Friday, February 29, 2008

Thursday Tips: Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Thursday is tip day.

Reader Natalie requested a post on microfiber towels, so here's the skinny. I use them to clean almost everything inside Odyssey without any cleaning chemicals. The exceptions are surfaces that need to be disinfected (like the toilet) or are greasy (like the kitchen floor last night after Sean dropped most of a roast chicken on it. Opal and Simple Green were needed to cut the fat.)

According to Wikipedia, "Microfiber is constructed in a blend of 80/20 ratio of polyester/polyamideams. They are made from a warp knitted thread, composed of wedge-shaped polyester filaments with a core of nylon. The fiber's wedge shaped filaments follow surfaces, lift up dirt, and then trap the particles inside the fibers. The capillary effect between the filaments and nylon core creates a high absorbency, which in turn enables this cloth to clean and polish at the same time."

Yup, that's what they do. Here's a run-down of how I use them:

Dry cloths are used right out of the package to clean just about anything. After they get dirty, I launder them in warm water with regular detergent. Depending on how soiled they are, the cloth may stain because they really hold the dirt. I've washed some of our cloths dozens of times. They really hold water, too, which makes them great to clean up wet messes.

  • Dust hard, smooth surfaces like counter tops, windowsills, wood cabinets
  • Dust electro-statically charged surfaces like computer screens & keyboards, dashboard instrument panel, GPS
  • Clean nooks and crannies in screens, heater vents and grill covers
  • Dust soft, delicate surfaces like cloth window blinds
  • Remove fur from Sunbrella fabric walls
  • Use as a reusable replacement for Swiffer dry cleaning mop cloths
  • Absorb rainwater from our window leaks
  • Absorb sloshing from aquarium while under way

Wet, the cleaning magic of microfiber really comes through. The key to getting hard surfaces to shine is to wipe first with a damp/wet cloth, then follow immediately afterwards with a dry cloth. Using nothing but water, the microfiber will make your stuff sparkle. Rather than have one wet and one dry cloth, I usually just dampen one corner for the cleaning and use the rest of the dry cloth to finish.

  • Clean hard surfaces to a spot-free shine, including glass, mirrors, chrome, stainless steel, plastic, automotive paint, finished wood
  • Use as a reusable replacement for Swiffer damp mop cloths
  • Remove dead bugs from glass, paint, metal
  • Clean leather and vinyl
  • I've heard they clean the dreaded RV "black streaks," but since Odyssey doesn't get those, I can't attest to that.

I'm not kidding when I say I use these cloths on every surface in the bus: microwave oven, vinyl ceiling, DVD player, faucet handles, walls, floor, Fantastic Fans. The only decision to I have to make is whether to use a little water or not.

Here is a video of me cleaning all those things, and more, using my trusty microfiber towels:

We first heard about this amazing material at the Escapade RV rally in the summer of 2005. One of the seminars was about cleaning your RV in an environmentally friendly way. I don't remember the name of the woman who gave the seminar, but she was funny and engaging. Her enthusiastic pitch convinced me to buy one of her $5 cloths, but when she passed around samples, I realized I already owned one.

Back when we did a lot of motorcycle camping, I bought a small, super-absorbent bath towel to pack in my saddlebags. The towel hadn't seen much use, but I remembered it feeling exactly the same as the seminar samples. Sure enough, my towel was microfiber. I used it for a couple of months before I left it behind in San Jose with a friend. It worked great and I needed more!

Sean then found these:

They are 14" x 14", and we purchased them at Costco. A package of 36 lurid yellow cloths cost $15, less than $0.50 each. If you aren't a member of Costco, Amazon sells them here for about $1.00 each.

Microfiber comes in several different textures. The smoother ones are supposed to be better for computer screens and glass, but I like the "terry cloth" ones for everything and keep a stack of them handy at all times.

I don't get any royalties for pitching these things, I just am totally sold on using microfiber to clean. I'll admit it was fun to make this little "infomercial," though.


  1. Dear Louise,

    Thanks so much! I had used microfiber for a while to dust (great application!), but I had no idea of the other uses until your post. My environment (house, RV, books, office, etc.) is cleaner already,


  2. Good info you guys, I've been using microfibre cloths for years, introduced to them by my motorcycle pals.

  3. i carry MF in my enduro jacket, one in my sprinter, one in my briefcase. they are great great great

    you do know, the MF clothes? never wrinkle? and clean stuff you sit on too!

    (also sold on MF)

    trivia, Sea of Cortez has the largest population of giant squid in the world. go fishing while you are there. yummy calamari steaks....


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