It's not a sponge, and it's not a spray.
In case you haven't heard, your kitchen is basically a disgusting petri dish—even if you do your dishes and brush up spills daily.
“In most cases, it’s safer to make a salad on a toilet seat than it is to make one on a cutting board. People disinfect their toilet seats all the time, but they don’t realize that they really need to pay attention in the kitchen too,” said Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Dangerous bacteria like E.coli and salmonella can be found in up to 10 percent of kitchens—but it turns out there's a better way clean besides spraying harsh chemicals all over your home and ineffectually wiping at them with a paper towel.
Kitchen spills, meet your new nemesis: the next time you have a nasty spill, or want to scrub down your kitchen counters, pick up a pack of microfiber cloths. While regular dish towels spread bacteria all over the countertops, microfiber cloths are made of fine fiber strands that allow them to more effectively absorb water. Though not all microfiber cloths are anti-microbial, they are able to remove bacteria (such as salmonella, E.coli, and Campylobacter) and other debris from kitchen surfaces with ease. In fact, microfiber cloths can remove 99% of bacteria with just water. No chemicals needed!
Researchers from The University of North Carolina's Medical School Department of Hospital Epidemiology conducted a study where they disinfected hospital rooms with a traditional cotton mop and a microfiber mop. The bacteria culture taken after a traditional wet mop showed only a 32% reduction of microbes, whereas the microfiber mop cleaning showed a 95% reduction.
Not all microfiber is equal!
With microfiber, you get what you pay for. Bargain microfiber has fewer fibers, around 50,000 per square inch. Since it’s the fibers that do the work, bargain cloths do not clean as well as quality cloths, nor do they last as long — only about 50 washings. Try a quality microfiber cloths like e-cloth - it’s the gold standard in microfiber. It has 3.1 million fibers per square inch and lasts for 300 washings!
How does microfiber work?
With millions of fibers, microfiber lifts and holds dirt, grease, grime, liquids and bacteria. These fibers include both positive-charged polyester fibers and negative-charged nylon fibers that actually attract and pull up whatever is on the surface you’re cleaning.
Types of microfiber products.
What most people don’t realize is that these cloths are durable and versatile enough to clean a variety of surfaces, making them the ideal replacement for your grimy ol’ sponge. Some microfiber manufacturers have developed products with fibers specifically designed for each task—scrubbing floors, dusting and cleaning hard surfaces throughout the house, from wood floors to tile to glass to stainless steel.
How to use microfiber:
- To make the most of microfiber cleaning cloths, use only one section of the cloth at a time. So, fold the cloth into half, then in half again. This will give you eight surfaces for cleaning — four on each side.
- For dusting, leave the cloth dry. For other chores, slightly dampen the cloth, then wipe surfaces clean.
- When the cloth starts to leave behind dirt or lint, or if you’ve used it a few minutes, re-fold to a fresh section. Continue until the entire cloth has been used or the cleaning chore is complete.
The best part? You can throw them into your washing machine and reuse them hundreds of times.
- After each use: Rinse the microfiber cloth with warm to hot water (or whichever water temperature is recommended on the care label) for 10-15 seconds to flush out dirt. If microfiber is especially grimy, you may want to rinse it until the water runs clear. Once rinsed, the cloth is ready to use again.
- Once a week: Microfiber cloths that are used daily should be machine-washed every week. Rinse them first to flush dirt from the fibers, then toss them into the washer with your regular wash. Do not use bleach (it will damage fibers) or fabric softener (it will clog fibers). (For cloths that aren’t used that often, wash them when they look dirty or leave behind traces of lint or dust.)
So, if you haven’t been cleaning with microfiber cloths, you should be!