I write a lot about improving nutrition and health from the inside, but today we switch gears and start making sure we are avoiding toxins from the outside, too!
Everyday we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals in the air, water and our environment, and many more through products we use in our homes and beauty care. Cleaning products tend to be the worst offenders and are some of the most dangerous to have around the house with kids.
Most cleaning products contain harsh solvents, detergents and fragrances as well as harmful chemicals like bleaches, ammonia, sulfates, and parabens. If you’ve ever read the back of a bottle of cleaning spray or bleach, about the damage those chemicals can cause to skin, the respiratory track, eyes, lungs, etc, plus the warning “Can be fatal if swallowed.” Not particularly things you want under your sink with kids around!
As with many things, green cleaning by making your own can save you a lot of money on cleaning products and is much healthier. Microfiber has also helped me save a lot of money and clean naturally over the years.
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. 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 design, 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.
What I Use
Personally, since I discovered Microfiber for cleaning, I don’t use anything else! A product that cleans naturally with only water… I was sold! (Tip: you can also add a couple drops of lemon essential oil for a fresh scent while you clean!)
If you haven’t tried microfiber, the basic idea is that the microscopic fibers in the cloth pick up much more dirt, bacteria and germs than regular cloth. I’ve even seen microfiber alone take off a huge streak of butter on a window (don’t ask….)
My favorite microfiber products that basically clean my entire house are:
- The Antibac Envirocloth– a Heavy duty microfiber cloth with silver fibers embedded in it to kill bacteria and germs. It cleans everything from my cabinets to counters to stainless steel appliances. I also use it to clean my bathroom and can literally clean the bathroom from top to bottom with it. I now keep one microfiber cloth in each room for fast cleaning.
- The Polishing Cloth– I use this on windows for a natural streak free shine with no chemicals. I use one half wet and one half dry and just wipe down with the damp and dry with the dry side. This also works great for polishing mirrors, appliances and electronics.
- The Dusting Mitt: Actually picks up dust, even the dust that collects on top of fans (unless perhaps you dust those more often that I do and don’t have dust on top of your fans…). The kids love using this one too and I don’t mind because no chemicals are involved.
- The Telescopic Mop– Hands down my favorite because it lets me mop my entire house without chemicals in 10-15 minutes! It uses a heavy duty microfiber pad that can be machine washed and no bucket or chemicals are required! They even make a kids version of all of the above and my kids love to use them!
You can also make your own DIY cleaners and disinfectants for your house, laundry, etc for pennies and they often work as well or better than chemical-laden store bough options. These are a few of my favorite:
Make Your Own Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent-Video Tutorial
Natural Stain Treatment Reference Sheet
Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent
Natural All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe
Natural Oven Cleaning
Natural Homemade Glass Cleaner Recipe
Easy Homemade Scouring Powder Recipe
Natural Cleaning and Organizing Checklist
Natural Bathroom Cleaning
Natural Kitchen Cleaning
How do you clean naturally? Ever used microfiber or other green products? Share below!