A microfiber cloth is a unique fabric that makes the end result of your cleaning task a spectacle of the highest quality. It wipes off dirt with utmost precision and even the most stubborn particles succumb to its cleaning power. Furniture listens to its cleaning prowess and responds with a speckless brightness. Tiles shine squeaky clean and glasses radiate a beautiful sparkle that attracts the eye and invites an impressed gasp.
A microfiber cloth has a large number of synthetic fibers split many times smaller than a human hair, which makes it a superior tool for cleaning and germ removal. For this reason, microfiber is a common and recommended tool in the cleaning industry, without which a cleaning task is deemed incomplete.
But did you know that, apart from its cleaning efficiency, microfiber plays a role in sustainability?
According to the Brundtland Report, 1987, sustainability is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, and mainly encompasses the economic, social and environmental domains. The concept of sustainability has gained popularity in the world’s leading industries and many FM companies are incorporating it into their business strategies.
Thus, in the economic perspective, a microfiber cloth gives you an edge over other cleaning materials to realize your water management solutions. As companies involve sustainability in their buying decisions, using microfiber is a right, sustainable practice as it cleans effectively without being reliant on too much water.
“Microfiber mops use 10 to 20 times less water than conventional mops,” says a 2002 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The study found that with cotton mops, staff used 105 gallons of water to clean 100 rooms and used only 5 gallons of water for the same 100 rooms when using microfiber. This is because the increased surface area of the fibers allow them to absorb up to 7 to 8 times their weight.
Additionally, microfiber saves you from unnecessary expenditure on cleaning detergents since its mopping system requires lesser use of cleaning chemicals. It removes and locks dirt particles inside its fibers leaving the surface spectacularly clean. When moved across a surface, the fibers generate a static electric charge that attracts dust and contains it instead of spreading it around or releasing it into the air.
Another economical aspect lies in its long life span and shrink resistance which helps to save thousands of paper towels and rolls. Microfiber can be used hundreds of times before it can be replaced, as opposed to cotton cloths, towels and rolls, which are prone to wear and tear. In situations where machinery such as scrubbing machines have to be used for cleaning, microfiber can be used as a suitable replacement to save potential energy costs. Evidently, microfiber can help you consistently produce an operational profit and sustain your activities.
The social aspect of sustainability includes ensuring the welfare of your staff and the community. A microfiber cloth enhances workplace health and safety owing to its effectiveness in removing dirt and germs which can cause sickness. Several studies have determined that microfiber is more effective at capturing microbes than other fabrics. The University of California Davis Medical Center compared the amount of bacteria picked up by a cotton-loop mop and by a microfiber mop. The cotton-loop mop reduced bacteria on the floors by 30%, whereas the microfiber mop reduced bacteria by 99%. Microfiber has also been shown to remove up to 93% of viruses from a contaminated surface, making it an effective tool in the ongoing fight against Coronavirus.
Again, notably, due to its highly absorbent nature, microfiber dries surfaces faster thereby reducing the potential of slipping and falling because of wet floors after mopping. Its outstanding cleaning effectiveness significantly reduces the cleaning duration and enables cleaners to clean 40% faster than they would with different fabrics. It is also hypoallergenic and does not create problems for those suffering from allergies. Moreover, microfiber equipment such as mops are lightweight, reducing the potential for worker injury from handling heavy cleaning equipment. The cloth is therefore instrumental in creating a safe, comfortable and productive work environment.
However, studies suggest that the microfiber cloth has a negative impact on the environment. Much as it reduces waste and eliminates the use of detergents which can have harmful effects on the environment, its existence is a threat to the same environment it protects. Microfiber fabric is made from plastic and the fibers are too small to be filtered out by waste treatment plants, so they easily find their way to the waste streams and end up in waterways and oceans where they are a threat to marine animals and the environment.
While the use of microfiber has been proven to be beneficial to the FM industry, focus should not be solely on profit-making but rather on balancing the economic, social and environmental aspects to achieve full sustainability. FM function has responsibility for the systems and processes that determine areas such as energy and utilities performance as well as waste management and recycling practices, and so it plays a crucial role in its implementation.