Knowing how to clean microfiber cloths will extend their usefulness. As one of the 10 basic cleaning tools everyone should own, microfiber cloths are indispensable at keeping your home clean. They do require proper care to work well, though.
If you’ve ever held a microfiber cleaning cloth in your bare hand, you’ve probably noticed that it’s more bristly and rough than a standard cloth. That’s due to the ultra-fine fibers which make up this synthetic fabric, which are woven and then split to increase surface area. You’ve probably also noticed that your microfiber upholstery doesn’t have the same roughness: that’s because its fibers aren’t split, so it remains a smooth, supple replacement for leather and suede.
The split fibers of a microfiber cleaning cloth are what makes them so great at picking up dust or powering away grime. Unfortunately, that same texture makes them harder to clean since the fibers grab onto dirt and other messes. While it’s tempting to think you can treat them like other fabrics, improper washing will wear away those split bristles and ruin their scrubbing power.
How To Clean Microfiber Cloths
Microfiber cloths should not be treated like regular cleaning or dusting rags. To keep them in good shape, follow these steps.
Cleaning Dusty Microfiber Cloths
It’s a good idea to have separate microfiber cloths for dusting, for cleaning kitchens, and for cleaning bathrooms. That’s why I like colored sets like these from Amazon: I use the yellow cloths to dust, the blue ones in the bathroom, and the white ones everywhere else.
Since repeated washing inevitably wears down the fibers, those used for dusting should be shaken outside to remove as much dust as possible then repeatedly rinsed under cold water. Reserve laundering for every four or five uses and you’ll keep them in good shape longer.
How Often To Wash Microfiber Cloths
- Wash these cloths after each use: Microfiber cloths used in the bathroom or kitchen, along with those used to clean greasy messes, should be washed after each use. Using hot water (over 120°F) will kill lingering germs.
- Wash these after every other use: Microfiber cloths used to dust, polish mirrors or glass, or to clean other dry messes just need to be rinsed well under running water then allowed to air dry. This will prolong their usefulness.
How To Launder Microfiber Cloths
Regardless of how you use them, eventually all microfiber cloths need to be laundered. To keep them in good condition, you need to understand a few things.
1. Never use bleach or fabric softener. Both bleach and fabric softener will ruin your microfiber cloths. Bleach will erode those split fibers that give them such great cleaning power, while fabric-softener will act as a wax and cause the fibers to mat.
2. Don’t use vinegar, either. Although vinegar is a wonderful laundry aid, do not use it to launder microfiber cloths: its acidity will also erode the bristles.
3. Wash them in a separate load. The bristles on microfiber will pick up lint from other types of fabric. Agitation with other fabrics will wear down the bristled fibers, too. So never wash microfiber cloths with other loads of laundry. That’s another reason why I buy several dozen at a time: so I have plenty of clean ones to use until I’ve got a good load of dirties to wash. (Crazy as it sounds, you can keep the used ones in a bag in the freezer so they don’t develop odors while you’re waiting to have a full load.)
4. Pretreat stains before washing. Use a drop or two of liquid dish or laundry detergent. Gently rub this in on both sides with your fingers and allow it to work for 5 minutes. Launder microfiber cloths in warm, not hot, water using a non-bleaching detergent.
5. Air dry them if you can. It’s best to air dry microfiber cloths and, fortunately, they dry very quickly. Hang them from the laundry line or drape them over the shower rod and they’ll dry within an hour. If you’re in a hurry and need to toss them in the dryer, use a low-heat setting and skip the fabric softener sheets.
How long do they last?
If properly cared for, your microfiber cloths should last over 100 washings. You’ll know when it’s time to replace them because they’ll lose their rough texture and start to feel more like washcloths.