Microfiber cleaning cloths are arguably the most efficient way to deep clean. To understand why, you’ll need a quick and dirty deep dive into the science of scrubbing.
Even if you’re using fancy formulations and cleaning supplies, old-school deep cleaning comes down to a bucket of soapy water and a rag. The key is the soap, which scientists call a surfactant. If you could zoom in and view the molecular structure of that soap, you’d see long molecules that look somewhat like a tadpole with a head on one end and a tail on the other. The head end loves water while the tail end loves grease. Together, those ends act like magnets. One end pulls grease from the dirty surface, and the other end pushes the liberated grease away from the surface with water.
Microfiber is different. This high-tech textile doesn’t rely on soap at all. Instead, its cleaning power is due to the structure of the microfiber itself. Microfiber is plastic, and the surface fibers are split to each be the size of 1/100th of a single human hair. That means a microfiber cleaning cloth isn’t a smooth surface; it’s covered in millions or billions of grippy microscopic fibers. These seriously amp up the surface area of the cloth, and each of those minuscule fiber fingers can reach into tiny crevices a smooth cloth would miss. That means if you’re cleaning your computer keyboard, your cloth doesn’t just wipe over the surface of the keys; it reaches into the spaces around each key. And those fibers carry a subtle charge called van der Waals forces (one of the forces that hold molecules together) so, as those fingers reach into the depression around your spacebar, they actually lift dust and microbes out of those crevices and hang onto them until you rinse the cloth in the sink.
And they do all that without soap or detergent, which leave behind residue.
BEST LENS MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTH: MAGICFIBER MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTHS
BEST GENERAL PURPOSE MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTH: MR SIGA CLEANING CLOTH
BEST MICROFIBER MOP: O-CEDAR EASY WRING SPIN MOP
BEST MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTH FOR ELECTRONICS: 3M ELECTRONICS MICROFIBER CLOTH
BEST MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTH FOR GLASS: E CLOTH WINDOW CLEANING PACK
BEST OVERSIZED MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTH: STREAK FREE MICROFIBER MAGIC CLOTH
BEST BUDGET MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTH: AIDEA MICROFIBER CLEANING CLOTHS
Features to Consider When Shopping for Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
While microfiber cleaning cloths are great for scrubbing just about anything, different types are suited for specific cleaning chores. Think about what you want to tackle with this high-tech textile, and make sure that you don’t buy one to clean everywhere. Household surfaces such as counters and sinks may harbor germs, and you don’t want to risk cross-contaminating other items.
Will You Be Cleaning Optics, Eyeglasses, and Sunglasses?
Microfiber cleaning cloths are ideal for cleaning sunglasses and optical devices. Such cloths are small and thin, so you can get to the edges of the lenses where dirt and grime often accumulate. All you need to do is rinse or blow off the lenses, so you’ll remove any potentially scratch-causing grit.
Best Lens Microfiber Cleaning Cloth: MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
Made for Clarity
These are designed for cleaning lenses, and remove dust, oil, smudges, fingerprints, and dirt. MagicFiber
These 6-inch by 7-inch microfiber cloths are especially designed for cleaning quality glass. They absorb and remove dust, oil, smudges, and fingerprints—all those things that find their way onto lenses—and are super-soft and won’t scratch.
Will You Be Cleaning General Household Surfaces?
A stack of microfiber cleaning cloths is really all you need for general purpose cleaning in your home. Thanks to the huge surface area and those subtle van der Waals forces, microfiber will pick up more of the dirt and grime you see on any surface in your home.
But microfiber really shines when it comes to picking up stuff you can’t see—like bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. Most bacteria and viruses can live on surfaces from a few hours up to a few weeks. Things like staph, salmonella, and E. coli will last for hours, but Listeria—which is the food-borne pathogen most likely to kill you—can survive for months (even inside your fridge).
Viruses like the flu and common cold can chill for a day or two on your surfaces, but some forms of hepatitis can stick around for months. And norovirus (a.k.a. food poisoning) can live on any surface for about two weeks.
Best General Purpose Microfiber Cleaning Cloth: Mr Siga Cleaning Cloth
This microfiber cloth comes in a set of four colors so you can have dedicated bathroom and kitchen cleaning towels. Mr. Siga
These 12.6 inch by 12.6 inch microfiber cleaning cloths are basic scratch-free, lint-free microfiber towels suitable for dusting or cleaning any surface, including delicate objects. A great feature of this pack is that it’s a set of 12 towels in 4 colors. That makes it easy to color code your home so you don’t cross-contaminate by using your toilet microfiber to scrub your kitchen counter.
Will You Be Cleaning Floors?
Thanks to gravity, the floor is just the place where stuff winds up—from crumbs and hair to dirt and microbes. That’s especially true if you wear shoes from the street into your home. You want to keep it clean. And it turns out that microfiber cleaning cloths excel at getting floors clean, and you can get them in the form of a microfiber mop.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis Medical Center tested microfiber mops on hospital floors–places where unfriendly microbes can abound. They found these versatile tools reduced bacteria on hospital floors by 99 percent. That’s a huge improvement on cotton mops, which reduced those same bacteria by only 30 percent.
