All about microfiber

this is in part related to
by@clean and i guess a continuation or expansion of it.
i have been confused about microfiber for some time. i heard of norwex cloths being able to clean windows spot free with only water years ago but had no first hand exposure to them. my first exposure was to the blue and green microfiber sold at costco a few years ago. these cloths were absolutely useless and i ended up giving them to our dog as chew toys-he loves them and i wish i could still get them for him.
this year i purchased some unger microfiber pads and a scrim.
the unger pads are not very absorbent and must be used with a minimum of solution or they just leave the window wet.
the scrim is quite absorbent.
this past weekend i decided i wanted to get the real scoop on microfober, why some work better and some not at all and the real goods on how to care for them. i spent several hours on line searching many websites including some i felt were filled with baseless personal opinion right thru to manufacturer sights with actual hard data.
below are my conclusions, opinions and what i believe at this time to be facts about microfiber.

factors determining quality/suitability:

the blend of polyester and polymides(nylon) determines the softness and plushness of the cloth, more polymide equals more plush more soft.

for the type of cleaning we do the fibres should be split.

the size of the fibres is HUUUUUGE (apply donald trump voice here) well actually the effect the fiber size is huge the fibers themselves are very small. some may be 1/5th the size of human hair to be considered “micro” BUT some are as small as 1/200th of a human hair and these are capable or removing not only dirt but also oil grease even bacteria!

gsm or grams per square meter is a pretty good indication of the number of fibers (fiber length could also affect gsm but longer fibers are also obvious to the eye. a weight of 600 gsm with have more absorbancy and dirt grabbing ability than one of 200 gsm (assuming the fibers are small enough and the polyester/polymide(nylon) blend is appropriate)

the knit or weave is the final factor and is more difficult to measure without testing for a specific purpose.

washing with dish soap or laundry is fine, (do not include other materials to the same load as the microfiber will try to grab lint from the other fabrics)
hot water is fine, hot water is good.
extra rinse is good hot even better.
the dryer is fine and does NOT need to be set to low or fluff (do not include other materials to the same load as the microfiber will try to grab lint from the other fabrics)
BOILING is fine BOILING is good. boiling for ten minutes will get rid of soap residue, grease, oil etc and allows the fibers to relax, swell and release all the crap they are trying to hold onto.

no dryclean (as if we would!!!) NO bleach, No fabric softener (if you realize your detergent has fabric softener in it or you there was a bounce sheet already in the dryer wash again properly or boil.

so when you see a microfiber for 1.50 and for 15.00 you can bet the specs are not the same but it would sure be nice if manufacturers and re sellers had to list the specs wouldn’t it?

microfiber PADS have additional material like possibly foam or velcro. these additional materials can change the care. for example the unger cleaning pad has a max wash temp of 140f while the unger wash pad has a max wash temp of 190f so boiling is out.



That’s some good info. I’ve pretty much gone back to using surgical towels.Every time we hire someone new towels seem to just disappear so I figure it’s not really worth the investment for my situation. We do use them to detail pole work though.

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the Costco ones are labeled “disposable”

so much for boiling lol

that sure would get them clean!

thanks for sharing your research

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Good research.

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Ken, we must be on the same wave length cause the last few days I’ve been researching what makes a fabric absorbent. I found an interesting article that explained in fairly simple terms the science behind it being able to hold a lot of liquid vs quickly absorbing it, and the two seem to have an inverse relationship, generally. The company that wrote the article developed a hybrid material with both properties they named zorb, which I’m very interested in.

I haven’t tried microfiber yet, but have been considering it. My main reason for this is that i find the scrim, while great, doesn’t absorb quickly enough in many instances. I’m finding myself making two or even three passes per edge when detailing, which is wasting a lot of time. Now it could be that my technique is flawed and I’m leaving too much water, but many times the seals keep releasing more after the first wipe. Also possible is that my wiping technique is bad, but then again, how much can one possibly do wrong?

Either way, a fabric that absorbs much liquid and very quickly would be ideal. Something like a “super rag”. I contacted the manufacturer and might do a test in the future, which i will report on if it’s successful.


Daniel, from an earlier post you made that your customers were delighted after only one side being cleaned it sounds like you are connecting with a lot of first time cleans. If so, that is great!
I wonder if those first timecleans have worse seals and your cleaning efforts are releasing more gunk from the seals? Perhaps on subsequent cleans there won’t be so much residue and water releases from the seals? I’m just speculating, I don’t really know.

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re scrim not absorbing fast enough:
one thing you could try is getting a little more material in the edge and slowing your pull a bit.
another thing you could try is dampening the scrim. to use it damp it must be just slightly damp, this can be difficult to get right but try using a pump sprayer to mist it. this breaks the surface tension on the fibres.
you could also “pretail”. wipe both sides and the top edge before you squeegee. when you squeegee dive bomb the edges and top first then fan the middle. this eliminates cloth marks along the edges as well.
also no cloth will solve the bleeding problem :confounded:

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i can’t find much tech data on zorb fabric but it appears to be made from natural fibers which limits the manipulation possible in manufacturing. the shape a split micro fiber is the major difference separating it from natural fibers.
the website says it can absorb up to 10x it’s weight in water which puts it a bit ahead of GOOD microfibers which can hold up to 8x.
the biggest difference i see is that it seems to be designed for the main purpose of fast absorbtion whereas a GOOD microfibre also has superior cleaning abilty.
it is interesting though thanks for sharing it.

I sure hope so. It’s almost like noone around here had ever heard of window cleaning because every job i get the windows haven’t been cleaned in forever (sometimes like a decade or more!).

These are some fantastic tips. Thanks, Ken!

You are a pioneer breaking new ground! Almost all of my WC jobs are first time cleans too, people are genuinely surprised about reflections and other results.

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