You’ve most likely seen microfibre cloths by now or even used them yourself without really knowing what makes microfibre so special. In fact, if you did some cleaning with a microfibre cloth and used it in the same way you use traditional cloths, you wouldn’t have the chance to fully appreciate the difference.
Did you know that hospitals around the world are rapidly switching from cotton-based cloths and mop pads to the more efficient microfibre versions of those same tools? In addition to that, the number of households that clean exclusively with microfibre products are on the rise as well.
A lot of people have heard good things about microfibre, but don’t know exactly how microfibre works. After reading this article, all your questions will be answered and you just might find yourself making the switch to microfibre like so many others have.
Cleaning the traditional way relies heavily on chemicals, but usually just soap and water. The way it works is the molecules of the soap (or cleaning agent) attach themselves to dirt and grime to break them down and make them easier to remove. Then you wipe away the scum with your cloth and rinse if off. As you rinse the cloth, the water molecules stick to the detergent and wash it away with the dirt molecules still attached.
This is chemical cleaning 101. One of the problems is that the fibres in traditional cleaning cloths are wider and less dense so they end up leaving a lot of detergent and dirt behind. Sometimes it’s visible to the naked eye and you have to wipe the area a few times and other times you don’t see it and it stays on the surface unnoticed.
On the other hand, cleaning with a microfibre cloth doesn’t require any cleaning agents at all. So, you’re probably wondering how the dirt is removed without the detergent molecules. Rather than relying on chemicals to break down dirt, microfibre cleaning relies on millions more fibres that grab the dirt and sweep it away much easier than cotton cloths.
The individual fibres are made of polyester that has a natural static charge and actually causes much of the dirt and debris to cling to the cloth. With so many tiny fibres densely packed into one space, it’s much easier to loosen the grime of the surface and carry it away, leaving the surface free of dirt and cleaning residue.
For surfaces that are especially dirty, the only thing required is a little bit of water. That means you don't need to use any harsh cleaning chemicals that are toxic for kids and pets. Rinsing the cloth in warm water is enough to release the debris, because the heat causes the fibres to temporarily uncurl and loosen their hold on the dirt.
Let’s say you have a large garage floor that’s covered in dust. Would you rather use a typical indoor broom with loosely packed bristles or an outdoor broom that’s wider and has way more bristles tightly packed together? You’d obviously want the broom with more bristles.
That’s the same concept behind microfibre, only cleaning indoors requires a cloth that can fit in small areas. You don’t want to clean with a cloth that’s the size of a beach towel. So, in order to get more cleaning power out of a small cloth, there needs to be more fibres in the same amount of space.
Traditional cleaning cloths are made of thicker fibres such as cotton or nylon, but microfibre cloths use millions of fibres that are too small to see without a microscope — hence the name. All those little fibres make a big difference, because the entire surface area is being scrubbed by more individual fibres.
Due to their microscopic size, microfibres can attach themselves to the smallest, most microscopic dirt particles that traditional cloth fibres pass right over. Microfibre acts as an adhesive to dirt, in a way. Similar to how geckos or spiders can stick to the ceiling — they have millions of tiny hairs on their feet that grip the surface.
Also, microfibre cloths have a natural static cling that builds up very easily. That static charge literally sucks hair, dust, and other debris off surfaces as you’re cleaning. This is one of the reasons why you don’t want to use most cleaning agents with microfibre cloths, because they can decrease its ability to form a static charge. An easy way to build up the static is to through your microfibre cloths in the dryer without a dryer sheet.
Although all of these things are happening on a microscopic level, the sheer amount of microfibres in one microfibre cloth scales the power dramatically. That’s why microfibre cloths work so well.