Just about everyone has heard about microfiber, but Clean Popo has recently discovered that pretty much no one really knows much about it, how it works, how to properly care for it, or even how to buy the good stuff. That's why we've decided to dedicate our February blog post to all things microfiber. So the next time you see a Clean Popo Housekeeper with a cleaning cloth, you'll know we are using space age materials to clean as effectively and efficiently as possible!
What exactly is Microfiber? Microfiber cleaning cloths are made of quality microscopic fibers knit together in a special process as to create an extremely effective cleaning material. Microscopic fibers, or microfibers as they are called, are dense polyester and polyamide fibers usually no thicker than 1/16 of a human hair. Although extremely thin, these fibers are made even thinner by being split during the manufacturing process. This process allows them to hold 6 - 8 times the weight of the material in water... A serious feat!!!
Microfiber is made out of a blend of synthetic fibers that are split during the manufacturing process, creating more surface area, and a cross section that looks a lot like an asterisk. As illustrated, it is actually the split fibers together with the space between that makes microfiber unique and useful. Essentially, the fiber picks up the dust and dirt, and the space in between holds it.
In addition to the open spaces in the fibers created during the splitting process, microfiber is an effective cleaning tool because the fibers are positively charged, whereas dirt and dust are negatively charged, so they are attracted to microfiber like a magnet. The microfiber holds on to the dust and dirt until it is released in the wash or when being rinsed out.
Why isn't Microfiber more popular? Although microfibers have been in development in Japan since the 1960s, they were were first brought to market and publicized in Sweden in the early 1990s. Since this time, their popularity across Europe and the world slowly increased. It was not until Rubbermaid began marketing microfiber products for US just a few years ago that they became really popular in the United States.
How can I be sure I am purchasing the right kind of Microfiber? For microfiber to be truly effective as a cleaning product it has to be split. If microfiber isn't split during manufacturing, it is pretty much not much more useful than just a very soft cloth. This is why it is very important when buying microfiber cleaning products to make sure that the fibers are split. One of the best ways to determine if the microfiber is split is to simply run your bare skin over it. If it catches to the small imperfections on your skin then then microfiber is split. You can also try spilling a few ounces of water on a table and taking a suspected piece of split microfiber to try to push the water. If the water is absorbed it is split microfiber. If the water is pushed it is not split microfiber.
How can I clean Microfiber? Microfiber has a pretty specific set of care requirements due to the unique properties and structure of the material. Just remember... No fabric softener, no bleach, no heat and you are half way there. Wash your microfiber in the washing machine with detergent only. Tumble dry them with the no heat setting as high heat will literally melt the tiny fibers together. Wondering why not to use fabric softener and bleach? Easy, because they eliminate the positive charge that makes microfiber so effective. If you can make a point to avoid these three laundry habits your microfiber will pretty much last forever.
Are there any issues with using Mircofiber? Microfiber is not the best option for some cleaning applications as it accumulates dust, debris, and particles so well. Sensitive surfaces such as flat screen TV and computer displays can easily be damaged by a microfiber cloth if it has picked up grit or other abrasive particles during previous use. The cloth itself is generally safer to use on these surfaces than other cloths though, particularly as it requires no cleaning chemicals. One of the ways to minimize the risk of damage to sensitive surfaces is to use a flat, non-rugged microfiber cloth, as these tend to be much less susceptible to retaining grit. Alternatively, you can always use a brand new one as it is very unlikely it will be holding any retained dirt.
Want to spread the gospel of Microfiber? You're in luck! The University of Washington's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences released a great article on microfiber back in November of 2011. It's only 2 pages and can easily be printed out and shared.
We at Clean Popo hope our little microfiber tutorial has helped you get a better understanding of a type of material you will undoubtedly see much more of in the coming years. Microfiber truly is one of the most revolutionary technological advances the cleaning industry has ever seen, and without it the work our nearly all Housekeepers would be more difficult.
So now when you see someone using a little blue synthetic rag when cleaning, you will not only know what it is, but also how it works, how to properly care for it, and how to buy it!
If you live in the Hoboken / Hudson County area and are more interested in having someone else do the cleaning, there really is only one option... Clean Popo!