Are microfiber cloths worth the cost?

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Are micro fiber cloths worth the cost?

In my series on rags and how to save on paper towels, I was asked about microfiber cloths and if they save money.

I don’t really consider microfiber cloths "rags" because you have to buy them. I know a lot of people have had success with them. They aren’t bad, but to be honest I really like my diapers and flour sack towels better. Even though they say that microfiber rags never streak, I find that very often they do.

Plus at in some cases they don’t seem to absorb as well. I have a microfiber hair wrap and it doesn’t work near as well as a regular towel. I am a little confused about microfiber because they use it on furniture to repel stains and liquid so how can the same type of thing work in a rag? I don’t know the answer to that.

The main problem with them though is I have to baby them so much when I use them. If I use them to dust, I don’t want to put them in with my other clothes to wash. Even if I decide to wash microfiber cloths with my other things, I can’t put them in with my darks or lights because I use fabric softener in those loads. I don’t use softener in my whites, but I do use Clorox, so I can’t put them in with those. I don’t want to wash a load of 6-10 small rags every week. To me that is a waste, especially when my good old rags do the same thing and I can just toss them in with the whites or throw them out.

People talk about buying microfiber cloths to save the environment but look what manufacturing them is probably doing to the environment. Compare that to a rag you already have on hand that has already been used for something else and it saves you money. I have a feeling microfiber rags may end up being like bottled water. It was the rage and thought to be so much better for you for years but now they find that it is expensive and some people say the plastic is bad for you. Go figure.

I will keep using my good old rags, but if your microfiber rags work for you, keep using them.



photo by: newlivinghouston


  1. says

    I do not like the micro fibre cloths mainly because the feel of them. They just irritate my skin. So they sit there looking good.
    My cleaning lady loves them. She uses the ones I have and says they are the best thing on the planet.
    I guess it is a case of to each his own.
    I like terry cloth for most rags but I confess I do use a lot of paper towels.

  2. peg says

    I love my microfiber cloth’s
    I use them in a collage I have had no problem with them I know if you are using them for mirrors are windows put your water in a spay bottle and mist them wipe them with the microfiber cloth it will work better then geting the cloth wet I no if i get mine wet then wipe the mirrors off it will streak the window. they pick up hair really nice in bathrooms,
    I only use water to clean my windows and mirror, to wash mine I wash them in hot water mid dish soap in the sink and hang up it is easier that way

  3. says

    If some of you are on the fence about investing in micro fiber cloths because you think you will save on cleaning supplies which is what they advertise a lot, I just thought I would let you know you can do the same with just an old diaper, flour sack or something like that. I have never bought window cleaner. I have used it once in awhile just because I got it for free but most of the time I just use the dampen rag which I used to dry my bathroom fixtures to wipe down my windows and mirrors.

    I only use soapy water or vinegar mix for extra dirty outside windows but inside ones I just a dampen rag for those. I have in the past used a lightly dampen rag to dust my furniture but now I use something like Pledge just because I like the smell of it. So even though they say one of the main features of a micro fiber cloth is you don’t have to use cleaners, you don’t have to with the right kind of rag either.You may have to try a couple of different types of rags because the fabric is different but I have found a good quality diaper, flour sack work best.

    Once again if you love them go for it but I just wanted to let those of you who can’t afford them or are trying to be die hard savers you can do the same thing with a rag.

    • Pat says

      I have used a vinegar water mixture with the type of scraper you find at the gas station to wash my windows with an adequate result. However, my Amish neighbors told me instead of white vinegar to use a splash of rubbing alcohol. I am very pleased with the shinny, no streak windows using a minimum of effort!

      • says

        Alcohol does work great for windows. I use it on my faucets in the bath and kitchen too and for mirrors. When I go to do heavy duty window cleaning I use the recipe sometimes in Dining on a Dime of ours in which you mix ammonia and alcohol. Alcohol and ammonia are better for cutting grease and vinegar is good for getting rid of residue or things like hard water spots or mineral build up.

  4. Lucy says

    I like them for windows, mirrors, and dusting. We have a lot of electronic equipment and they work better than anything for dusting that. We have a lot of dust – on a dirt road and surrounded by tilled fields. They are quite a bit cheaper in the automotive department than in the housecleaning supply section. Also, they should not be washed with anything but other microfiber things, and like you said, no softener used in the rinse. I hate the way they catch on my rough skin in winter, but they don’t do that in summer. I figure that just shows what small particles they can pick up!

