[Note from Katie: As we kick of Spring Cleaning Week to clean and organize our houses in a week, please welcome long-time reader Erin, who introduced me to microfiber (which I love!) and who agreed to guest post and talk about her experience with microfiber. ]
This evening, as I was cleaning my kitchen and pondering what to write in this post, my 3-year-old son Jack, was kind enough to remind me of one of the many reasons I love cleaning with microfiber.
I opened the door leading to the basement stairway and was met with a startled, “I’m-too-cute-to-scold” grin and the rushed declaration, “Oh, sorry Mom!” Hmmm. Jack was sitting on the stairs, and the instrument he had used to draw all over the wall was laying several steps down – an indication that it had been tossed in a panic as the door opened.
Historically speaking, my reaction to this kind of event has been poor. In the spirit of honesty, I can tell you permanent imperfections mess with me. There was a time when the artistic expression of my child’s creativity appearing on one of my cream colored walls would have altered both my pulse and my demeanor. You see, in my home I am known as something of a fanatic about the condition of the walls.
My husband can tell you about my aversion to nailing things into walls for fear of leaving unsightly holes if a picture is not properly placed requires relocation. My two daughters have been sent on many a scuff-busting mission, the duration of which well exceeded their young attention spans. I have also spent an embarrassing amount of time and energy taking care of imperfections that I could do nothing about. Can you relate?
But that was the old me. Happily, adding children and years to my tenure as a mom have lightened me up quite a bit. With my first baby I may have panicked at pen on the wall, but I’m much more relaxed now. I’m better connected to the reality all things degrade, and my family and I will all be happier if I can just accept the wear and tear of life. Walls don’t really matter. That’s profound, I know, but it’s not all a matter of maturing.
I now also know microfiber can handle a lot of those imperfections that my dishes out! In addition to doing a super job at regular cleaning tasks, these cloths deal with many messes which previously would have upset my peace. Microfiber has helped me to tackle things like marks on the wall, stains on the upholstery, and seemingly ruined carpet.
So, today when I opened the door to the basement stairs, I was armed with a perspective change and microfiber. I instructed my little man about not drawing on the walls (which, I’m pretty sure he was already clear on), went to the kitchen, fetched my cloth, and in about 1 minute flat I removed Jack’s 1ft x 2 ft mural from the wall. I’m so glad I can encounter a mess, crack a smile, snap a picture, and then effortlessly wipe it all away with a cloth!
What Is Microfiber?
Generally speaking, the microfiber used in cleaning cloths is made from a combination of two synthetic polymers–polyester and polyamide (which is nylon). In the highest quality microfiber cloths, these fibers are approximately 1/100 of a human hair in diameter. This makes the fibers barely visible to the naked eye. The fibers are bundled together and spun into thread which is then woven into cloth.
When examined under magnification, an individual microfiber has a split or spoke-like appearance. The area between the spokes creates a larger surface on the fiber itself. When the individual fibers are joined together into thread, and then woven into cloth, the result is a product that has an amazing ability to pick up and trap dirt coupled with superior absorbency and scrubbing power.
In comparison, a traditional fiber, such as a cotton fiber, is larger and smooth. Cloths made from these fibers require a cleaning agent (detergents, soaps and other chemical cleaners) to dissolve the dirt, which is then absorbed into the cloth in order to be removed from the surface. If dirt isn’t easily dissolved, it isn’t easily picked up and can be left behind. While the split fibers of the microfiber cloths are able to pick up and hold dirt, traditional fibers tend to push dirt and moisture around a surface. So essentially, if you want a cleaner surface, choose microfiber!
Why Choose Microfiber?
The use of microfiber in cleaning is growing in popularity. Microfibers are completely changing the way people clean their homes, wash their cars, mop their floors, and even cleanse their bodies. Microfiber enables people to eliminate many of the household cleaners they would typically use. Whether a person has been using commercially produced cleaning products or making their own at home, many are making the switch to a cleaning method which uses only water and a these reusable cloths. In an effort to reduce chemical exposure, eliminate waste, save time and money, and simplify their lives, microfiber is becoming an obvious choice for many.
So what does this mean for you?
It means microfiber can make you into a lean, mean, green cleaning machine! Armed with only water and a microfiber cloth, you are going to have a greater impact than when you employed conventional cleaning methods. We all know why that’s good; cleaning with water is going keep nasty chemicals out of your home and out of our air and water systems.
In time, this reduction in chemical use and waste will translate into an improved quality of life for you, your family, your community and our world. Beyond this, cleaning only with water means no dirt or chemical residue will be left behind on your surfaces, which actually means you’re achieving a “cleaner” clean. Cleaning with microfiber can also save you money as you eliminate, or drastically reduce, the number of cleaning products you buy or make. The cloths I use in my home have been tested for up to 500 washes and carry a 2 year warranty.
Surprisingly, many people have found these cloths last well past both their laundering life expectancy and warranty period. The thought of investing once, reducing the products I use for cleaning from many to few, and reusing my cloths has been quite appealing to my minimalist sensibilities. Just as you simplify and save your product usage, you are going to save in time and effort. Your microfiber cleaning products become a housekeeping ally. Less effort impacts the amount of time spent on household tasks.
