7 Top Differences Between Microfiber and Cotton

What happens if you don’t clean your house often enough? Things will start to accumulate. Not just dust, but dirt and other particles as well. For one thing, it’s not uncommon for soil to enter the house through the soles of your shoes. Pet hair can build up on the floor as well if you have a dog or cat. That’s why it’s important to mop. You want to get rid of all this “gunk” before it becomes a problem. The last thing that you want is to put your health at risk!

The same thing goes for tables and countertops. If anything, they’re not as clean as they look. For example, there might be tiny food crumbs. This is especially true for the kitchen as that’s where you’ll be handling most of your food. Given that, it only makes sense to clean regularly. After all, cross-contamination is a real thing. You wouldn't want to prepare food on a contaminated surface, would you?

Microfiber vs Cotton Cloths: What Should You Clean With?

As far as the floor goes, you want to clean with a microfiber mop (assuming that you don’t have carpet). That’s the easiest and most straightforward way of removing debris. Of course, you’ll want to use a cleaner as well. Depending on the type of mop that you have, you might also be able to clean other surfaces as well such as walls and furniture. For example, microfiber mops are known for their versatility. Cotton mops, in contrast, are more for just the floor.

In terms of countertops, a cloth of sorts is probably the best option—that way, you can easily wipe around different fixtures. They’re also easy to rinse and wring out, which is a crucial step when you’re cleaning and wiping. So then the question becomes, "what kind of cloth should I use?". As you might be aware, there are dozens of different types out there. Some are made from natural fibers whereas others are made from manmade material. While they both work per se, they do have their differences.

For the purposes of this article, we'll be comparing two popular materials that are often used in cleaning—microfiber and cotton. How are they different? Which one is better for what? How are they made? These are some of the questions that we'll be answering below. If you want to learn more, be sure to read the rest of the post!

What is Microfiber?

Microfiber is a type of material that’s woven from synthetic fibers. More specifically, it’s made of polyester or polyamide (sometimes a combination of both). What makes it stands out from other fabrics? Its fibers are extremely tiny. In fact, they’re even finer than silk! Ultimately, what that means is that each cloth is made of hundreds of thousands of fibers. To put things in perspective, there are about 200,000 fibers per square inch.

microfiber cloth

This creates a lot of surface area, which makes it work that much better. Put it simply, it’s much more capable of holding onto dirt and dust; the same thing goes for liquids aka it's very absorbent

How is Microfiber Material Made?

Microfiber fabric is made by forcing plastics (typically polyester or polyamide) through a tiny pipe). From there, heat is applied to weave them together. These fibers are then split apart. If anything, that’s what makes them so special. If you looked at a cross-section under the microscope, each fiber would resemble an asterisk. Ultimately, it’s the grooves on the sides that allow the material to trap debris so well.

Once the fibers are split, they’re woven together. From there, they're dyed different colors.

Benefits of Microfiber

Microfiber cloths are replacing conventional cloths—and for good reason. They have many benefits over other materials. Here’s what you need to know.

1. You Can Use It With Plain Water

Microfiber cloths are different from traditional cloths in that they work great with just plain water. This has to do with the fact that the fibers are split—it allows them to trap and pick up debris. It’s almost like having tiny hands grabbing at the particles. This means that you won’t have to use as many chemicals, which is better for both you and the environment.

2. They Naturally Attract Dirt and Debris

Microfiber cloths are positively charged. This allows them to naturally attract negatively-charged particles such as dirt, soil, and dust. In a way, it’s almost like having a magnet do the work for you. The fabric will automatically grab onto any particles that are on the cleaning surface. From there, you can easily rinse it off with water.

3. Microfiber Dries Super Quickly

drying microfiber cloth

Microfiber towels dry extremely quickly. Ultimately, this has to do with the fact that they’re made from synthetic fibers. You won’t have to waste time waiting for it to dry. This makes it that much more hygienic. Why? Germs and bacteria thrive in moist environments. Given how fast they dry, they won’t have an opportunity to multiply on the fabric. So you won’t have to worry about cleaning with a contaminated cloth!

4. They're Very Absorbent

Microfiber cloths are much more absorbent than regular cloths. As a matter of fact, they can absorb up to 8 times their weight! This makes them ideal for spills and other liquid messes. It also means that they work great with water and cleaning solution.

