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What is microfiber?

Microfiber is modern technology applied to cleaning. When used correctly, microfiber is more effective and safer than older cleaning methods. It cleans better and makes many chemicals unnecessary. To use microfiber correctly, you must understand how it works.

Microfiber is modern technology applied to cleaning.

Microfiber is made by combining two synthetic materials: polyester and polyamide. Polyester is light, strong, and waterproof; it gives microfiber its shape. Polyamide is dense and highly absorbent; it gives microfiber its power.


Chips of the two synthetics are fused together into a thin strand. The strand, about 1/100th as thick as a human hair, looks star-shaped under a microscope. This strand is then shredded with heat and chemicals to form tiny fibers - microfibers. These fibers are twisted into threads, which are then woven together to create a fabric.


The microscopic shredding of these strands gives microfiber a very high surface area. Once woven into cloth, the microfibers provide a dense tangle of statically charged crevices. These crevices collect particles of dust, dirt, and soil. Although there are many uses for microfiber, its behavior when wiped across a surface has had a major impact in the cleaning industry.


Microfiber has a major impact in the cleaning industry.

Cotton has long been the traditional fiber for cleaning. Cotton or a blend of cotton and synthetics is twisted into mop heads or woven into washcloths. Cotton can absorb a great amount of liquid - but it can’t lift dirt.

When cleaning with cotton, we must spread a detergent onto a surface to loosen dirt and the cotton absorbs the dirty liquid. (Read here about how soap works.)


This traditional method requires a lot of water and a lot of chemicals suited to each type of grime being removed. (Read here about pH scale and soil load.) It also leaves a lot of residue on the surface, like oils from the cleaners and polishes as well as dust and dirt that were not absorbed with the cleaner. Because surface residue provides a breeding ground for germs, we use additional chemicals to disinfect the surface.


Detergents, disinfectants, sanitizers, polishes, degreasers, and buckets of water - traditional cleaning methods are wasteful and toxic to the environment. Microfiber eliminates the need for 50%-80% of the water needed for cleaning, and because it does not depend on detergents to bind soil to water for absorption, most cleaning does not require any chemicals at all.


Cleaning with microfiber is more efficient, more effective, and safer than traditional methods.

Instead of absorbing liquid, microfiber actually sweeps up dirt, removing it from the surface. The cut ends reach into cracks and crevices at a microscopic level. The millions of tiny surfaces of the microfibers also move against each other, creating a static charge that attracts dust, pollen, and other dirt. All of this dust is collected inside the pad of the fibers until they are rinsed out.


Whereas cotton can only absorb water and cotton cleaning tools require detergents to help water collect soil, microfiber actually collects soil at the particle level. Surfaces wiped with a slightly dampened microfiber cloth are 98% free of soils, leaving a clean surface where germs can't grow.


If you have questions about cleaning methods, contact the experts at RBG Janitorial.



Sources:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, US EPA Archive, Using Microfiber Mops in Hospitals

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Microfiber Fact Sheet, excerpt from "Green Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting: A Toolkit for Early Care and Education"

Infection Control Today, Environmental Hygiene, Understanding Microfiber's Role in Infection Prevention

University of Washington Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS), Microfiber Fact Sheet


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