Microfiber: What Is It? And, Why Is It So Effective at Removing Soil?

When I first researched microfiber for a presentation approximately 5 years ago, I performed an internet search and there were over 1 million hits. Just for fun I typed “microfiber” into Bing today and it listed 84,500,000 choices!  Wow!  And, today as then, the entries range from apparel to furniture and LOTS of cleaning applications.

In VERY simple terms, microfiber is a TINY synthetic fiber that appears “exploded” if you view under a microscope. Due to all the available surfaces, it picks up particulate matter and hangs on like the harpoon hooks work on velcro.  The illustration below is my favorite to demonstrate the difference between a microfiber and a cotton fiber moving over a surface to remove soil.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so there you go.

For many years we have used “rags” in the cleaning industry with varying degrees of effectiveness.  While a case for the “reuse” component of rags could be made, microfiber outperforms and outlasts these remnants – staggering differences.   In a study conducted by Daniels Associates, the bacteria count on restroom counter surfaces was reduced by 96% when implementing microfiber cloths and disinfectant. 

The cloths are typically expected to last from 500 to 1500 commercial wash cycles depending on the quality of the microfiber.  I don’t know about you, but, my cotton jeans certainly don’t have much oomph left after those numbers of washings!

Microfiber cloths and mops are frequently seen as components of “green” cleaning programs, and, while they are a synthetic product, they are incredibly effective at soil removal and allow us to use less chemical product to effectively clean surfaces.  Less chemical use along with non-disposable wipes are contributors to a green program.  The cloths are easily cleaned, don’t harbor bacteria and absorb 7-9 times their weight in liquid.  When the “pro’s” are weighed with the “con’s” it’s no wonder that “microfiber” together with “cleaning” account for so many of the internet search findings.