The phrase, “keep your powder dry” first referred to the need to keep gunpowder dry in preparation for battle, and while the modern maxim encourages general readiness, keeping your microfiber cloth initially dry can help you win the cleaning fight.
Think of a modern car wash: A car is pre-sprayed, allowed to soak, gently scrubbed, rinsed, and only then ? wiped and dried.
Likewise, pre-spraying a surface enables the cleaning solution to dissolve soils, then wiping with a dry microfiber cloth absorbs and captures soils.
Labor-saving cleaning takes advantage of the solvent nature of water (to which an effective cleaning solution is added as needed) combined with the removal and capillary action of a microfiber cloth or towel.
When the microfiber cloth is moistened first, you lose much of the capillary action.
In a comparison study, Dry Microfiber Towel Cleaning on Wetted Surface vs. Damp Microfiber Towel Cleaning of Dry Surface (Richter, 2014) - 32 evenly-soiled tabletop sites were cleaned to compare cleaning of a damp surface with a dry microfiber towel (16 sites) vs. a dry surface with a damp microfiber towel (16 sites).
ATP (adenosine triphosphate) measurement using a Hygiena SystemSURE PLUS™ ATP Measurement System (ATP Meter*) demonstrated that:
- Dry microfiber towel cleaning of the wetted surface removed 82% of the ATP.
- Damp microfiber towel cleaning of the dry surface only removed 31% of the ATP.
The study also showed cross-contamination (spreading of germs) occurred more often with B than A. Pre-spraying the surface before wiping with a dry microfiber cloth apparently also enabled dwell or set time to help eliminate germs (a Green Seal Certified hydrogen peroxide-containing neutral multipurpose cleaner was used as the cleaning solution).
Remember the two steps:
- Wet the surface first.
- Dry it with a microfiber cloth for optimal soil removal.
In short, keep your microfiber cloth, like proverbial gunpowder, dry to ensure desired removal outcomes for effective, complete, and hygienic cleaning.
*An ATP meter detects the presence of organic material that consists of or can support microbial growth.
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.