What's The Buzz About Microfiber?
- Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Sometimes an invention comes along that changes our world so profoundly that we ask ourselves, “How did I ever live life without this?” Microfiber cloths are one such invention.
These nondescript cloths work cleaning miracles and are changing the way clock watchers and environmentally conscious individuals across the world are cleaning. Naysayers beware; this cloth has impressed skeptics time and again.
Origins, Structure, and Quality
Microfiber was developed in Europe in the 1990s, and has since made its way into North American markets in a variety of forms. In addition to cleaning applications, microfiber is also used in the production of everything including basketballs, underwear, and home insulation.
Microfiber is a composite material consisting of synthetic fibers that are known both for their incredibly small size as well as their absorbency. In fact, every square inch of microfiber contains 200,000 individual synthetic strands.
Each microfiber cloth is created by splitting individual strands of the material into groups of even finer strands. This multiplication of strands increases absorbency. Amazingly, a microfiber cloth can hold seven times its own weight. The most common varieties of microfibers are made from polyesters, polyamides (nylon), or a mix of the two.
One of the many pet peeves about cleaning is the lint and residual dust left behind from traditional cleaning cloths. Because of the unique structure of the microfiber cloth, it doesn’t leave lint behind, regardless of how many times it has been washed. Another great thing about these cloths is that they have a static charge which helps to attract and hold even the smallest dust particles.
When looking for a quality microfiber cloth, choose one that looks like the weave of a terry towel as opposed to a flat cloth, since the loops unique to terry are better for capturing dirt.
The Paradigm Shift
It’s hard to believe that a simple cloth can clean better than conventional cleaning products—andwithout the chemicals—for all kinds of tasks.
When I found out about microfiber cloths, I tried them out myself to see what the fuss was all about; I was skeptical, to say the least. I tried the cloth on windows, on fingerprint-laden wood furniture, and a flat screen TV. I was absolutely amazed at the ease of cleaning and the perfect results the cloth yielded for everyday housekeeping chores.
Because of its ability to remove dirt so effectively, chemicals are not required to ‘disinfect.’ There have been many research papers exploring how cleaning with microfiber reduces cleaning time and increases the effectiveness and scope when it comes to removing bacteria, dust, and dirt. For most housekeeping jobs, microfiber and water will suffice, however specific cleaning tasks may require specialty products.
The paradigm shift comes in the form of relying less on cleaning products and more on this miracle fiber as an alternative to harmful chemicals.
What’s So Great About Microfiber?
Coughing, dizziness, and rashes from chemicals, as well as raw hands from scrubbing sponges, are a thing of the past with this power cloth, which replaces a multitude of products which are unhealthy for our micro and macro environments.
Using microfiber can reduce our environmental impact in a number of ways. We save space in our cupboards and our landfills by purchasing fewer bottles of cleaning products and harsh chemicals. As well, we are not creating chemical overflows in our septic systems, which can ravage an ecosystem. Using microfibre cloths also allows us to use fewer paper towels, which are incredibly wasteful, kill thousands of trees, and ultimately end up in landfills.
On the flip side, people wonder about the environmental impact of using microfiber cloths because they are made up of synthetic fibers, cannot be recycled, and are not biodegrade. There is also question of the impact of manufacturing processes. While these arguments are valid, eco-friendly cleaning cloths, eco-friendly paper towels, and old t-shirts don’t hold a candle to the durability of microfiber, which can be washed and used more than 500 times without losing structural integrity or affecting performance.
The choice is yours, but I can almost guarantee that once you have tried microfiber cloths, you won’t want to go back to paper towels and old t-shirts.
Techniques and Applications
The general technique for cleaning with microfiber is simple: Wet the cloth and wring out very well—you want it to be damp because too much water means you spend extra time buffing. It is critical to dampen before use since this enables the cloth to trap dirt. Clean the soiled area by applying gentle and steady pressure to the surface in a circular motion. The circular motion helps sweep away microscopic dirt and bacteria. For simple dusting, wiping in one direction will do just fine.
I prefer to work with two cloths, a wet one and a dry one, which I use for buffing after the damp cloth has done its job. Try using the cloth for detailing your car or cleaning leather furniture, wood, stainless steel, tile, walls, flat screen televisions and monitors, and glass and mirrors, as well as general kitchen and bathroom cleaning.
Take a leap of faith and give this wonderful cloth a try, it might just wipe out your old habits of cleaning with paper towels and chemicals!