Why microfibre matters

The microfibre market has become flooded with products, so how do you differentiate the good from the bad?

The microfibre industry has grown significantly in recent years, with the market now flooded with microfibre cloths and mops from all around the world. But, how do you differentiate the good from the bad? Nora Potter, managing director of Tersano Australia and Greenspeed Australia, explains. 

There was a time when cleaning with old rags, oil impregnated cloths, and lots of chemicals was common practice. However, today image is everything. There’s nothing worse than being in a public space and seeing a cleaner using dirty old rags. A cleaner with professional tools gives the positive impression of both cleanliness and professionalism.

With that in mind the microfibre industry has grown and the market is now flooded with microfibre cloths and mops from all around the world. So, how do you differentiate between good quality microfibres opposed to poor quality microfibre? How do you know if a cloth is fit-for-purpose or has been manufactured in a manner that is damaging to the environment?


Microfibre for the purpose of cleaning first originated in the early 1990s in Sweden. Greenspeed was one of the pioneers of high quality microfibre technology for cleaning in Europe in 1994. It went to market with the slogan ‘Cleaning without Chemicals’. This caused outrage among the multinational chemical companies who accused Greenspeed of promoting lies. Cleaning without chemicals? That is not possible!

The breakthrough came about in 1998 when the Dutch institute of Cleaning Science (VSR) validated that with quality microfibre cloths it is possible to pick up oil, grease and dirt by just adding water. No chemicals required as the microfibre was so absorbent and effective.

As a result of the validation a newly accepted product line was born. The microfibre cleaning system. The multinational chemical companies had no choice but to jump on board, and they did almost immediately. Now microfibre is the preferred tool for many cleaning companies.

Thanks to the internet, international microfibre manufacturers were quickly able to gain access to the local cleaning industry. Unfortunately, some cleaning supply companies started to import poor quality microfibre products and heavy price wars began. The competition was fierce and quality was hard to control or even recognise just by sight. These cheap microfibre cloths became disposable consumable products, and were also not good for the environment.

Many of the cheaper microfibre products contain toxic dyes, formaldehyde in their composition and toxic waste water in their production process. The dollar savings for these companies are most important and no consideration for the environment is taken into account. Many companies outwardly promote their environmental policies and are unaware of the negative impact the poor quality cloths they use are creating.

Good quality vs poor quality microfibre

The only real way to know if microfibre is of optimum quality is to ask for lab tested third-party accreditation. But, here are some other tips to help sort the good from the bad:

  • Try the ‘push test’ – Place water on a table top and push the microfibre cloth towards it. Does the cloth absorb or push the water away? A good microfibre cloth is split to an optimum of 98 per cent and therefore very absorbent
  • Does your cloth stain or discolour? A good quality cloth will release stains on washing
  • Does it work without chemicals? No chemicals required with good quality microfibre as they have a strong capillary action, and;
  • Do you get at least 600 washes out of your microfibre products?

Microfibre products for cleaning was never created for use with chemicals as the chemicals clog up the fibres rendering them less effective. The optimally split microfibre creates a capillary action lifting dirt, oil and grime easily. A microfibre that is not split is no more than just a soft cloth.

This article was originally published in the September/October edition of INCLEAN magazine.

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