Spar-Klean Science – The Science Behind Microfiber Cloths


As you all might recall, I have been trying to reduce the chemicals I buy, reduce the amount of money I spend at the same time as enjoying the whole process of making my own products.  I am focusing on the kitchen first and the last time I posted about my home-made endeavors it was to share our very successful washing up liquid.  This is still going strong, although I interspersed it with Ecover when I need something which cuts through a heavier grease.

Over the past few weeks I have been trying out various recipes for home-made spray to use on the sides, cabinets and cooker.  I really didn’t find any of them to my liking.  I was about to give up when, whilst shopping one Saturday, I noticed that some ecloths were on sale, reduced from £9 per cloth to £4.50.  I had always been interested in trying them out, but at £9 a cloth it was way outside my budget.  As they were on offer and as I still hadn’t found a home-made spray I liked, I decided to try one out.  I have since bought two more.  They are seriously good.


For those of you who may not have heard about these ecloths, they are microfiber cloth designed to be used with just water, without the need for any type of detergent at all.

How Microfiber cloths work – the science

As the whole point of me researching cleaning products is to develop a cleaning curriculum for my children it is important for me to be able to explain why something works or doesn’t as the case may be.  E-cloths are made of tiny, tiny nylon and polyester microfibers, each 100 times thinner than a human hair.  Each tiny microfiber is a potential arm to collect up the dirt from your surfaces.  In normal cloths the fibers are far thicker and far fewer, which means picking up dirt and germs without the use of a detergent is a bit of a hit and miss affair.  With the decrease in size and corresponding increase in number of the microfibers per cm of cloth, the likelihood of every germ and piece of dirt being picked up increases drastically.

As each of the fibers are made of plastic they are able to attach themselves to each tiny piece of dirt using Van der Waals forces (natural adhesive forces between the tiny fibers and the specks of dirt).  Whilst these forces per microfiber are fairly week, en mass they are a force to be reckoned with (pun intended!).  Bacteria, dirt, germs and dust all are pulled up into the microfibers and trapped there until, rinsed with warm water, the fibers unfurl releasing the captured dirt.  Add this to the fact that they do not scratch any surfaces and it my humble opinion I have myself a winner.

And these cloths really work very, very well.  They also remain much cleaner than a regular cloth for much longer and are guaranteed for up to 300 washes.  I wash mine once a week in the washing machine, otherwise I simply rinse in warm water.  This means one cloth will last me 300 weeks or approximately 6 years.  Suddenly the £9 price tag doesn’t look so steep, working out at about £1.50 per year!  I have not needed any detergent in my kitchen apart from washing up liquid for the dishes.  Usually I would buy Ecover spray twice a month at a cost of £2.24 per bottle.  This works out at £4.50 per month, £54 per year and over the course of 6 years a whopping £324!  And this is just the kitchen detergent.  I will say it again, these cloths really, really do work with just water.  Go buy one, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Over the next while I will be looking into home-made window cleaners, trying out the e-cloth window pack and seeing if I can reduce our chemical load even more.