You’ve most likely seen microfiber cloths by now or even used them yourself with really knowing what makes microfiber so special. In fact, if you did some cleaning with a microfiber 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 microfiber versions of those same tools? In addition to that, the number of households that clean exclusively with microfiber products are on the rise as well.
A lot of people have heard good things about microfiber, but don’t know exactly how microfiber works. After reading this article, all of your questions will be answered and you just might find yourself making the switch to microfiber like so many others have.
How Do Microfiber Cloths Work?
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 fibers 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 microfiber 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, microfiber cleaning relies on millions more fibers that grab the dirt and sweep it away much easier than cotton cloths.
The individual fibers 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 fibers 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 fibers to temporarily uncurl and loosen their hold on the dirt.
What Makes Microfiber Different From Other Cleaning Materials?
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 microfiber, 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 fibers in the same amount of space.
Traditional cleaning cloths are made of thicker fibers such as cotton or nylon, but microfiber cloths use millions of fibers that are too small to see without a microscope — hence the name. All of those little fibers make a big difference, because the entire surface area is being scrubbed by more individual fibers.
Why Are Smaller Fibers Better?
Due to their microscopic size, microfibers can attach themselves to the smallest, most microscopic dirt particles that traditional cloth fibers pass right over. Microfiber 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, microfiber cloths have a natural static cling that builds up very easily. That static charge literally sucks hair, dust, and other debris off of surfaces as you’re cleaning. This is one of the reasons why you don’t want to use most cleaning agents with microfiber cloths, because they can decrease its ability to form a static charge. An easy way to build up the static is to through your microfiber cloths in the dryer without a dryer sheet.
Although all of these things are happening on a microscopic level, the sheer amount of microfibers in one microfiber cloth scales the power dramatically. That’s why microfiber cloths work so well.