Are Microfiber Cloths Eco-Friendly?

What do you think of microfiber cloths? What exactly are they?

With some caveats—the fibers are not natural, and stick with high quality microfiber because not all microfiber cloths are created equal—I think they are great. And the color coding is fun, helpful and brings some sense to one’s cleaning closet!

Microfiber cloths are eco-friendly because they reduce water usage (both while cleaning and in avoided laundry loads), the use of cleaning products and the use of paper towels or other disposables, and they thoroughly remove dust, allergens, and bacteria. They also have a very long life span if you buy a high quality microfiber. The microfibers I use are durable (2,000 wear cycles), have a high “scrub” factor (#36 abrasiveness), can last for 1,000 wash cycles, and have a 14,000 ml/m absorbency. A thousand wash cycles is a lot of cleaning, over a lot of years! They certainly last a lot longer than traditional rags and mops; one study found a microfiber mop to have a lifespan 10 times that of a traditional mop!

Here’s how microfibers work: They are a blend of microscopic polyester and polyamide (nylon) fibers that are split during manufacturing to create microscopic “hooks” which act as claws that scrape up and hold dust, dirt and grime. They are 1/16 the thickness of a human hair and can hold six times their weight in water! Importantly, the fibers have a positive charge. They attract dust, which has a negative charge and hold them in their network of fibers.

What makes microfiber clothes NOT ecofriendly is that the fibers used are polyester and nylon (polyamide), which are made from petroleum; a non-renewable and non-biodegradable resource. (However, the size of the cloths is not that large and, as mentioned, you might only need to buy a few in your lifetime.) Nylon and polyester are made from petrochemicals, whose production creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that’s 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And there is evidence to suggest that the production of polyester and nylon can be toxic and hormone-disrupting to textile workers. It is unclear if the fabric used in microfiber clothes would be large enough to have toxic effects on the end user.

I love the microfiber color code system. Using different colors prevents cross contamination, and quickly identifies use for different surface areas. There are usually four colors: green, blue, yellow and pink. You decide which color to use where. Blue for the bathroom, green for the living room, yellow for the kitchen, pink for the kid’s rooms?

17 comments

Paul R Calnan Sr
Paul Calnan Sr5 years ago

Polyester and polyamide should be avoided in clothing.

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Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

High-quality microfibers like e-cloth have completely changed the cleaning game. Because it removes more than 99% of bacteria with only water, there is no longer any need to use chemical cleaners to clean. I like e-cloth because it's super-cheap compared to competitors and the research on the effectiveness of e-cloth is credible and clear. I also like that they do an e-cloth vs Norwex (and other competitors) chart so you can see at a glance the info. on each company.

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Chris Ray
Chris R6 years ago

Thanks!~

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Chris Ray
Chris R6 years ago

Thanks!~

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Past Member 8 years ago

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Patsy C.
Patricia Simpson10 years ago

If you were watching Oprah in the past year, you may have witnessed her overwhelming endorsement of the Get Clean kit, a major non-toxic collection of cleaning products. In that kit ( and sold separately) are 3 MICROCLOTH items: Cleaning, Window Cloth and Dish Sponge. Retail, each is less than $5, or with a member ship, the cost is less than $4. These MICRO products, plus all the other cleaning & laundry products are fabulous in performance and cost saving. If interested, go to www.shaklee.net/pattandjimsimpson
We're Partners in Health!

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Tahnee W.
Tahnee Warner10 years ago

Where can you purchase these and are they expensive?

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