Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.6 Supplies

5.6.0 Microfiber Cloths and Mops Used for Cleaning

Content was last modified on 1/3/2023.

Microfiber cloths are preferred over cotton cloths and mop heads for cleaning in early care and education (ECE) programs because microfiber absorbs more dirt and microorganisms than cotton.1

ECE programs can follow best practices for using microfiber cleaning products by:

  • Using separate cloths and mops for different areas of the ECE program so germs don’t transfer from one area to another.
  • Folding the cloth in half and then half again. This will give you 8 surfaces for cleaning. Begin by using 1 section of the cloth at a time. Repeat until you’ve used each section or are done cleaning.
  • Using microfiber cloths and mops without cleaning chemicals. For example:
    • Dusting with a dry cloth to allow static electricity to attract dust.
    • Cleaning mirrors or glass with a damp microfiber cloth or a spray bottle with water.
    • Cleaning sticky or greasy surfaces with a damp cloth.
  • Never double-dip microfiber cleaning cloths and mops into cleaning solutions and then into disinfectant solutions. Clean the surface first, then use a different cloth or mop to disinfect.
  • Using a charging bucket system for microfiber mop heads. This makes it easier to change to a fresh mop head and reduces cross-contamination.

Programs should clean microfiber cloths and mop heads by:

  • Using a separate laundry basket for microfiber cloths and mop heads.
  • Washing microfiber cloths after each use.
    • Washing only with other microfiber cloths (washing with other types of fabric can ruin the fibers).
    • Washing microfiber cloths in warm water with mild detergent. For cloths or mops that you have used to disinfect a surface, use the hot water setting and a non-chlorine bleach product.2
  • Never use fabric softener or dryer sheets (softeners clog the spaces in the fibers, ruining the cloth).
  • Avoid chlorine-based disinfectant products (bleach) that can damage the fibers.
  • Air drying or using a no-heat dryer setting.

Cleaning methods have changed over time. Cloths with fewer fibers don’t clean as well, leaving dirt, detergent, and water on the surface. ECE programs should not use sponges because they get contaminated with bacteria and are difficult to clean. Dry dusting with cotton cloths or paper towels often moves the dust somewhere else. Dust can have harmful chemicals and heavy metals.3

Microfiber cloths are very good at cleaning on their own. Microfibers are positively charged, which attracts negatively charged dust and dirt particles, so they’re a good alternative to chemical cleaning products. Using less harmful cleaning chemicals is good for the environment and human health, and it saves money. Microfiber cloths also dry fast, so there’s less chance for bacteria growth if you don’t immediately put them in the laundry.

Studies have shown that microfiber cloths transfer fewer germs from surface to surface than cotton cloths.4 Microfiber mops are better at removing more germs from a surface without a disinfectant than a cotton mop with a disinfectant.5


Microfiber is a special fabric made of synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon fibers. These super-fine fibers are very good at cleaning, even without chemical cleaning products. They have a positive electrostatic charge that makes them attract dirt and germs. The microfibers can also get into cracks and small places. Microfiber mops are much lighter than cotton mops and can help to avoid neck and back injuries from heavy, water-soaked cotton mops. Microfiber cloths attract moisture and can hold up to 8 times their weight in water. When washed correctly, microfiber cloths will last for 100-500 wash cycles. For more information on microfiber, visit What’s So Great About Microfiber?

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Routine Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting
Appendix J: Selection and Use of a Cleaning, Sanitizing or Disinfecting Product
Appendix K: Routine Schedule for Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting
Appendix W: Sample Food Service Cleaning Schedule
Appendix L: Cleaning Up Body Fluids
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Environmental cleaning supplies and equipment: best practices for environmental cleaning in healthcare facilities: in RLS. Web site. Reviewed April 21, 2020. Accessed September 27, 2022.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Environmental cleaning in resource-limited settings: best practices for environmental cleaning in healthcare facilities: in RLS. Web site. Reviewed September 12, 2022. Accessed September 27, 2022
  3. Dodson RE, Perovich LJ, Covaci A, et al. After the PBDE phase-out: a broad suite of flame retardants in repeat house dust samples from California. Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Dec 18;46(24):13056-13066. doi: 10.1021/es303879n. Published November 28, 2012. Accessed September 27, 2022.
  4. Trajtman AN, Manickam K, Alfa MJ. Microfiber cloths reduce the transfer of Clostridium difficile spores to environmental surfaces compared with cotton cloths. Am J Infect Control. 2015 Jul 1;43(7):686-689. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2015.03.002. Published April 20, 2015. Accessed September 27, 2022

  5. Rutala WA, Gergen MF, Weber DJ. Microbiologic evaluation of microfiber mops for surface disinfection. Am J Infect Control. 35(9):569-573. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2007.02.009. Published November 2007. Accessed September 27, 2022.


Content was last modified on 1/3/2023.