Microfiber fabric is often used for athletic wear, such as cycling jerseys, because the microfiber material wicks moisture (perspiration) away from the body, keeping the wearer cool and dry. Microfiber is also very elastic, making it suitable for undergarments.
However, the US Marine Corps banned synthetic fabrics for wear with uniforms while deployed to combat environments in 2006, because of instances where Marines’ undergarments were melting under extreme heat caused by IED (improvised explosive device) blasts, causing more damage to the skin. They released a “fit for duty” version authorized earlier that same year.
Microfiber is used to make many accessories that traditionally have been made from leather: wallets, handbags, backpacks, book covers, shoes, cell phone cases, and coin purses. Microfiber fabric is lightweight, durable, and somewhat water repellent, so it makes a good substitute.
Another advantage of fabric (compared to leather) is that fabric can be coated with various finishes or can be treated with antibacterial chemicals. Fabric can also be printed with various designs, embroidered with colored thread, or heat-embossed to create interesting textures.
Textiles for cleaning
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 fibers. A cross section of the split microfiber fabric under high magnification would look like an asterisk.
The split fibers and the size of the individual filaments 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.
Like a traditional cleaning cloth, you use them dry for dusting and very slightly wet for more general cleaning, but you’ll need to experiment! The first time you use one, force of habit will probably make you soak it with water and add loads of soap as well—both of which will reduce the cloth’s effectiveness. I find the best way to use these cloths is with as little water as possible. If you’re cleaning very dirty windows, for example, use a standard cloth and soapy water to wash all the dirt off first. Then rinse them thoroughly with clean water and use a rubber squeegee to get them almost dry, and let them dry in the air for just a little longer. At this point, with hardly any water remaining on the glass, polish over with your microfiber cloth—and you’ll be amazed at the smear-free, sparkling finish. If your windows aren’t too dirty to start with, simply use the microfiber cloth by itself with a little water. You can use microfiber cloths to clean virtually any hard surface. Try them on your bathroom or kitchen surfaces and you’ll be amazed at the results.