Microfiber is no longer a “buzz word” that is taking the cleaning world by storm – it's a basic cleaning tool that most cleaning companies are now using every day. However many companies simply replace their old cotton rags with microfiber cloths without ever training their employees on how to properly use and care for them.
How to choose the right microfiber cloth for the job
There are different grades of microfiber for different types of tasks. Most manufacturers will carry at least 3 different types of microfiber cloths. The 3 most common types are:
Heavy-duty microfiber cloths. Used for heavy-duty cleaning to remove deep soil and oils.
Medium grade microfibers. Used for dusting and medium-duty tasks like wiping countertops and sinks.
Microfiber cloths that have a suede-like texture are used for glass, mirrors and polished surfaces. These cloths are usually much thinner than the heavy-duty or medium grade cloths, and are more tightly woven.
When shopping for microfiber cloths, visit your local janitorial supplier, as they're more likely to carry high-quality microfiber cloths. Be cautious when buying from your local grocery store or “big box” store, as they tend to use lower grade fibers and fillers.
You can usually tell a good quality microfiber cloth by doing a couple tests. First, run the cloth across your hand. Does it seem to “catch”? This is caused by the dense fibers and indicates quality microfiber. Next, put a small dab of hand lotion on a mirror. Then wipe your cloth to see how many passes it takes to remove the lotion. A good quality microfiber cloth will remove the lotion in only one or two passes.
Train your employees on proper use
Microfibers come in a variety of colors and there is a good reason for this. Cross contamination is a big concern for cleaning companies, and rightly so. You certainly wouldn't want your employees to clean a toilet and then use that same cloth to clean the countertops and sinks. By color-coding your cleaning cloths and then training your employees, you can avoid cross contamination in your clients' homes.
It is important to train your employees on your color-coding system so they always use the right cloth for the task at hand. It is also important to train them on how to use the cloth. First fold the cloth in half, and then in half again. The cloth should be big enough to fit your entire hand. As one side gets soiled, turn it over. When the second side gets soiled, open up the cloth and fold it so you can use the clean side. When 4 sides of the cloth are soiled, open up the cloth to expose the clean side; then re-fold, and use the clean side. When using this method of folding and re-folding, you are training your employees to work more efficiently, plus the cloth will last longer.
How to care for microfiber cloths
When washing microfiber cloths, it is best to wash and dry them separately from other laundry items such as cotton cloths, towels or clothing. If you don't wash and dry them separately, they will pull the lint off these items and become so loaded that it may make them useless. Also avoid using bleach and fabric softener. Bleach will damage the fibers, and fabric softener will reduce the static charge, which is an important part of what makes microfiber work so well.
When cleaning microfiber, use about half the amount of laundry detergent you would normally use for a load of laundry. Microfibers release soil very easily when washed, so more is not better in this case – it's simply a waste of detergent. It is recommended that your water temperature not exceed 200 degrees. Microfibers can air dry or you can use a machine to dry them as long as you use a low heat setting and do not add a fabric softener sheet.
Whether you've made the switch to microfibers or are just thinking about it, now is the time to put in writing your company's procedures for using and caring for microfiber cleaning cloths. Then use those procedures to train your employees on the proper use and care. You'll discover increased efficiency and productivity with your cleaning staff, reduced cross-contamination, as well as happy customers.
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Jean and Steve Hanson have been in the cleaning industry since the 1980's. They've owned two successful cleaning companies and now enjoy helping others start and grow their cleaning business. They are co-founders of www.TheJanitorialStore.com and www.MyHouseCleaningBiz.com