  5. Brenna says

    I found microfiber rags at Dollar General for $1 each a couple weeks ago. I have had a couple microfiber rags that I have used for about 5 years now, so I decided to buy a couple more. I really do like them. I don’t stress over washing them either. They go in with my regular wash, bleach, softener, etc. I haven’t noticed any diminished usefulness. I don’t use them to clean glass with generally, but I have discovered that they clean my stove and get the grease off just by wiping it down..I always wipe my stove down when I clean up the kitchen after meals…but still had a problem with grease splatters, etc on the backsplash and also around the knobs…These just wipe it right off…absolutely amazing. This being said, I’m not fanatical with them though…they do some jobs exceedingly well, and others not so well…but all in all worth the $1 each. Have a great day!!

  6. Lori says

    On the microfiber topic. I specifically love the ShamWow’s and not so much for cleaning but for soaking up spills on the carpets. They are absolutely terrific and do exactly like the infomercial shows. If you spill an entire drink on the carpet you put the cloth over it and stand on it until saturated, wring out and continue to until it’s all sopped up. It’s amazing to me that it will still pick up liquid when it’s wet but it’s like it actually does better when it is wet. I have bought 3 sets over the years since I first saw that infomercial and I look for them on sale at drug stores that sell infomercial products cause one time I found them on close out at Walgreens for $12.00. Normally sell for $20.00 so I was happy. It is a big box of them and they are large so $20.00 sounds like a lot but you get a lot for your money. I do find that there is a big difference in brand names because I’ve seen all sorts of “micro fiber” clothes and they are not all the same. So, if you aren’t happy with one brand, maybe try another.

    • says

      I had a sham wow for many years and loved it. It was really great on spills and you are right it did exactly what the infomercial says. They were a little different from the micro fiber cloths and they didn’t streak at all. I don’t hate micro fiber rags I just don’t like washing them with my clothes when they get so nasty dirty and can’t quite bring myself to run a whole load of water to do them separate. Plus my raggy rags are no work I just use them and toss them.

  7. Rose says

    I bought a few microfiber cloths and began dusting picture frames. Dust that had never come out of the smallest grooves–probably dust from the 60s, on the pictures I inherited from my grandmother–came off and the frames no longer had that tired-old-house look. So I tried some bookcases–again, they looked brand new. So I tried windows, walls, cabinets, my tile floor. Now I routinely do quick cleans of those areas with just a little water on microfiber cloths that I bought (yes, they are cheaper in the auto supply parts of the stores) and everything looks nearly new. I clean my stainless steel refrigerator with microfiber cloths, and they don’t scratch it. I have never felt that the microfiber cloths tear up my hands; in fact they leave my hands smoother. I don’t have to rub vigoroously when I clean; the small fibers just easily catch the dirt. Cotton fibers, I believe, are larger, and I think that’s why a cotton cloth works better with soap because the soap does the work of making the dirt separate from the surface it is clinging to. Now and then I do use soap and water and bleach just to disinfect, but I am using a lot less bleach and ammonia and soap overall than before. I do have one new job, which is running a separate laundry load of microfiber cloths. But I have not spilled bleach on my pants lately, which I used to do periodically, because I’m not using so much bleach during spot clean-ups! I run the microfiber clothes in a separate load because the cloths would otherwise stick to other types of fabrics and pick up their lint. Sometimes I bleach the microfiber cloths, though the labels say not to. Anyone know why microfiber should not be bleached? I especially use bleach when I have used the cloths to clean my shower, so that I keep the cloths mildew free.

  8. Vinnie says

    I’ve read that using fabric softener, especially the sheets, will make your microfiber cloths not absorb as well. The microfiber used for furniture is treated differently to resist water and stains. Microfiber just refers to a specific way of spinning out very fine synthetic fibers, it doesn’t even specify whether the fiber is nylon, polyester or some other synthetic or a blend and those fine fibers can be combined into fabric in many different ways to create fabrics with different properties. So different microfiber fabrics can have very different properties.

    Sort of like velvet, satin, denim, flannel, broadcloth and terry cloth can all be made out of cotton, but they are very different fabrics.

    Microfiber cloths shouldn’t be bleached for the same reason all synthetics shouldn’t be bleached — chlorine bleach breaks down the synthetic fibers and reduces the life of the cloth.

    I like the microfiber cloths for certain scrubbing tasks — they’ll take off the faint ghost of dry erase messages past that board cleaner and a regular cloth sometimes won’t, and clean off the nasty greasy film that builds up on appliances and the kitchen walls with less elbow grease than a regular rag. But lint sticks to them something fierce (picking it out piece by piece is a pain) and I’m not overly fond of the texture, either. I only have 3-4, so handwashing is not a problem.

    I do use the microfiber hair wraps — or rather one rectangular microfiber “athletic towel” and a hair wrap, because my hair is quite long. I tie the towel by the top corners around the pony tail at about neck height and then use the hair wrap “backwards” — worn like a hood with the tail down my back over the towel. Then I just twist and wrap the whole thing like a bun and secure the tail of the towel in the elastic loop of the hair wrap. If you twist enough the two pieces stay together very nicely. I find this works a lot better than a towel for me.

