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how microfiber cloth works

Microfiber Cleaning Magic

I had heard that Microfiber cloth is the new wave in cleaning technology and often wondered what the hype was about. Now I work for a cleaning company, so I decided to find out what microfiber cloth is and how it works. Microfiber cleaning cloth is much more expensive than cotton towels. On Flipkart, the cheapest microfiber cloth is for Rs 130 per piece; this is more than 7 times the price of cotton cleaning cloth which costs Rs 105 for a pack of 6. So the question is: Is it worth the money? So let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

What is microfiber?

microfiber cloth close up
© catchashutosh

In simple terms, microfiber is synthetic fibre that has very thin threads. When I say thin, I mean incredibly thin, less than 1/5th the diameter of human hair. Figure 1 is a close up of a microfiber cleaning cloth. Notice how fine the threads are and how densely they are packed. These dense threads have a high total surface area when compared to cotton or other synthetic fabric.

Old technology, new application.

According to Wikipedia, microfiber technology was first marketed in the 1970’s by a Japanese company. The thin threads demonstrate the wick effect (capillary action), when used for clothing; sweat is quickly absorbed and evaporates easily creating a cooling effect. Microfiber is a poplar material for general clothing and only recently has it been used as material for cleaning cloths.

 It’s all in the ‘micro’.

The threads are much thinner than cotton and so are able to pick up even the smallest particle of dust. As if the threads weren’t thin enough, microfiber for cleaning is split to products multiple strands to reduce its thickness to almost 1/100th of a human hair.  A magnified microfiber cross section looks like an asterisk. A cotton thread would look like a circle; clearly microfiber has a greater surface area that traps dust particles making it more effective for cleaning. In the figure 2 one can see that the microfiber thread with its split structure is better at trapping dust as compared to cotton thread. The large surface area of the cloth is also responsible for better adhesion of dust and oil on the fibre.


Image &Copy; catchashutosh

Microfiber and us

I have listed general properties of microfiber cleaning cloth. Manufacturers have improved microfiber technology in many clever ways. Microfiber cleaning cloths that are available in the market today have several additional superpowers.

Figure 3 &Copy; catchashutosh

We at Broomberg use microfiber cleaning cloths manufactured by 3M. They are marketed as Scotch-Brite™High Performance Cleaning Cloth. According it its product specifications sheet the cloth has a unique knit pattern so that it can pick up dust, oil and water without leaving behind any lint. The microfiber has a ribbon like shape to provide maximum surface area while the knit pattern creates a surface that traps both small and large particles. Figure 3 is a close up picture of the cloth. One can clearly see the tufts and valleys on the surface that trap dirt and retain it.

According to Bharat, our Head of operations, this cleaning cloth is excellent for finishing after cleaning as it does a very fine job of picking up dirt and does not leave behind any lint or residue. It is much more efficient than normal cotton towels so our staff can clean surfaces with exceptional detailing. We are pretty obsessive about cleaning so microfiber cleaning cloth is a natural choice. One can either use the cloth dry or slightly dampen it.

According to the product specifications the product can be used for the following applications.

  • Dust removal
  • Removing fingerprints from glass
  • Polishing furniture
  • Cleaning and polishing brass

The cleaning cloth ends up picking up a lot of dust so cleaning is essential at the end of every day. The best part is that the clothes can be laundered normally and are resistant to most cleaning agents. In addition to cleaning cloths, microfiber dusters, mops etc. are also available but the principle remains the same.

Even though microfiber is more expensive than normal cleaning towels its efficiency makes up for the price. You should definitely replace your regular rag with a high tech microfiber cloth.

About Ashutosh Bharadwaj

When he was a kid; Ashutosh read that the most interesting people have little or no idea about what they are going to be when they grow up. Now, inspite of being an Adult, Ashutosh is still hung up on that thought.

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