Microfiber FAQ's Answered
Although reusable microfiber cloths have found a large following among consumers in Europe, US consumers have been slower to come on board. We love our disposables and throw away paper towels and many people still have questions about what microfiber is and why they should bother to make the change. We count the cost of purchasing reusable microfiber cloths but forget to add up what we spend on cleaning products and paper towels over a month or year.
Have you wondered why you should bother to use Microfiber rather than cotton towels or paper towels? Have you wondered if microfiber would be worth the trouble of learning to use them and the cost of purchasing them? And how cleaning with only water could possibly get your surfaces truly clean? Let us answer those questions for you.
Isn't Soap and Water The Best Way to Clean?
In fact water IS a pretty good cleaner. Because the molecules that make up water are so varied from one another they have the ability to stick to many different types of dirt and grime to break them down and give you the chance to flush them away. Sometimes water alone can't do the job though and so adding detergents, chemicals and soaps help the water molecules more easily break apart the dirt and grease that water alone just can't handle.
As more people are becoming aware of the dangers in exposure to toxic chemicals they are looking for ways to avoid purchasing and using these expensive cleaning products that use chemicals to act as detergents and soaps. These chemicals have been shown to cause skin and allergic reactions, to disrupt our hormones and immune systems and undermine our bodies natural defenses against germs.
Another concern is the residue left behind when using chemically based cleaning products, both in the air and those flushed down the drain. These cleaning products gradually build up in the environment to cause pollution in our air and water ways. Consumers are looking for ways to keep their homes truly clean while maintaining a healthy and safe environment free of toxic chemicals. This is where microfiber cleaning cloths become so valuable.
What Makes Microfiber Different?
Microfiber cloths may look like all the towels you have been using but they work dramatically different and their cleaning results are much better. The fibers in a high quality microfiber cloth are split. This splitting makes the fibers so small you cannot actually see them, much smaller than the fibers in a cotton cloth. Cotton fibers are actually gigantic in comparison so over the same amount of surface the microfiber towel has millions more fibers.
Why do more and smaller fibers clean better? These incredibly small fibers in microfiber can attach themselves to even the smallest microscopic particles to sweep them up and hold them deep within those millions of fibers when a cotton cloth just passes over the same dirt and bacteria and leaves it behind on the surface. So with just a bit of water added to a microfiber cleaning towel to help emulsify the dirt you can see that microfiber is not dependent on detergents to clean.
How Are Microfiber Cloths Made?
Generally microfiber is made of 2 ingredients, Polyester and Polyamide, which is another name for nylon. The cloth is made by forcing these two plastic materials through a tiny pipe and heating them so they weave together.
In higher quality and cleaning textiles these fibers are then split to create millions of fibers each with spaces in between them. These millions of split fibers act like hooks and fingers to grab dirt, dust and bacteria and the spaces make them incredibly absorbent, holding 7 times their weight in water. Much of the microfiber you buy in the box stores are not split and are in fact of low quality. If the packaging doesn’t say they are split they aren’t, and if the fibers are not split then the cleaning effectiveness is lost! One way to tell if your woven microfiber is high quality is if it sticks just a bit to your hands. That is the split fibers grabbing the surface of your skin.
Does Microfiber Really Attract Dirt Like a Magnet?
In addition to the split microfibers and open spaces microfiber is effective for cleaning because during the splitting process the fibers become positively charged. Since dirt and dust are negatively charged the positive charge of the microfiber attracts it like a magnet and holds it there in the cloth. The force of the magnetism in your microfiber will hold onto the dust and dirt while you move over many dirty surfaces allowing for quick cleaning. The particles it picks up are held securely in the fibers until washed in hot water when the fibers uncurl and release them into the water to be flushed down the drain.
Do the Size of the Fibers Effect How Well a Microfiber Cloth Cleans?
In average cloths, the split fibers are about 3-5 micrometers in diameter which makes them about the same size as typical bacteria(1-5 microns) but bigger than most viruses (generally smaller than 0.5 microns) Since microfibers do not effectively remove anything smaller than they are, you can expect that an average microfiber cloth is antibacterial or antimicrobial but not necessarily antiviral.
In these average microfiber cloths the fibers are 10-50 times thinner than a human hair. A high quality microfiber has fibers that are 1/200th the size of human hair and so these very tiny fibers can pick up the very tiny bacteria much better than average microfibers and are effective for removing 99% of bacteria and at least some viruses. These are the quality of our microfiber cloths.
What is the Best Way to Use Microfiber Cloths?
The temptation when first using microfiber is to soak it with water and soap but this actually lessens their effectiveness. You should use your microfiber cloths just slightly damp and with no soap at all leaving all those millions of fibers empty and available for picking up dirt and bacteria. When you have finished wiping your surfaces flush the dirt and bacteria down the sink by rinsing your cloth thoroughly with warm running water or tossing it in the washing machine.
How Should I Wash My Microfiber Cloths?
Never use any fabric softener in the washer or dryer when washing your cloths as they gunk up the fibers. The best detergent for microfiber is a fragrance free product or simply toss 1/2 cup of vinegar into the rinse cycle once in a while to rejuvenate your cloth and remove residues. When drying them use a warm, rather than hot, cycle or hang them to dry if you like.