Lens Cleaning Cloth Material
What is Microfibre?
The science behind microfibre cloths
Microfibre cloths are an attractive choice for consumers looking to clean their lenses, electronics, glassware, mirrors, stainless steel and other surfaces, and have become increasingly popular in recent years. But what is the science behind microfibre, and why is it replacing traditional cleaning products for some consumers?
What is Microfibre?
Microfibre is a synthetic fibre, typically extremely thin fibres of polyester, polypropylene, or polyamide and was created in Sweden in the 1980s. The fibres are typically 1/50th to 1/10th the thickness of an average human hair. These tiny fibres have an increased surface area that allows dirt and dust to be captured. They also have a polar charge which attracts and keeps the dust when the cloth is swept against a surface such as glass. This is also why microfibre cloths don’t leave smudge marks and perfect as a lens cleaning cloth material.
There are typically two types of microfibre, split and non-split. Split fibre is common in microfibre cleaning cloths, whereas non-split is more common in comfort items such as blankets or clothing.
There are also different ways of assembling microfibre. For example, terry towel microfibre is the most common type and is suited to scrubbing, dusting, mopping and absorbing. This is because the weave of fibre lends itself to high absorbency, however, they are more likely to leave streaks than waffle weave type microfibre, or suede and glass microfibre. Suede and Glass microfibre has an extremely tight weave that isn’t as absorbent but is great at creating a streak-free shine on the glass.
If you look at microfibre under a microscope, you will see it looks asterisk-shaped. The dirt and dust collect within the gaps of the asterisk-shaped fibre. By comparison, regular fibre is rounder and more cylindrical in shape.
Effectiveness of Microfibre
A study by The University of California, Davis Medical Center compared the effectiveness of a microfibre mop versus the effectiveness of a cotton loop mop at picking up bacteria. The cotton-loop mop reduced bacteria on the floors by 30%, whereas the microfibre mop reduced bacteria on the floors by 99%.
Many microfibre cloths claim to be antibacterial, and there is some science behind this, but perhaps not in the way you would think. They don’t attack or fight bacteria as chemicals would. However, their extremely small size means they can pick up anything their size or bigger, and most bacteria is larger than microfibre meaning it is effective at picking it up. You can then clean the microfibre, preferably with hot water in order to kill the bacteria. It is important to note that cloths are not anti-viral since viruses are several magnitudes smaller than both microfibre and even the smallest bacteria. Most bacteria are 1–5 microns in size, similar to microfibre, but viruses tend to be smaller than 0.5 microns.
Microfibre cloths are exceptionally effective at cleaning glass surfaces in a multitude of scenarios as the fibres trap the dirt and grease particles, leaving a clean streak free finish. Traditional cloths often deposit large fibres and debris as they are carried across the surface of glassware, where it can create damage, particularly to coatings often applied to glass.