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Are you using microfiber cloths as one of your cleaning tools? If not, you’re missing out! These colorful little rectangles of fabric are pure genius! There are things that you can literally clean with just a dry microfiber cloth or one that just has water on it.
But before you rush out to buy some, there are some things you need to know. All microfiber cloths are not created the same – or priced the same! And paying a fortune for one – just one – is definitely not necessary! I’m going to set you straight on that right away!
A good set of microfiber cloths (and we’re not talking an investment here) can take the place of your sponges, rags, and paper towels, for the most part.
You can toss the sponges, except for scrubbing, because they hold germs – even after you microwave them! The rags can be reserved for things like oil changes in the car and the paper towels can wait for special occasions, like when the dog gets sick on the floor. Sorry.
What’s the Big Deal?
What makes microfiber cloths so special? Well, grab something to keep you awake, because this is going to get technical. But I’ll simplify it for you.
Microfiber cloths are made from synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and other fabrics. We now have the technology to make the fibers from these fabrics super thin: less than 1/100th the width of a human hair. Mind boggling, isn’t it?
Making the fibers this tiny increases the surface area of each one and gives it a positive charge. This attracts dust and dirt, which have negative charges. This is also why your electronics – like your TV screen – get so dusty. They attract the dust, both with their positive charge and the fans that are used in them to keep them cool.
Another advantage of microfiber cloths is that they are shaped differently. A typical cotton fiber is round. If you had a microscope and could look at the end of it, it would be round like the unsharpened end of a pencil.:
But microfibers are shaped like this:
All of those little “arms” make it easier for a microfiber to get into more and smaller spaces and do a better job of cleaning. Not to mention that their positive charge is already attracting dust and dirt.
What You Need to Know Before Purchasing
Microfiber cloths are strong, lint free, highly absorbant, and durable, if you buy the right ones.
Because they’re made of synthetic materials, they won’t shrink or wrinkle, although I don’t know who cares about wrinkled cleaning cloths. Oh wait! I do know! It’s that old neighbor of mine who used to stack her snow piles so that they were all the same size and symmetrical. (Truth.)
To start with, you want to buy microfiber cloths with a decent weight to them. Anything too thin won’t last long and is not worth your money. Weight for these cloths is measured by gsm, or grams per square meter. A good quality cloth will tell you what it’s gsm is; if it doesn’t, skip it.
The higher the gsm, the softer and denser the fabric will be. Also, the higher gsm cloths are better for cleaning more delicate surfaces. (Have you seen the “miracle” cloths that remove makeup with just water? Those are high gsm microfiber cloths!)
200-350 gsm is suitable for most cleaning uses; going up to 600-700 gsm would be for delicate things, including your skin. (Grove has the softest towel I have ever used for removing makeup. My only complaint is that it’s too big. Maybe I don’t wear enough makeup! I have cut up other microfiber cloths because they were too big, and they don’t fray at all, so I could probably do the same with this. I just hate to do it. It’s too nice!)
More Buying Tips
If for some reason, the gsm isn’t listed, but the cloth still seems like a good one, there are a couple of tests that you can use. First, hold it up to the light. You shouldn’t be able to see through it.
Second, if you can find another cloth to compare it to, see if one weighs more than the other, assuming they’re the same size. The heavier one is probably your best bet. Also look for a towel or cloth that is not 100% polyester. It should be a blend of polyester and something like polyamide. Often you may see just a percentage – like you do with ground beef – 80/20 or 70/30 are both fine.
Also look for a looped appearance rather than fibers that look like they’ve been clipped. You want the loops because they work better.
I’ve done some checking on Amazon, and I think the ones by the Rag Company are really good and reasonably priced. And they have a decent color selection if that matters to you. That’s an affiliate link, by the way.
Now, about those high end microfiber cloths that have “added ingredients” in them in order to make them antibacterial. The claims are true, but just barely. Have you ever seen a commercial for a diet pill that claims to take pounds off fast? And then you see the tiny print that tells you you also need to diet and exercise? Well, these are kind of like that.
It’s true that microfibers with silver in them are more antibacterial than those without it, and it’s true that they will grow less bacteria while they hang around waiting to be washed. But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to disinfect your surfaces or be free of germs if you wait a few days before washing them. I personally don’t think that the amount of protection they offer is worth the extra cost.
Use and Care
Microfiber cloths can be used pretty much the same as any other cleaning cloth.
You can dry dust your furniture and it will pick up the dust and hold onto it rather than letting it fall to the floor. They are excellent for cleaning TV screens, as long as you are using one of the softer ones with a higher gsm to avoid scratching the screen.
I also use microfiber cloths when I dust with my favorite cleaner for dusting. That stuff smells so good!
Microfiber cloths are also great for cleaning windows. My neighbor uses a wet one (just water) and wipes down her windows, then follows with a dry one. She loves it.
Just about anything that you can think of to clean can benefit from being cleaned with microfiber. And you can use detergents with them as well. I keep a few in my bathrooms for cleaning, and the rest in the kitchen for general cleaning. It has been suggested that you use different colors for different jobs (especially the bathroom) but I have all kinds and just use them. When they’re washed, they’re clean, right?
Speaking of cleaning, be sure to use only warm water when cleaning them and dry them on low heat. High heat can melt the fibers and make them less effective to use. It’s best to wash them by themselves, although I don’t see any harm in adding in extra towels or rugs as long as you’re using the right temperature. Oh, and no bleach or fabric softener. You shouldn’t use fabric softener on your towels anyway; it cuts down on their absorbency.
Microfiber cloths do take a little bit of extra care but in the end, the time and money they save you will be worth it. The Today Show did a segment on microfiber cloths. It’s worth the read, although I don’t know that I would take all of their suggestions. I can’t see myself boiling my cleaning cloths….
If you’ve never tried a microfiber cloth before, check them out and maybe pick up one or two the next time you’re out (or ordering online). One of the tests you can do once you get them home is to test their absorbency. Put a puddle of water on the counter and place the cloth near it, but not right in it. A g ood cloth should attract the water to it. I’ve never tried that, so I don’t know.
I have to say, I never knew any of this stuff before I wrote this article. As a result, I have all kinds and ranges of microfiber cloths, from cheap ones to the ones with silver in them. And I have a couple for makeup removal. I don’t notice much of a difference between them when I’m cleaning, although I will say that the ones with the silver in them do seem to pick up and hold dust better when I’m dry dusting. I still don’t think they’re worth the money.