Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Microfiber Cloths in the Dryer

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Microfiber cloths do the cleaning for you, but have you ever thought about how they should be cleaned?

Once you start cleaning with microfiber cloths, you never go back. And while they aren’t one of the pricier cleaning items that you have to purchase, there are still things you can (and should!) do to extend the life of your microfiber cloths. One of those things is not putting them in the dryer and giving them a little extra care when it comes to cleaning them. Here are 6 things you should always clean with microfiber cloths.

How do microfiber cloths work?

To know why you shouldn’t put microfiber cloths in the dryer, you first have to understand how they work. No, it’s not some magic force that causes these cloths to pick up every piece of dirt and dust on every surface you use them on. The idea of “many hands make light work” is the basic principle that makes microfiber cloths a cleaning dream. Unlike cotton or nylon cloths, which have large fibers, microfiber cloths have thousands of tiny fibers. In fact, there are 200,000 fibers in one square inch of a microfiber cloth. When you’re cleaning, all of those tiny fibers pick up and hold the dirt, dust, and liquid.

Besides the thousands of fibers, another aspect that makes these cloths so absorbant is the fact that the fibers are positively charged. The dirt and dust that sits on surfaces in your house is negatively charged, so the mess is attracted to the cloth like a magnet. The microfibers hold onto that dust and dirt until it is released when the cloth is rinsed out.

close up of blue microfiber textureJiggo_thekop/Getty Images

Why should you not put microfiber cloths in the dryer?

Drying your microfiber cloths on high heat will cause the fibers on the cloth to melt, making them ineffective the next time you try to trap and lock dirt and dust when you’re cleaning. Since they are also designed to pick up lint, they can become dirtier in the dryer by picking up any lint that was left behind from a previous wash. Here’s how to properly clean a microfiber couch.

How should you clean microfiber cloths?

Jennifer Druckamiller, director of product experience at microfiber company Norwex, suggests reusing your microfiber cloths a few times in between laundering. Simply rinse them under warm water after you’re done using them and hang them up to dry.

“When it’s time to lauder, wash microfiber cloths separately or with other lint-free items (microfiber is designed to grab and hold onto lint),” says Druckamiller. “Prevent the fibers from being coated in your washing machine by using a detergent that is free [of] fillers and additives.”

Use cold or warm (not hot) water in the washing machine and never use bleach or fabric softener. By not using hot water, you’ll remove the dirt and grime from the cloths while still keeping their electric charge.

Sometimes, it comes down to the type of cloth

If you’re in a rush to start cleaning (not sure when that would ever be) and you really need your microfiber cloths dried quickly, you can—cautiously—put them in the dryer on a low heat setting. Norwex microfiber cloths are actually able to be machine-dried at temperatures as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Druckamiller adds that putting them in the dryer (on low) can help to maximize their electrostatic charge, which will help them trap dirt, but she warns to never use dryer sheets because they can coat and damage the fibers, reducing their ability to clean.

Before washing and drying other brands of microfiber cloths, make sure to check their tag or website for proper cleaning instructions. Also, make sure that you never put any other clothes in the dryer with your cloths because they will pick up the lint off of the other fabrics.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for rd.com, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.