Best Microfiber Mop: O-Cedar Easy Wring Spin Mop
This microfiber mop is specialized for floors and has a triangular pivoting head for reaching into corners and under furniture. O-CEDAR
This microfiber mop is an entire cleaning system. It includes a bucket with a splash guard and foot pedal for easy wringing. The head of the mop is triangular to readily fit into corners and pivots for mopping around and under furniture. The mop head is machine washable, but should be replaced with a refill mop head about every three months.
Will You Be Cleaning Electronics?
Microfiber cleaning cloths are also perfect for delicate applications such as cleaning electronics. That’s because they are non-abrasive so they won’t scratch fragile surfaces.
All those microfiber fingers are ideal for cleaning the crevices around the buttons and keys of a computer or cell phone—which are places where dirt and microbes can get trapped.
Best Microfiber Cleaning Cloth for Electronics: 3M Electronics Microfiber Cloth
This option is a pack of 20 super-thin microfiber cloths optimized for cleaning electronics. 3M
The best part of this pack of 20 microfiber cloths is that buying in bulk makes it simple and inexpensive to keep cleaning cloths in all the places you use electronic devices. Each microfiber cloth is 7 inches by 6.3 inches, making it just right for wiping smudges and smears off your screens, too.
Will You Be Cleaning Windows?
Microfiber cleaning cloths are ideal for cleaning glass surfaces. Those microscopic microfiber fingers, lift grime off the surface without smearing or smudging—and they don’t leave behind lint, like cotton and even paper wipes can.
For optimized window-cleaning performance, look for a package that includes separate microfiber towels: One for scrubbing off dirt and grime, and another for drying and polishing the surface for max shine. For smaller jobs, such as keeping the lenses of your glasses free of smudges, consider a package of smaller cleaning cloths you can fold up inside your glasses case.
Best Microfiber Cleaning Cloth for Glass: E Cloth Window Cleaning Pack
This two-pack includes a waffle-weave scrubbing microfiber cloth and a polishing cloth for tackling 99 percent of bacteria on glass. E Cloth
While a general purpose microfiber cloth will work on windows and other glass surfaces, this cloth pack includes a scrubbing waffle-weave cloth plus a polishing cloth for drying and buffing for a streak-free finish. They’re machine washable and designed to hold up for up to three years, or 300 washes.
Will You Be Cleaning Large Items or Surfaces?
An oversized microfiber cleaning cloth is ideal for cleaning large items such as shower doors and walls, cooktops and counters, and even vehicles and boats. Look for a cleaning towel that’s at least 15 inches square so you can tackle those big jobs efficiently.
Best Oversized Microfiber Cleaning Cloth: Streak Free Microfiber Magic Cloth
These large microfiber towels come in packs of 3, 6, or 10 so you always have cleaning tools ready. AERAI Group
Available in several package sizes, these cleaning cloths are 16 inches wide and 16 inches long. These can be washed with dishwashing liquid or tossed in the washing machine and should last for at least 5 years. These microfiber cleaning cloths are white, so be prepared to see more of the grime you clean off—which can be satisfying.
Save Money by Going Simple
All microfiber cleaning cloths rely on the same technology—those millions and billions of grime and microbe-lifting microfiber fingers. This is definitely one of those products where you can pick a specialized package if you want your cleaning tools optimized to the job, but for general cleaning, you won’t lose much performance by going with a budget-friendly basic microfiber option.
Best Budget Microfiber Cleaning Cloth: Aidea Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
These cleaning cloths come in a pack of 3 colors with a different texture on each side. Aidea
This pack of 24 cleaning cloths are each 12 inches by 16 inches and have subtle texture differences on the front and back. The set includes three colors so you can color-code to prevent cross-contamination, and they’ll cost you less than 50 cents each.
Best Microfiber Cleaning Cloth FAQ: people also ask
What is microfiber?
Microfiber is a high-tech textile covered in microscopic split plastic fiber fingers. Those fingers provide much more surface area, giving you more cloth to clean with compared to other cleaning cloths. Plus, those fibers have a subtle charge so they can pick up dirt and microbes and lock them into the fibers until you wash them away under the spigot.
How should I clean microfiber cloths?
You can clean microfiber cloths by simply tossing them in the washing machine. Check for specific instructions from the manufacturer of your product, but generally you should wash them on a normal cycle with water less than 100°F, then tumble dry on low or hang to dry. Ideally, wash microfiber in a separate load with only other microfiber. You should never use bleach or fabric softener with microfiber and, since it’s plastic, never iron it.
How long do microfiber towels last?
Eventually, microfiber towels wear out, and the fibers begin to lose their charge. It’s possible this can happen more quickly if you wash microfiber with some other textiles like cotton since the shed lint can damage the individual microfibers. In general, microfiber towels remain at peak effectiveness for about 500 washes.
A Final Word on Shopping for Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
When it comes to cleaning, microfiber technology takes scrubbing (and polishing) to the next level. Thanks to the structure of the microfiber, these cleaning tools remove dirt, grease, and up to 99 percent of microbes that can harm your health—and that’s without any soap or cleaning spray at all.