This blog just popped into my head, since it’s something I’ve been doing for years and I figured some of you might benefit from it, too. Use microfiber towels to clean your homes, friends! If they’re good enough for your prized clear coat, then they’re also good enough to dust off your coffee table.
If you’ve ever detailed a car, then you’ll know microfiber towels are an absolutely essential tool. You use them when drying, scratch removing, using compound, and wiping off excess wax. They’re sort of magical.
In reality, it’s science, not magic. Microfiber towels are exactly what they sound like: towels that are comprised of many more and much smaller fibers than typical cleaning cloths. This allows the towel to attach to even the smallest specs of dirt. And they don’t leave fibers of their own behind.
This Explain That Stuff article highlights the scientific properties:
If forces were visible, you’d be able to see that there are adhesive forces (the forces of attraction) between microfibers and dirt. As you may have learned in school chemistry, these forces are called van der Waals forces after their discoverer, Nobel-prize winning Dutch chemist Johannes Diderik van der Waals (1837–1923). (Van der Waals forces explain why geckos can stick themselves to ceilings using zillions of tiny hairs on their toes.) Although there is only a microscopic amount of van der Waals force between one microfiber and any given dirt particle, remember that there are millions of microfibers in a cloth, so the overall sticking effect is magnified dramatically.
You can feel the static force in action when you run your hand across a microfiber towel. It feels like a tugging on the small imperfections across your skin.
This also means microfiber towels must be thoroughly cleaned after they are used, but we’ll get to that in a second.
In the past, I’ve tried dusting with feather dusters (lol) and other specialized dusters and their refills. I’ve tried using different vacuum attachments and rags and sprays. None of these methods have worked as well or as affordably as a dry microfiber towel.
Microfiber towels are reusable and they do a superb job of picking up dust. Other rags just sort of push it around, which sucks and is annoying. A microfiber will pick up pretty much everything in one or two passes. And you don’t have to use sprays or cleaners, which often contain harmful chemicals and fumes. If you’re really trying to rub away a particularly stubborn bit of dirt, a gentle mixture of soap and water will loosen it so the towel can come in and sweep the whole thing up.
Here’s a quick demonstration with some dust I found behind the sound bar below my TV.
I started dusting with microfiber towels in 2013 and I haven’t gone back since.
They’re also cheap to buy! They’re available in the automotive section of almost any Walmart, Target, or dollar store, as well as on Amazon. You can get 50 of them for about $25. That pack will probably last you for life and you don’t have to feel guilty anymore about those disposable duster refills ending up in a landfill somewhere—or worse, in the ocean where a starfish can choke on it.
Here are some more before and after photos.
Washing those towels is where you have to pay attention. The good news is you can absolutely wash them in your washing machine. All you have to remember, according to Autogeek, is not to use fabric softener, heat, or bleach.
I repeat: No fabric softener. No heat. No bleach.
Fabric softener and bleach will eradicate that static charge that makes microfiber towels so good at their job. Heat melts the fibers. So, wash them in the machine with detergent (preferably liquid detergent because powder detergents can leave residue) and tumble dry on low heat or no heat at all.
You also might want to keep your house-microfiber towels separate from your car-microfiber towels. I do. I don’t want car cleaning compounds mixing with my furniture, and I don’t want accidental dust from my furniture scratching my clear coat.
If you’re stuck inside during this weird time we’re all living through right now and you’re compulsively cleaning every surface (as I am), save yourself a little trouble and get some microfiber towels.