Good-bye cotton cloths and sponges, hello microfiber!

Posted: January 28, 2014

One of the main "tools of the trade" in a green cleaning program is microfiber.

Microfiber is a synthetic material usually made from polyester and nylon. One way it differs from traditional cotton cloths is that the fibers are split to be over 100 times thinner than a human hair. This creates a larger volume of surface area making microfiber more absorbent than a cotton cloth the same size.

Microfiber is also great for cleaning because it has a positive charge, which attracts negatively charged dirt and grease. The large surface area and positive charge allow you to remove dirt, grime and germs from surfaces without necessarily using chemicals. By incorporating microfiber tools into your cleaning program, you can reduce exposure to chemicals for both you and the children in your care while also decreasing indoor air pollution that comes from using cleaning chemicals.

Microfiber cloths and mops can be purchased from many different places. When choosing a product, feel it with your fingers if possible. If it catches slightly on your hand, it is higher quality compared to those that don’t catch on your hand. Overall, the cost of microfiber tools is relatively cheap since they are durable and reusable, and often available in bulk quantities. Even cheap cleaning cloths do a good job removing dirt and germs. You can also get different colored cloths for different areas or cleaning jobs in your child care facility to minimize cross-contamination.

Because microfiber has a positive charge to it, microfiber cleaning tools need to be washed separately from other materials or else they will attract hair, dirt and lint from other laundry making the microfiber less effective. A laundry program for microfiber materials may include hand washing the items, running a separate load through the washing machine or using a laundry service. Microfiber also dries very quickly and can be washed up to one thousand times and still be effective. However, bleach will shorten the life of microfiber. Do not use fabric softener when washing microfiber products, because the oils in the fabric softener will make the microfiber less effective at cleaning and picking up dirt and germs.

Cleaning with microfiber is easy too! Surfaces can be cleaned with just the microfiber cloth or with an all-purpose cleaner, preferably one that is third-party certified. Microfiber mops are lighter weight than traditional cotton mops and leave a lot less water on the floor. Windows can be cleaned with just water and a microfiber cloth, and dusting with microfiber picks up more dirt in less time.

For more information about microfiber, check out the fact sheet “What’s so great about microfiber?” from Green Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting: A Toolkit for Early Care and Education.

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