    • says

      Fabric softener keeps cottons from absorbing too so I don’t use it on things like my cleaning rags. I do use it on my towels because I have tried them with and without and can tell no difference at at all. I can tell a difference in the type of fiber though. Most things man made like nylon, polyester or microfiber do not absorb as well. I have had both a cotton terry cloth head wrap and a microfiber head wrap. The microfiber did nothing to absorb the water. I had to take it off and dry my hair with a towel where the terry cloth absorbed it beautifully.

      If you think about it this makes sense. Man made are “plastic like” so if you pour water on a sheet of plastic what happens compare that to pour the same water on a bunch of cotton balls. Now that is not to say I don’t ever use man made fibers and things, I do all the time. I just think about what I am using it for to decide which would work best for the job at hand.

  9. Jan says

    I just discovered this site today and am enjoying all this advice! I do use a couple of microsoft mitts that work great for general dusting, but like Jill, mainly use rags that I already have, some for repeat use and some as disposables. I do use paper towels mainly for my toilets because I’m a germ freak and love that I can just toss the papers. I only use two from top to bottom! To me, that’s a dirty job worthy of tossing. Anyway, I squeegee my bathroom mirrors, no cloth to wash or toss. No streaks or chemicals. After a warm shower, the mirrors are all steamed up. I just squeegee. Perfect, every time!

  10. says


    I have to disagree with you here. Norwex Microfiber cloths outperform dollar store microfiber and my good old rags by many miles, and believe me, I used to love to recycle old diapers, dish towels, etc and avoid paper towels completely.

    The trick is to wash microfiber cloths separately from other laundry so they don’t pick up any lint.

    I personally think one VERY easy way to save on laundry expense and promote health is to NOT buy fabric softener to begin with.

    I also like knowing that the Norwex cloths pick up bacteria and trap it in the fiber. When I was taking care of my ill Father recently, I didn’t feel safe or like the counters were sanitized until I used my Norwex cloths.

  11. Kim says

    I too have given up paper towels, except for the occasional nasty clean-up job. I bought 24 micro fiber towels for $4 at Sam’s Club. I don’t use fabric softener any more for any of my laundry, but use vinegar instead, and I only wash them by themselves. I have a basket on top of the washer. When a rag gets soiled I toss it into the basket until I have enough for a load.

  12. Sandi P says

    I usually use the microfiber cloths in our shop. I was totally amazed when I used a damp microfiber to get ALL the greasy mechanics fingermarks off the airplanes. Airplane windows and paints are sensitive to many common cleaners, so being able to use just water is sensational. Besides that I use them to clean computer screens, and to clean a mirrored closet in the dining room. Other than that I use old towels and rags, even in the shop. I also pick up old sheets and blankets at the thrift store to use as covers and pads in the shop.

  13. Charlie says

    I too have a great number of micro-fibre cloths (Norwex). At first I thought they were the cat’s meow but hate that I have to wash them all separately and can’t use bleach to clean the stains off them. I also find that the microfibre smells bad pretty quickly compared to anything else I use. I didn’t think they performed as well after just a few washes. I ‘save’ them for my eye glasses & computer screens.

  14. Stephanie says

    hi, i am reading these comments with interest. i have onoly just recently “found” Norwex clothes. i have alwasys used just rags etc, or even cheap m/f clothes from the shop. Norwex do not compare! also now i have been taught how and why they work, i understand how to use them. we recently house sat and i cleaned teh whole large farm house with one cloth, washing a few times over the days i was cleaning. but really, a rinse off (under running water to use the water pressure to release the dirt) was all that was needed. if i had a really grotty area, i used a bit of detergent. but that was only for teh loks of the cloth, it was still working fine! on that one large house alone i saved 2 bottles of window cleaner – or a whole bottle of vinegar and i got off stains i had not got off in the three years of housesitting there! WITH EASE!

    M/f clothes (and they vary WIDELY in quality) have a thickness rating (called dtex, or deneir) of 0.1 (below which it becomes nano-fibre) to 1.0 at which point it stops being a microfibre. NOrwex are 0.13 so very fine. i have not seen the dtex of other brands – cant find it on the web.

    because of the fineness of the cloth (and in Norwex case, the silver antibacterial)i know i have properly cleaned the surface and i find it takes ALOT longer for it to get dirty again, hence less cleaning! also i know i have removed the bacteria- and i cant see that! it takes longer to get dirty because i have removed more dirt resuude- less for bacteria and dirt to settle on. i too have cleaned things with one wipe that have not looked properly clean since i bought them!

    fabric softener is not good as it coats the firbres, as it does to all fibres, i dont really like that on my clothes. i wash my fibres with my lights or darks, just not towels, but dish detergent will work if you want. if you use fabric softener by mistake there is a way to remove it from the fibres.

    hey, i hate cleaning but i love my new cleaning clothes, i spend less time cleaning, have to do it less often, get the house cleaner and dont have to touch chemicals – which make me dizzy!, and reduce our bacterial load. for me it is a ‘no-brainer’ – I am a convert!

    cheers, s.

