Microfibre cloths are now an established part of our cleaning armoury. But do you how they remove nasty germs, why you shouldn’t use fabric conditioner when you wash them and, perhaps most importantly, what their connection is to Japanese swimwear in the 1970s?
Read our handy guide to find out everything you need to know (and some things you didn’t need to know) about microfibre cloths.
1. The chemistry, physics and biology of microfibres
Stay with us, we are going to make this as simple as we can, even though it involves quantum mechanics, molecular physics and microbiology…
The millions of tiny plastic fibres in a microfibre cloth pick up microscopic particles by an attraction called Van Der Waals force, which, if you passed your Chemistry GSCE, you will know all about.
In simple terms, the fibres attract the particles with a static electric charge, holding on to them until you wash the cloth and remove them. Those microscopic particles can include pathogens which normal cloths leave behind, so your microfibre cloth takes cleaning to a whole new, hygienic level.
2. Squeaky clean – without the cleaning chemicals
If you keep your cloths in tip-top condition, you don’t need cleaning sprays, anti-bacterial cleaners or bleach-based products to do the cleaning. The cloths pick up everything and they are far more effective than a traditional cloth used with a spray.
The key reason for this is that they hold onto the particles they collect, rather than simply moving them around. They also deal with the tiny particles that other cloths leave behind. Not only is this more hygienic but it also leaves surfaces, including glass, mirrors and tiles, shiny and smear free.
3. Handle with care…
How you care for your cloths is the single most important factor in getting them to do their job properly.
Ideally, wash them separately in warm water to break down the forces that are holding together the fibres and the dirt particles. Wash them with InnuScience Nu-Cycle eco-friendly microfibre wash, which uses biotechnology to provide full laundry power at 30°C. Don’t use fabric conditioners in the wash as they will clog up the fibres and reduce their effectiveness.
Dry them either very gently in the tumble dryer, or even better, in the open air. Strong heat will melt the fibres.
Wash and store your cloths separately to your other laundry as they will attract lint from anything they come into contact with (they are simply doing the job they were designed to do.)
4. Great things come in small packages
Ready for a few mind-blowing facts and figures? Microfibres are the superheroes of the cleaning world with hidden super powers:
- A single microfibre can be up to 100 times thinner than a human hair
- Some microfibre cloths, such as the new Vileda MicronQuick cloth can remove 99.99% of germs, without using chemicals
- A microfibre can hold on to up to 7-8 times its own weight in liquid
- A carefully looked-after woven microfibre cloth can be washed and reused up to 600 times
5. A microfibre cloth for every job
Microfibre cloths have several benefits over traditional cloths.As we have seen, they are great for surfaces that you want to keep clean and germ-free without using chemicals.
Used dry they make great dusters. Remember how they hold onto particles? Well, a traditional duster, simply moves the dust while a microfibre duster picks it up and hangs onto it.
For cleaning up spillages, they guzzle liquid and hold onto it, reducing the work and the water involved. A great advantage of microfibre mops.
For cleaning mirrors and glass, lightly wet a corner of a cloth for the first clean and then use the dry part for an amazing smear-free, lint-free shine. Some cloths are designed specifically for glass. Try the Wecoline Glass and Metal Cloth.
You can now use single use microfibre cloths, such as the Vileda MicroLite 60 cloth in commercial food prep areas, as they are HACCP compliant. The single use element means that have all the benefits and anti-bacterial qualities of a woven microfibre cloth and they offer a guarantee against cross contamination.
6. And finally, microfibre cloths and the Japanese swimsuit fail
Who invented microfibre cleaning cloths? Our favourite story is that a group of Japanese scientists, back in the mid 1970s, were trying to develop a lightweight, figure hugging swimsuit for female competitive swimmers.
They used a technology credited to Dr. Myoshi Okamoto in 1970, namely microfibres, which allowed the swimwear to cling to the body. Unfortunately, they discovered that the microfibres also absorbed water to such an extent that the swimsuits were useless for the one environment they were to be used in.
Fast forward a couple of decades and the story is taken up in Europe. Some bright sparks realised that the property which made the technology useless for swimwear was a property which could work with spectacular results in the cleaning industry. And, with some modification and smart thinking, the microfibre cloth was born.
At Bunzl CHS, we have a great choice of microfibre cloths from a range of suppliers, including Vileda Professional, Wecoline, Vikan, CleanWorks and Rubbermaid. Have you tried them yet? Have a go and let us know what you think.