What is microfiber?
Microfiber is a synthetic yarn that is 0.2 denier. Denier is a measure of linear density and often used to describe of the size of a fiber or filament. Nine thousand meters of a one-denier fiber weighs one gram. Each fiber is approximately 1/20th the diameter of a strand of silk and 100 times finer than a human hair, this ultra fine thread is what gives microfiber its delicate touch and super soft feel. To put that size into perspective, if you were to think of a regulation basketball as the equivalent of the diameter of a human hair, an individual strand of microfiber would be smaller than an M&M chocolate candy!
Each individual strand has a star-like structure and all strands are virtually identical across the entire surface of a towel. If you could pull a fiber from one towel, and another from a different towel of similar quality and cross section them you’d likely not be able to tell them apart. This leads to a uniformly soft towel that performs the same regardless of fold or what portion is in contact with the surface. This is in stark contrast to the wild inconsistency of cotton fibers which can vary in shape and size from one strand to the next.
The star shaped structure on each strand allow microfiber to trap small particles, dirt, moisture and debris making them very effective for cleaning. Compared to the inconsistent, tube-like, shape of cotton which is absorbent, but not ideal for cleaning microfiber has a clear advantage.
In cleaning products, microfiber can be 100% polyester, or a blend of polyester and polyamide (nylon). It can be both a woven product or a non woven product, the latter most often used in limited use or disposable cloths. In the highest-quality fabrics for cleaning applications, the fiber is split during the manufacturing process to produce multi-stranded fibres. A cross section of the split microfiber fabric under high magnification would look like an asterisk. The split fibres and the size of the individual filaments working in conjunction with the spaces between them that make the cloths more effective than other fabrics for cleaning purposes. The structure traps and retains the dirt and also absorbs liquids.
Unlike cotton, microfiber leaves no lint, the exception being some micro suede blends, where the surface is mechanically processed to produce a soft plush feel.
For microfiber to be most effective as a cleaning product, especially for water-soluble soils and waxes, it should be a split microfiber. Non-split microfiber is little more than a very soft cloth. The main exception is for cloths used for facial cleansing and for the removal of skin oils, (sebum), sunscreens, and mosquito repellents from optical surfaces such as cameras, phones and eyeglasses where in higher-end proprietary woven, 100% polyester cloths using 2 µm filaments, will absorb these types of oils without smearing.