How to Clean Microfiber Cloths
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Knowing how to clean microfiber cloths will extend their usefulness and prevent cross-contamination. As one of the ten necessary 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 towel. That’s because the ultra-fine fibers in this synthetic fabric are woven and then split to increase surface area.
You’ve probably also noticed that your microfiber upholstery or clothing don’t have the same roughness. When used as a replacement for leather or suede, the fibers aren’t split.
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 regular fabric, improper washing will wear away the split bristles and ruin their scrubbing power.
How To Clean Microfiber Cloths
To keep your microfiber cloths in good shape, follow these steps.
Use Separate Cloths for Separate Tasks
It’s a good idea to have separate microfiber cloths for dusting, for cleaning kitchens, and for cleaning bathrooms. That’s why I like multi-colored sets like these. I use the yellow set to dust, the blue ones in the bathroom, and the white ones everywhere else.
When Should You Wash Them?
Kitchen and bathroom cloths: 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.
Cloths used for polishing or dusting: Microfiber cloths used to dust, polish mirrors or glass, or to clean other dry messes need to be rinsed well under running water then allowed to air dry. Launder them more thoroughly every four or five uses.
How To Clean 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 erodes those split fibers that give them such excellent cleaning power. The surfactants in fabric-softener cause the fibers to clump. Both destroy microfiber cloths’ cleaning powers.
2. Don’t use vinegar, either. Although vinegar is a wonderful laundry aid, its acidity will erode the bristles.
3. Pretreat stains before washing. Use a drop or two of liquid dish or laundry detergent to treat stains. Gently rub this in on both sides with your fingers and allow it to work for 5 minutes before washing.
4. 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. You can launder all of your microfiber cloths together in one cycle using hot water — the heat will disinfect them.
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 in a sunny spot for added disinfection. 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. Replace them when they lose their rough texture and start to feel more like washcloths.
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So wish I’d read this half an hour ago… currently my microfibre cloths are swirling around the washing machine at 65c with a couple of tea towels & an old terry nappy that I use as a cleaning cloth. Yep, there’s also vinegar in there.
I used a couple of them when cleaning the oven and they were very greasy, so I figured hot temps, vinegar and also some borax would be needed to get them very clean.
Hopefully they’ll be all right, Mummy Pig. Mine have accidentally made it into wash loads with vinegar. Once or twice doesn’t seem to do them much harm, but beyond that it seems the vinegar “eats” the microfibers. After that, they don’t get into the nooks and crannies as well, but they’re still fine for things like wiping appliances.
When you suggest using a tumble dryer sheet on paintwork to prevent dust, is the sheet damp or dry?
Dry works to remove dust, damp works to remove and prevent it. 🙂
I use mine to sweep the floors – it does a really good job! Unfortunately, I cannot get the cloths cleaned in the machine! I remove any large dust balls and hair but it always comes out a mess – a big mess. Any advice on how to get the hair and dust off these towels so I can start fresh? Thanks!
You can always try vacuuming them with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. 🙂
This is the single biggest reason I hate microfuber cloths. Everyone touts then and I wanted to jump on the bandwagon but they are impossible to remove all the hair and lint from. Making then less and less effective everytime I use them. And I wash per all recommend methods too: not too hot, by themselves, no softeners etc. But after maybe just a couple of weeks and washes they are depositing more random lint fibers than pieces of dust they pickup. Makes me want to tear my hair out!
I have heard washing then in pretty hot water, with some dish soap (like in a big pot on the stove) could get the fibers to relax enough to let go of all the lint, and crud, but in worried about the heat breaking down the synthetic/plastic fibers.
I just fill a sink halfway with hot water straight from the tap, add a few drops of dish detergent, and rinse my cloths repeatedly while cleaning them. Then give them another good swish after use and let them dry. When I have enough dirty ones, I toss them together into the wash in their own load.
They definitely can be finicky. Some brands don’t hold onto hair as much as others. I’m a fan of Zwipes for that reason. And, of course, swishing them in a lot of water after use helps dislodge the hair and dust. Put don’t pull your hair out — that’ll just make more of a mess. 😉
Do you also put borax in with them, or at least the ones used in the bathroom, to disinfect?
You certainly can.
I washed my daughter’s microfiber towels and now there are big pieces of lint all over them. Too much to pick off by hand, lint rollers don’t work. Please help?!
It’s very difficult to get lint out of microfiber towels once they’ve been washed with other fabrics. My best suggestion is to wash them just a few at a time in a load but use the highest water level setting so they get a chance to swish around a lot. This should loosen up some of the lint. Run them in small batches through the dryer, too, to remove more. Best of luck!
I detail cars. To clean the wax and grease I place in warm water and scrub spots with Dawn, baking soda and vinegar. This works great! Then I throw in washing machine on 15 minute Speed Wash. Throw in dryer for 10-15 minutes and fold. Good luck!
Good to know!
Hi can I dry two different color microfiber cloth together after washing. exp: blue and red .
Yes. They don’t really bleed onto each other and, even if they did, they’re cleaning cloths so it doesn’t matter.
hello I was wandering if I can use Dettol cleaning product with my cloth without damaging it as I like to disinfect my floors
Dettol isn’t widely available in the States where it’s mostly used as a medical antiseptic, so I can’t rightly claim to have tried it with microfiber cloths. That said, I can’t think of any reason it would harm them since it’s not acidic or corrosive like bleach or vinegar.
I use Polly microfiber cloths and wash with bleach, vinegar, etc. just fine. Website says it’s ok to do so! 🙂
I’ll check those out! Thank you. 🙂
How can I remove pet hair from a microfiber mop please?
