How to Wash Microfiber Towels and Cloths
Machine and hand-washing tips to keep microfiber soft
Microfiber cleaning cloths, towels, dust cloths, and mop heads can make the task of cleaning your home simple and easy. Containing millions of polyester and nylon fibers, these cloths are cleaning powerhouses that attract, lift, and grab grime better than regular cleaning rags. But to get the best results while cleaning, you must wash your microfiber cloths—either in the machine or by hand—separately from other laundered items in cold or warm water. Next, dry your microfiber towels and store them carefully so they don't attract lint and dust before the next cleaning job. Lastly, make sure to wash your microfiber towels in vinegar to remove any lingering smell.
Microfiber towels and cloths should be washed at least after every third use with a mild, unscented laundry detergent. If well cared for, a microfiber cloth can last for as many as 500 washings. It will begin to lose some of its effectiveness, after 150 washings, however.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Washing machine, sink, or basin
- Clothes dryer or drying rack
- Laundry soap or detergent, unscented
- Stain remover (optional)
- White vinegar (optional)
How to Wash Microfiber Towels in the Washing Machine
Separate Microfiber Items
Sort your microfiber cleaning cloths into a separate load, shaking them out over a trash bag as you go. The dirt on the cloths could transfer to other laundry items. The cloths will also attract the hair, dirt, dust, and lint from other items in the laundry. If you wash microfiber items with a regular load of laundry, all of the laundry may come out even more dirty than before.
Some people even like to separate their most heavily soiled microfiber cloths from those that are just lightly soiled.
If you want to remove stains on your cleaning cloths, now is the time to pre-treat them. You can use whatever stain remover you rely on for laundry, or just add a dab of extra laundry detergent to the stains and rinse them out before the wash cycle.
Choose the Water Temperature
Wash heavily-soiled cleaning cloths in warm water in the washing machine. Lightly soiled cloths can be washed in cold water.
Avoid hot water which may damage or break down the fibers over time.
Add Detergent and Run the Cycle
Add a small amount of detergent to the washing machine (1 to 2 teaspoons or half the amount you'd typically use for a comparable load), and then start the cycle. Excess soap may not rinse out and may build up on the fibers, reducing the cloth's ability to clean.
Dry the Cloths
Dry your microfiber cloths separately from other laundry to prevent hair and lint attraction. Microfiber dries fast, so it will be a short cycle. You can quickly air-dry the cloths on a rack, as well.
How to Wash Microfiber Towels by Hand
Fill the Sink
Fill your sink with warm water and 1 or 2 teaspoons of laundry detergent.
Add your microfiber towels and cloths (Do not add other clothing items!), and let them soak for a few minutes to absorb the water and detergent.
Agitate the Water
Use your hands to agitate the water and release the dirt from the towels. Rub the fibers together to tackle any tough stains.
Rinse your towels thoroughly under a stream of clean water. Squeeze out any remaining water before drying.
Dry the Towels
Machine dry your towels or cloths on low, or air dry them on a drying rack or outdoors in the sun.
What Is a Microfiber Cloth?
A microfiber cloth is a polyester and nylon textile in which the fibers are about 1/100 the diameter of a human hair, or about 1/20 the diameter of a silk strand. One square inch of a microfiber cloth has about 200,000 fibers, allowing these cloths to dislodge, attract, and remove the smallest particles. The split fibers have a positive electrical charge, which allows them to attract and hold negatively charged dust particles. As dust cloths, microfiber cloths are unsurpassed, but they also make excellent wet-cleaning cloths, cleaning effectively when just barely damp, without any soap or cleanser.
Treating Stains on Microfiber Cloths
If you're concerned about stains on a microfiber cleaning cloth, it's easy enough to use a commercial spot cleaner to remove them. Or, you can pretreat stains by applying a dab of detergent and scrubbing by hand before machine washing. But if the cloth is otherwise freshly laundered, discoloring stains do not affect its cleaning ability.
Care and Repair of Microfiber Cloths
As a microfiber cloth becomes worn with age and use, it may fray around the edges. Loose threads can be trimmed off. When a microfiber cloth begins to develop threadbare spots, though, it's time to discard it in favor of a new cloth.
Storing Microfiber Cloths
Because they are so good at attracting dust, you should fold, stack, and store microfiber cloths separately in a drawer or sealed container that protects them from the environment. Avoid keeping them with other cleaning cloths, as they can easily pick up lint.
Avoid storing microfiber cloths in a high-heat environment. Even too much direct sunlight can potentially melt and deform the synthetic fibers.
How Often to Wash Microfiber Cloths
Be sure to wash microfiber cleaning cloths after every use, for best results. Dirt and other particles stick to microfiber cloths. If you use a dirty microfiber item without washing it first, it can scratch and damage surfaces. Microfiber cloths may also smell bad after just one use because they are holding on to moisture in their tiny fibers that also trap bacteria.
Tips for Washing Microfiber Cloths
- When cleaning with a dampened microfiber cloth, it's generally advised not to add detergent or soap. The adhesive power of the fibers is enough to collect most types of dirt and grime. In fact, using soap actually reduces the effectiveness of microfiber cloths by clogging the spaces between fibers.
- Like any fabric item, a microfiber cloth may have a care tag. Make sure to read this, as it will indicate if the fabric must be hand-washed. This is not common for cleaning cloths, but some microfiber towels and other items may advise hand-washing.
- Never use anti-cling dryer sheets. Microfiber cloths attract dust through their own static clinginess, so dryer sheets can actually make them less effective.
- Never use bleach or fabric softener when washing microfiber cloths. Bleach can ruin the fibers, and fabric softener clogs the spaces between fibers, rendering the cloth useless for cleaning.
Should you wash microfiber towels after every use?
You should wash your microfiber towels after every third use, however, if they are wet or excessively soiled, washing them after each use is advisable.
How can I make my microfiber towels soft again?
Microfiber towels and cloths can become stiff after many uses due to soap and hard water residue. To make them soft again, add 1 cup of vinegar to your washing machine, and then run a short cycle. Then, run another short cycle using 1 cup of baking soda.
How do I remove lint from a microfiber cloth?
Newly cleaned microfiber cloths sometimes attract lint. This can be removed by vacuuming, or by using a sticky lint roller or masking tape.
Are microfiber cloths hazardous to the environment?
The environmental concern about microfiber cloths and other synthetic textiles is that they may shed microplastic fibers into the biosphere as they are routinely washed. But balancing this is the fact that microfiber cloths are generally used without the soaps and detergents that can also pose environmental hazards.
Do microfiber towels really remove bacteria and viruses?
Manufacturers of microfiber towels often make the claim that their products will attract and remove bacteria and some viruses from surfaces. This claim is true, as Independent studies have shown that split microfiber cloths, where the fibers are extremely fine (.37 micrometers), removes 98 percent of bacteria and 93 percent of viruses when used damp with no chemical cleaners. By comparison, ordinary cotton cleaning cloths will remove only 30 percent of bacteria and 23 percent of viruses from contaminated surfaces.
Understanding Microfiber's Role in Infection Prevention. Infection Control Today.