One of the major recent innovations in cleaning products is based on microscopic technology: man-made fibers much finer than a single human hair. Comprehensive professional cleaning systems designed around microfiber fabric have been developed and refined over the past several years. Innovative systems of pads, cloths, and scrubbers for specialized cleaning applications plus lightweight, ergonomically designed handles, frames, wringers, and buckets have been developed to optimize microfiber’s use in settings where cleanliness is key: health-care and educational facilities, food service establishments, office, business, and residential buildings. Users of microfiber cleaning systems are reporting numerous advantages to this technology, including faster cleaning times, greatly reduced chemical and water usage, happier, healthier cleaning staff, and significant cost savings. To understand why these systems are so effective, and why microfiber is such a powerful cleaning tool, it’s useful to take a closer look at the fibers themselves.
What is microfiber and why does it clean so well?
Microfiber cleaning products are made from very fine filaments, which are chemically split into millions of even finer fibers with wedge-shaped cores and microscopic “hooks” that grab and hold onto dirt and bacteria. There are approximately 200,000 microfibers in every square inch of microfiber cloth. That’s a lot of cleaning power!
Good quality cleaning cloths are made from Ultrafine Microfiber of 0.2 denier, but the very best cloths and pads are made from fibers of 0.13 denier or lower. The lower the number, the finer the fiber.
Microfibers are combined and woven in different ways to suit a range of applications. There are cloths and pads for everything from dusting delicate equipment to scrubbing tile floors to sopping up big spills or applying floor finishes.
Traditional cotton wet mops, with their thick, round fibers, tend to push around and redistribute dirt instead of picking it up, but the minuscule “hooked” fibers of a microfiber pad reach right into the tiny cracks and pores in surfaces to grab every bit of dirt and bacteria. Since there are millions of fibers in each cleaning pad, and each fiber is split into many sections, the actual surface area available for picking up dirt is enormous.
When used dry, microfiber cloths and pads generate a static charge causing dirt and dust particles to literally jump onto the cleaning pad. When used damp (not sopping wet like traditional mops), the wedge-shaped core of the fiber cuts into tough grime, loosening it without being abrasive to the surface being cleaned. Specialized high absorbency pads are ideal for soaking up liquid spills and leave behind very little surface moisture, resulting in fewer slip-and-fall injuries.
Microfiber pads and cloths should be washed after each heavy use, but many are strong enough to withstand several hundred washings. Traditional looped-end string mops, by comparison, are unusable after about only 75 washings.
So that's microfiber. What are the "cleaning systems?"
Pads and Cloths
Microfiber pads and cloths have been developed for every possible application: dry dusting pads from 18” to 48”; wet mopping pads from 11” to 24”; high-absorbency pads for sopping up big spills; finish pads for smooth, even application of floor finishes; scrubber pads for cleaning into tile grout and removing stubborn dirt; and other pads, cloths, and mitts for cleaning every kind of surface. Features to watch for that signal the best value are: durable stitched edges, foam liners in pads, double-sided frames for twice as much mopping capacity, and color-coded pads and cloths to avoid crosscontamination between areas.
Handles, Frames, and Dusters
Handles and pad frames in the best microfiber cleaning systems are made from lightweight aluminum and are ergonomically designed to reduce the physical stresses of cleaning. A microfiber mop, used slightly damp, is many times lighter than a conventional wet cotton mop. Ergonomic features include: a uniquely shaped grip and angle of handle which eliminates the stress of cleaning with a “figure 8” motion, convertible handles that switch to a “vacuum cleaner style” push-pull grip for comfortably cleaning large areas, and a telescoping feature that allows workers to adjust the handle to the best height for them. Dusting wands on extendible handles ensure than even the most hard-to-reach areas can be cleaned easily, safely, and effectively. Time-saving features of the handles and frames include “quickconnect” mechanisms for speedy attachments of handles to frames, swiveling joints where the handle meets the frame to allow a full range of motion for cleaning into corners and around bends, and flat profiles so mops can slide easily under furniture and equipment. Look for smooth surfaces on handles and frames that make it easier to keep the tools themselves clean.
Wringer Carts and Buckets
Specially designed for use with microfiber cleaning pads, compact, lightweight wringer carts and buckets make cleaning with microfiber easy and efficient. They can include hooks for clean pads, bags for soiled pads, and “no-touch” wringers, which are operated with a foot pedal, so no bending or pulling is required. There is even a water filter system to conserve water and improved overall cleaning performance. When ready to empty, a valve can be opened so that the water can run out into a floor drain or the bucket can be emptied into a sink.
Go Green with Microfiber
Using a full microfiber cleaning system has been shown to reduce chemical consumption by up to 95 percent and reduce water consumption by as much as 90 percent. Fewer chemicals will be left on the floor of the building or linger in the air, and fewer chemicals will be washed down the drain when the mop bucket SE is emptied. Reducing water consumption is also important to help manage an increasingly scarce resource and put less strain on the infrastructure that takes away and treats the dirty water. These reductions help contribute to a healthier environment, inside the building and outside.
Microfiber cleaning pads need to be replaced less often than other cleaning systems, so fewer paper products, cloths, and mop heads will fill up the garbage. There are also direct human benefits to adopting microfiber as the standard method of cleaning. Cleaning staff will benefit from significantly less exposure to potentially hazardous cleaning products. For building tenants, facility cleanliness and indoor air quality improve attendance and performance on an ongoing basis.
Other Advantages of Using Microfiber Cleaning Systems
Extensive research has been conducted by institutions such as the University of California Davis Medical Centre and the Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C., into the validity of microfiber as the basis of a healthier, chemical-free cleaning system. The results of the studies showed that microfiber cleaning systems are vastly superior to traditional cleaning systems.
Improved Cleaning Performance: Bacteria cultures taken after cleaning different surfaces reveal that microfiber used with water cleans as well and even better than traditional cloths and mops used with many conventional cleaning agents.
Faster: Cleaning times are cut almost in half.
Safer: Fewer chemicals and allergens result in healthier environments. Ergonomically designed handles and lightweight buckets result in fewer worker injuries, and minimizing surface moisture on cleaned surfaces reduces the chance of slipping and falling.
Cost-effective: Chemical costs can be substantially reduced and the costs for water, replacement mop heads, and electricity (for drying time) are reduced by up to 60 percent. Labor costs are lower (20 percent per day) since prep and cleaning time are reduced and there are fewer lost workdays due to work-related illness and injuries.