Using microfibers to clean has easily reduced my cleaning time by 50%. Normal cleaning surfaces like bathrooms, walls, kitchen counters and floors are much easier to maintain and more thoroughly cleaned when using a microfiber. As an added bonus, special cleaning projects and domestic nemeses have lost their sting. Window washing, polishing the stainless steel appliances and keeping the glass top cooking range clean are tasks I have struggled with in the past, but now no longer dread. Making cleaning truly easy and actually fun is a tall order.
Don’t get me wrong, it is still work, but I’ve found microfiber has removed some of the “labor” from the more laborious job. With three kids, a home business and the joy of homeschooling, I still struggle to find the time to clean. But now, when I do find a chunk of cleaning time, I can get a whole lot more accomplished!
Where to Use Microfiber Cloths
For the record, my thoughts and opinions on microfiber are based mainly on my experience with two different brands of cloths. I started with the jumbo pack of microfiber cloths from Costco and later graduated to Norwex Enviro Cloths. In terms of quality, these cloths are on different ends of the spectrum. While the cloths from Costco were a drastic improvement over the traditional cloths I had been using, the Norwex Enviro cloths have far out performed those I purchased at Costco.
The following thoughts and examples of microfiber usage are based mostly on my experiences with Norwex. (You should know I was so impressed by Norwex that I became an Independent Norwex Sales Consultant. So of course I’m biased.) As with any category of product, performance varies from company to company and experimentation is required to determine how well different cloths can handle specific tasks.
I’d like to offer a few of my favorite microfiber uses in order to get you thinking about ways in which you might incorporate microfiber into your own home and cleaning routine.
- In The Kitchen: This is where I use my microfiber the most. I use it for cleaning counter tops, cabinets, floors, stovetops and stainless steel appliances. The tiny microfibers do an awesome job clearing away dirt and food residues as well as tackling greasy films and messes.
- In the Bathroom: You can use a microfiber in the bathroom to easily remove dirt and residues from all surfaces. I especially like it on my shower walls!
- On Surfaces with a Shine: Windows, mirrors, chrome fixtures, granite and other shiny surfaces clean and shine easily with a cleaning cloth and specially designed polishing cloth. You’ll be thrilled by how easy it is to get a streak free shine! I’m not sure how readily available microfiber polishing cloths are, but I use the Norwex Window Cloth.
- For Dusting: Using microfiber to dust is wonderful! The cloth picks up and traps the dust rather than sending it airborne. Because you’re not using a traditional product when you dust, there is no chemical residue left behind to attract more dust. You will find you have to dust less often!
- On Your Floors: Whether you’re the kind of person who cleans floors on their hands and knees or with a mop, microfiber is going to thrill you. The first time I stood up and walked barefooted on my tile floor after washing it with a microfiber cloth, I was amazed. I couldn’t see the difference but I could feel it as I walked over the floor. I had no idea my old product was leaving such a significant residue. If you prefer to use a mop to clean your floors, you will find some companies make specially designed microfiber mop heads which you can dampen and use to wash your floors. The same microfiber principles apply.
- On Your Body: In our home we don’t use soap when we bathe. Instead, we use a microfiber body cloth to cleanse our bodies. I wash my face and remove my makeup with a microfiber facial cloth. I love it! I’ve never felt so clean! It can take a little pep talk to convince people to ditch the soap, but once they do, they rarely go back!
- For Stain Removal: In the same way microfiber works to pick up dirt from the surfaces in your home, like counter tops and bath tubs, it is also very effective in less obvious areas. Microfiber is wonderful for stain removal. Using only water, I have successfully cleaned upholstery, gotten long standing stains out of carpeting, removed marks and drawings from the walls, countertops and furniture, and removed stains from clothing. I keep a small cloth in my purse for use when I’m out and spill something on myself. We’ve seen microfiber remove blood, wine, green smoothie, waterproof ink, coffee, permanent marker, fingernail polish, grease, rust, vomit, ketchup, and many others.
Bear in mind, when using microfiber cloths the general rule of thumb is to use wet for cleaning and dry for dusting. When using wet, wring out as much water as possible before cleaning. This increases absorbency as well as the fiber’s ability to pick up dirt and residue.
If you are not already using microfibers, you may now be considering adding a few cloths to your home. As you shop for microfiber, bear in mind microfiber cloths are not created equal. Factors such as manufacturing, fiber quality and diameter, in addition to weave and desgin, can impact the quality of the cloth and thus it’s ability to perform.
Some cloths on the market today take advantage of the natural antibacterial properties of silver to give the cloth the ability to self purify. In these cases you will want to evaluate whether micro or nano silver is being used and whether the silver is added as a coating on the cloth or is embedded in the cloth. All of these factors matter, so do your research. Talk with friends and make sure you’re investing in quality microfiber products that will do a great job and last a long time.
If you have additional questions or would like to learn more about Norwex specifically, please visit my website, join my mailing list, like my Facebook page or send me an e-mail. I love to talk about microfiber and other ways to clean your home naturally!