Microfiber cleaning cloths work like magic. At least, that is the story marketing tells. However, that is just Part of the Story. Knowing the Rest of the Story is essential to better cleaning. Below are examples of both Part of the Story and the Rest of the Story, as it relates to microfiber cleaning cloths.
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths Tip #1
Part of the Story: Microfiber cloths capture and hold more soil because of the architecture of the fiber, providing better aesthetic and hygienic results more quickly than cotton cloths.
The Rest of the Story: True, but its removal and ‘holding’ capacity is deceptive as research shows using a microfiber wipe across multiple surfaces creates a significant amount of cross-contamination, even when the surface appears clean. In June 2011, The Journal of Hospital Infection (www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-hospital-infection) reported, "The performance of all [microfiber] cloths decreased with repeated use on a succession of contaminated surfaces." (Journal of Hospital Infection, June 2011)
Independent lab testing shows a microfiber flat mop loses 55% of its cleaning effectiveness after cleaning 32 square feet–half the size of a small bathroom–because the ‘hungry’ fibers load up with soil and then don’t clean as well. (TURI - Toxics Use Reduction Institute - UMASS, 2016) (www.turi.org)
In addition, once a microfiber cleaning cloth or floor mopping pad is dampened, it loses its ability to use static attraction to capture particles.
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths Tip #2
Part of the Story: Microfiber removes bacteria better than cotton cloths.
The Rest of the Story: Yes, but even though it has the inherent ability to be effective at removing micro-contaminants; in practice it’s often just another way to give them a ride to other locations.
Independent lab testing shows a microfiber flat mop quickly loses effectiveness at removing and holding bacteria, and becomes a source of contamination. (TURI - Toxics Use Reduction Institute - UMASS, 2016) (www.turi.org)
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths Tip #3
Part of the Story: Wiping with a microfiber cleaning cloth is the gold standard for 21st Century Cleaning.
The Rest of the Story: Consider human hygiene. Which is better: to wipe yourself down with a damp wash cloth or to take a shower? Obviously, cleaning is simply the ‘removal’ of unwanted matter, so the latter is better.
Understanding the complete story of effective cleaning using microfiber cleaning cloths will help us avoid being part smart, or dirty.
Journal of Hospital Infection. (June 2011). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51059666_Assessing_the_efficacy_of_different_microfibre_cloths_at_removing_surface_micro-organisms_associated_with_healthcare-associated_infections
TURI (Toxics Use Reduction Institute) UMASS, L. (2016). Product Development Test Using ATP and Bacteria Plates. Atlanta GA: CIRI & IICRC's Restoration Technical Conference & Symposium.
Allen Rathey is the principal of the Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI), director of the Indoor Wellness Council (IWC), and author of articles about best practices in cleaning and indoor environmental management.
*The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) and the Indoor Wellness Council (IWC) do not endorse products.