5. They Are Great At Removing Bacteria

Microfiber is unique in that it’s capable of removing a significant amount of bacteria from surfaces. In fact, it can remove up to 99% of all microbes—all you have to use is water. While other fabrics can be used to capture germs, it doesn’t work nearly as well.

Drawbacks of Microfiber Fabric

Despite its benefits, however, microfiber fabric does have a few drawbacks.

1. It's Flammable

For one thing, the fabric is flammable. What’s more, is that it can emit toxic gases when it’s burning. Given that, it’s important that you don’t use it near open flames (cotton towels might be a better choice for the stove). The last thing that you want is to expose yourself to harmful substances that can affect your health.

2. They're Not the Best For the Environment

Microfiber is essentially made from plastics. Considering that, it’s easy to see why it’s not the best for the environment. For one thing, it’ll likely end up sitting at the landfill for many years after being put in the trash. There’s also a chance that it can release microplastics into the soils and waters.

3. They Attract Static Electricity

Microfiber material tends to attract static electricity, especially during the dry, winter months. In other words, be prepared for shocks!

What is Cotton?

Cotton is a natural fiber that’s derived from the cotton plant. One of the most commonly used types of fabrics in the world, it can be used for a variety of things from clothing to home decor. Of course, it's also used for cleaning purposes.

cotton cloth

How is Cotton Material Made?

The first step involves removing the leaves from the cotton plants. From there, they’re put into a machine that separates the seeds; dirt is also removed during this process. Sent to a textile production facility, the cotton fibers are then processed into long strands, which are spun to create yarn. Afterward, they’re died and woven into different textiles.

Benefits of Cotton

Cotton has a relatively long history; it's been used for thousands of years. Here are some of the reasons why it's often used for towels and cloths.

1. It's Strong and Durable

Cotton is known for its strength and durability. In other words, it’ll last you a long time. As you can imagine, that makes it great for cleaning—you won’t have to replace your towels nearly as quickly. On top of that, the colors won’t fade away as fast.

2. It's Naturally Odor Free

Cotton is naturally odor-free—that is, it doesn’t retain smells. In other words, you won’t have to worry about your towel picking up various scents. That doesn’t mean that it won’t get smelly, though. After all, there’s always a chance of bacteria growth, which would result in a funky odor.

3. It's Low Maintenance

Washing - Microfiber and Cotton

Cotton requires very little care. All you have to do is wash it regularly. The best part is that you can just throw them into the washing machine. Even with stains, you can easily get them out with a bit of soap. Keep in mind, however, that they can take a bit of time to dry, especially if the fabric is on the thick side.

4. It's Super Versatile

Cotton fabric is super versatile—you can pretty much use it for anything. Aside from cloths and towels, it’s also great for clothing. Why? It allows your skin to “breathe”, which keeps you cool during hot days. If anything, that’s the main reason why it’s the ideal fabric of choice for clothes.

Drawbacks of Cotton Fabric

Here are some of the main disadvantages of cotton fabric.

1. They're Prone to Shrinking

Cotton fabric is prone to shrinking if exposed to heat. That’s why it’s so important to use cold water when you’re washing your towels. Just something to keep in mind if you plan on using them. Fortunately, it's not that big of a problem if you're using them for cleaning (as opposed to clothing).

2. They Retain Water

Unlike microfiber, which dries quickly, cotton tends to retain water. Even if you wring it out, chances are, there will still be quite an amount leftover. Over time, this can attract bacteria, which can cause your towel or cloth to develop a funky odor.

3. Colors Tend to Fade Easily

Cotton can be dyed, just like microfiber. With that said, it’s much more likely to fade—especially if washed with hot water.

Differences Between Microfiber and Cotton

As you can see, both fabrics have their own advantages. For your convenience, we’ve put together a comparison chart below.

Differences Between Microfiber and Cotton
Microfiber Cotton
Capable of removing bacteria with just plain water Has to be used with a cleaner
Dries quickly, which makes it resistant to bacteria growth Can take a relatively long time to dry depending on the thickness of the fabric
Has a high surface area Has average surface area
Naturally attracts dirt and debris due to its positive charge Does not naturally attract dirt and debris
Resistant to lint shedding Can leave lint
Can be a bit of an investment at the beginning Relatively affordable as it's cheap to produce
Doesn't require as much cleaner Requires more cleaner than microfiber