  15. clare says

    I have a commercial cleaning service and i use micro fiber rags are the only thing I use to clean with. They are great on windows….cleans fingerprints like nothing else…just use damp and no need for any kind of cleaning chemicals.
    The only down side is you can’t put them in the dryer. High heat destroys their absorbency. I just hang them or lay them out to dry….or take them to work and use them damp.

    I wouldn’t use anything else.

  16. Jeanne says

    Excellent points! When I was growing up my mother used old t-shirts and old Halloween costumes, which she had made from flannel. I well remember those rags!

  17. says

    I personally do not use them because I do not like the fell of them. They just do not feel comfortable in my hands…plus I have really dry skin, & they stick to my hands like they were glued on there.

    Are they the best thing since sliced bread?
    Maybe for some, yes… but for me, I’d rather spend the money on something else that is more important.

    TY Ms.Jillian for posting this & all the others. 8 )

  18. Sheri says

    I bought microfiber rags to use as diapers! I got them at Costco in automotive area. They worked really well. They kept the bottom drier than the cotton. But I also used homemade flannel diapers. I threw them all together for the wash with no problem. I used oxiclean and sunshine for my bleach. They are still being used as rags in my house six years later. I think they were a dollar each. That’s the right price for my diapers.

    There are different kinds of micro fibers! I have had a few other kinds of microfiber rags migrate into my house that didn’t work as well as the ones I bought. That might account for all the different opinions… The ones that don’t work as well are the ones that stick to themselves. Perhaps they were dried on too high of heat?

    Anyway, that’s my experience.

  19. Loulou says

    Microfiber cloths are great for washing your car, because they are much softer on the paint.

    Microfiber is recommended to use on prescription and non prescription glasses with a cleaner of course(do not use Windex on glasses). Just like any rag, you have to wash and rinse well for it not to leave streaks.

  20. Sharon says

    Microfibre cloths, I have a stack of these from my partners cleaning business – worth feeling them if you can before you buy them they should feel soft & absorbent not scratchy, plasticy or staticy (not a word but the best I can do), some are more absorbent than other, depends on the ratio of fibres when they are made. Big thing is they are an abrasive cloth, so be warned, they can strip minute amounts of protective coatings off whatever you are cleaning – so I don’t recommend them for cars, antiques or anything you really treasure and will have in 10 years +. Is it worth buying the expensive ones – no, not really, they are no more resistant to stains etc than any of the others. When mine are just about had it, they are used with straight vinegar to remove oil stains off the bbq, oven etc, and are then thrown away. To wash, I rinse all the cloths in the tub & then I use a half cap or dishwashing detergent & half cap of washing liquid on a cold wash, then add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse water, then re rinse in cold water again. You can leave them to soak in this solution overnight but do not add any other fabrics in when washing them as they collect lint from other things.

  21. UK resident says

    Guess what. Hope none of my friends read this but I was interested in microfiber beach towels for holidays so we didn’t add weight to the already usually full cases.
    These are quite expensive and if ordered online you there’s added postage.
    I looked at buying by the yard and making my own: Still expensive.
    I bought lots of packs of microfiber cleaning cloths and sewed them together and made four very large towels for the price of ONE ready made towel.(Six cloths to each towel).
    Yes, it took a while to sew by machine but they are great and for the beach are not just good enough, they are BRILLIANT!
    I know they don’t really dry your skin but make a good cover-up and remove most of the water which is good enough in a warm climate.

  22. Free says

    I hate microfiber. My mom had purchased some microfiber dish towels a few years back, and the first time I dried her dishes for her with them I had to ask for a “real” towel, because all the microfiber did wash push the water around. I’ve been given a few different microfiber cloths, and the only thing I’ve found them to be good at is picking up lint. I know a lot of people love them, but if you’re trying to be frugal, save your money and use rags. If you really want some, ask people to get them for you as gifts.

    • says

      I hate microfiber too. I can’t figure out why most people do like them except maybe what they were using before (like paper towels or certain types of rags) were really bad so when they compared them to microfiber they seemed better. I like old rags personally. Certain ones for certain things. Love old diapers – I treasure old diapers. Not the ones that are prefolded. I love flour sack towels for polishing in the kitchen. I use old t shirts for dust rags and cleaning the floor. Tawra found some bar tenders towels at a garage sale for $.o5 and got us a bunch and they do pretty good too. Since she got about 50 or more of them for that I don’t think I will ever wear those out before I die.

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