you’re not sure of the quality of your microfiber, just let the cloth air dry. Never use dryer sheets as the oil in the sheets will accumulate in the threads of the fabric and compromise its cleaning ability. You also want to wash your microfiber cloths separately, because lint and other fibers will get trapped in those cleaning surfaces, clogging them and ruining their performance.

For more about microfiber, click here.

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