Cleaning Equipment Part 1: Cloths

Feb 3, 2020

General purpose microfibre cloths by Exel

Microfibre glass polishing cloths

Not all cleaning equipment is created equal. Some cloths are about as useful as a chocolate teapot, or a chocolate dishcloth for that matter. Here we bring you an overview of the best cloths for domestic cleaning.

How did we ever cope before microfibre was invented? A good microfibre cloth will leave your surfaces streak-free, lint-free, dust-free and dry.

When purchasing new cloths, look for those with a polyamide content of at least 12% and a polyester content of 80-88%. There are loads of 100% polyester microfibre cloths on the market. While they appear to be big, soft and fluffy, they’re not at all absorbent. They’re okay for dry dusting, but not much good for uses that involve water or moisture. The cloths with polyamide have superior absorbency and, due to the high polyester content, are also quick to dry.

One of our favourite brands is Exel. These lovely big, polyamide/polyester cloths (40 cm x 40 cm) are available on Amazon at £6 for a 10 pack or £11 for a 20 pack. They’re called Exel Magic Cleaning Cloths because they apparently have an antibacterial substance integrated into the weave of the cloth. I have no idea how effective they are for sanitizing surfaces (I use them both with and without liquid antibacterial products). However, if you wish to cut down on the quantity of chemicals you use around the home, these Excel cloths are your green cleaning friends. Moreover, the fact that they are “magic” doesn’t seem to make them more expensive than similar cloths without the antibacterial additive.

The fluffy, towel-like microfibre cloths such as the Exel brand are good all-rounders, but for glass and other shiny surfaces we recommend specialist glass cloths. These have a similar fibre composition to the fluffy cloths, but have a glossier appearance (see the photo above right). HIDMD brand cloths are currently £8.89 for a 6 pack (Amazon), while various brands of ultra-smooth glass cloths (e.g. Jeeblas or Mr Siga) are slightly more expensive.

I use the specialist glass cloths for drying off and buffing surfaces such as mirrors, taps, granite worktops and glossy kitchen cupboards. I have both the bumpy surfaces ones (the green cloth in the photo above right) and the ultra-smooth ones (the blue cloth in the photo) in my cleaning kit. The bumpy cloths work best when slightly damp, as when too dry they’ll leave behind tiny bits of fibre that can be seen in strong light. The ultra-smooth cloths leave no bits behind, so will leave your mirrors gleaming, and can even be used dry to wipe off random smears. The glass cloths perform best when damp, not wet. Have several cloths handy and grab a fresh one whenever your cloth becomes wet or dirty.

The only time I use a cotton cloth is when I’m dusting furniture with polish. I like a large, soft 100% cotton duster. Since many of those I’ve previously purchased have proven to be too small or thin, I most often opt for an old pure cotton T-shirt for polishing. Simply cut off the ribbing around the neck and remove any tags that might scratch your furniture.

We do have disposable wipes and white roll in our cleaning kits. They are indispensable when you have something really grubby to deal with – a thick layer of dust or a dollop of mud, for example. It’s far more effective to wipe of the bulk of the dirt with your disposable thing before tackling the rest with your cloth or mop. You might not believe in using wipes, as they are not particularly environmentally friendly. However, these days you can buy relatively eco-friendly wipes, such as Dettol Multi Surface Wipes made with 100% biodegradable plant fibres (£2.50 from Tesco).

No matter what type of cloth you use, it’s important to keep it hygienic. Ideally, we’d put our cloths aside to be washed after every use. However, this might not be entirely practical. Changing your kitchen cloth every day is acceptable, so long as it’s rinsed out in hot soapy water and hung to dry between uses. A radiator or heated towel rail will ensure it dries quickly. Remember, microbes love moisture. A sopping wet cloth in a warm room, with or without added nutrients from food spills, is like the Hilton for Staphylococcus…

Watch this space for Cleaning Equipment Part 2, to get the nitty gritty on vacuums and other small home appliances.