How Does the ‘Microfiber’ Part of Cleaning Cloths Really Work?

You’ve undoubtedly heard about microfiber cleaning cloths. There are products out there that clean your kitchen counter, wipe your dishes and utensils off, and clean most flat surfaces including your mobile devices. They seem to be one of the best ways to keep your cell phone and tablet clean without ruining the screen with abrasive chemicals and wipes. But have you wondered why microfiber cloths work so well and why they are such a growing market?

Smaller Is Better!

This is one case where smaller really is better. The small ‘micro’ fibers in microfiber cloth do a better job of cleaning away dirt and grime. The reason is that the tiny microfibers can attach themselves to tiny particles of dirt. It’s really that simple. The smaller the micro fibers and cleaning pockets within the cloth, the more tiny specs of dirt and grime can be wipes away.

Larger cloth fibers will brush right over these smaller particles because they simply can’t pick them up. Ever drop your keys between the seats in your car and need to enlist some tiny kid-sized hands to retrieve them?

It’s the same principle, almost. Microfibers can get into those small spaces and grab the small dust and dirt particles that other standard cotton or polyester cloths leave behind.

Use the Force

The dust particles are attracted to the fibers by forces of attraction called van der Waals forces, named after their discoverer Johannes Diderik van der Waals, a Nobel-prize winning Dutch chemist.

In short the principle lays out how particles and atoms can be attracted to each other on a quantum level even without formally bonding.

The van der Waals forces are the same reason geckos can attach themselves to a ceiling, millions of tiny hairs, so many surface points that the lightweight gecko is held in place magnetically. Microfibers work in the same way. Millions of microfibers in a cloth use their combined van der Waals forces to pick up the dirt, dust, and other gross stuff you don’t want on your phone screen. This leaves an immaculate screen, not simply the appearance of a clean screen.

Many many people have wondered about the reason microfiber has blown up as a go to material for cleaning devices and flat surfaces. Now you know why. It is not only leveraging millions of touch points to collect millions of germs and particles, it’s also leveraging physics by magnetically attracting the dirt and grime.

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