Since I don’t know what kind of microfiber mop you have, it’s hard to answer that easily. I’d start by slipping on a rubber dishwashing glove and firmly running my hand over the mop head repeatedly. Those gloves are brilliant at picking up pet hair from sofas, so I’m guessing they’d work on a dry microfiber mop head, too. You could also try vacuuming it. Or both!
Thank you! Is a vileda mop so would be difficult to hoover, but I shall try the rubber gloves. Thank you:-)
I’ve been washing my microfiber clothes with ammonia. They get pretty gnarly so I feel like some sort of disinfectant is needed. Also ammonia is amazing for greasy stains. Now I worry it is corrosive as bleach. . .
Ammonia is corrosive, and it doesn’t kill staph, so I’d recommend washing those a few times without it then following these steps.
To remove pet hair, grass or dust from cloths, I use a rubber bristle brush, like a Norwex or Carrand. Just hold the cloth over the trash can. The brush pulls off most of the dirt and then you can wash them. I use if with my microfiber mop also. Thank you for the information about the vinegar. I’ve been using that in the rinse cycle with my cloths, and it is probably making them less effective.
Great tip. Thank you for sharing!
I just bought a large pack of durafiber clean cloths. There are three colors for separating the type of cleaning. My question is what is the best way to get grease and oil stains out of these cloths in the washer. Thanks so much
Pretreat the stains how I described above.
What do you recommend for dealing with microfiber ha is getting hard/crunchy feeling due to hard water? I’ve read other places that a vinegar rinse will help with that but I want to extend the life as long as possible as well.
I haven’t encountered that problem, to be honest, even though I have hard water. Are they “crunchy” from air-drying perhaps?
Katie, do you wash all your microfiber cloths together or stop separate the bathroom/kitchen/other ones into different loads?
I put them all in the same load since drying them in sunlight on the laundry line disinfects them.
Thanks, Katie! I am going through your 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House book and loving all the cleaning solution recipes and checklists!
I’m so glad you’re enjoying it!
I love micro-fiber cloths. Or I should say “loved”, past tense. I read that, as with all polyester fleece, which is basically a type of plastic, they shed micro-plastic particles when washed which are not filtered out of the water and end up in the sea where they are causing world-wide serious pollution problems. They do not bio-degrade. I have invested in something called a Guppy Bag (and I have no connection with this company in any way) that you wash fleece and micro-fiber articles in and it captures all the plastic bits. These can then be disposed of in landfill, which is not ideal, or Ecobricked, which is ,at best, a stop-gap measure. My own opinion is that we need to re-think our plastic usage as a species and change our ways. While cotton and linen shed their own fibres when washed these are at least bio-degradable. I shall use as responsibily as possible the micro-fiber cloths I have but I won’t be buying any more, sadly. Love your posts Katy.
Thanks for that info, Cynthia. I recently read about the micro-plastic particles making their way to the sea but hadn’t drawn the connection between microfiber cloths and their contribution to this problem. Will check out the bags you mentioned. Thanks!
Hi! Hope I can ask a question. In washing/laundering the cloths, do you wash them altogether or do you separate the cloths used in kitchen vs comfort rooms? Also, do you separate per function like you wash separately the cloths used to wipe comfort room sink vs the toilet? Im afraid of germs / cross contamination but Im wondering if after all it’s fine to wash the cloths together as germs could be killed in the process. THANK YOU SO MUCH!
I wash all of the microfiber cloths in one load using hot water then dry them using high heat. The heat kills the germs and prevents cross-contamination. You could also sun-dry them — sunlight is a great disinfectant.
I am a cleaner and clean a pub my boss told me to wash my microfibre cloths at 60 temperature and I did and without any detergent how can water alone clean these plus the mirrors in the pub are driving me insane they are all marked and nothing seems to work can you help me ???
Although that temperature is correct, assuming you mean 60 C and not 60 F, water alone won’t get them clean. Adding detergent is necessary to cut through grime and remove soil. As far as the mirrors, you might want to try using a clean, dry microfiber cloth with my homemade glass cleaner.
What about washing them with hydrogen peroxide and borax? I feel like they need a stronger disinfectant.
I also use colloidal silver (homemade) in my laundry, but I am afraid that the tiny particles would clog up the microfibers (?)
I was trying to find out about vinegar when I came across your article- thank you for letting us know that it can harm them.
Although hot water washing will kill the kind of household germs that spread illness, I understand your desire to feel you’ve knocked out as much bacteria as possible.
Using hydrogen peroxide or borax could help, but using both is redundant. That’s because combining borax with water creates hydrogen peroxide.
You could also try oxygenated bleach, which does not have the corrosive effect of chlorine bleach. Again, you wouldn’t need to add hydrogen peroxide to it, since oxygenated bleach also creates hydrogen peroxide when combined with water.
I have Tupperware Dish towel. I washed in machine with fabric softener. I can’t get slimmey feel off it. Any suggestions? thanks
If it feels slimy, try washing it in a hot or warm cycle with no detergent but add a little baking soda (bicarb) to loosen the grime.
I have two comments here:
1. I clean VRBOs and I’ve noticed that in one VRBO the microfiber cloths come out just fine when I wash them with other articles of clothing or by themselves. In the other VRBO (which has an old agitator washing machine) The microfiber cloths come out with lint on them every single time. Even if I wash them alone. I seriously think that the type of washing machine and the cleanliness of the machine makes a big difference in whether or not you get lint on your microfiber.
2. I have been using microfiber in my personal kitchen and bathrooms and as cleaning products for years. I always wash them all together. However, before I put them in the dryer, I pull out the ones that stink (i.e. kitchen cloths) and boil them on my stove top. After that I just put them through another spin cycle on the washing machine and dry with the rest of the microfiber. I never have trouble with smelly cloths doing this. It seems to work for all kinds of smelly fabric. They do fade quicker, but smell better!
That’s an interesting idea about the agitator being to blame.