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Tips for Cleaning With Water

by | Sep 29, 2017 | Commercial Office Cleaning Tips

As janitorial services technologies continue to improve, cleaning many non-porous surfaces can now be cleaned with just water and microfiber.

As environmental pressures continue to grow from the consumer and prospective employee base, organizations of all kinds have had to review the manner in which they clean their workplaces, and the content of the chemicals commonly used for the purpose.

This has led to a fringe movement of cleaning with just water, or water and microfiber, to fully eliminate human exposure to toxic chemicals, as well as their introduction into the air and water.

There is some validity to the science behind cleaning with just water.

According to Paul Lewandowski, Equipment Product Manager of Betco Chemical Corporation;

We’ve conducted numerous tests comparing natural tap water, modified tap water and cleaning chemicals. In some instances, all three performed similarly on light inoganic soils. However, the testing showed a significant difference when cleaning organic soils such as fats, oils and greases.

When Cleaning With Water Only Works — And When It Doesn’t

Implementing microfiber cloths, in addition to water, has demonstrable effects on the removal of dirt and bacteria from non-porous surfaces.

According to CleanLink;

According to product manufacturers, microfiber that is treated with antimicrobial agents that resist microorganisms will remove 99 percent of bacteria from non-porous surfaces without the use of chemicals. That bacteria is trapped in the cloth until laundering, when it is washed away.

Magic Of Cleaning With Microfiber

The Pros and Cons of Cleaning With Just Water

Water alone can be effective at cleaning dirt and soil on many surfaces.

According to a paper published by the University of Maryland;

Called the universal solvent, water is the basis for all surface cleaners. Water is a good solvent—by itself it has the ability to clean many soiled surfaces. Cleaning with water alone is the yardstick by which we measure the effect of cleaning chemicals.

Effective Cleaning and Sanitizing Procedures

Unfortunately, water by itself is ineffective at penetrating oil, grease, and bacterial biofilm, down to the surface, and requires a surfactant to lower the surface tension of soils; effectively breaking them up to be rinsed away, or absorbed by a cloth or mop.

The Pros and Cons of Cleaning With Just Water and Microfiber

Microfiber cloths, by themselves, due to the ‘pockets’ that are formed in their construction, can be quite effective at removing dry or wet soil from multiple surfaces, especially glass, countertops, bathroom surfaces, and kitchen appliances.

With the right chemical coating, microfiber, combined with water, can function as a sanitizer; effectively removing microbial matter and trapping it in its pockets, where an antibiotic agent, typically Triclosan, kills the microbe, which is removed from the cloth during the laundering cycle.

Unfortunately, microfiber has a few issues that prevent it from acting as a standalone, all-encompassing solution:

  • The cloth is made from synthetic fiber, and so is not truly a sustainable product, and;
  • It is not 99.999% effective at killing bacteria, disqualifying it as an EPA certified disinfectant.

However, microfiber’s benefits have far outweighed its drawbacks.

  • Reports indicate microfiber reduces water usage by as much as 20%.
  • Microfiber significantly improves worker and building occupant health by reducing the volume of toxic chemicals required in the cleaning process.
  • If properly cared for, microfiber will outlast and outperform cloth, or cotton counterparts.

All of that translates into a significant financial saving’s that is multiplied several times over once worker and occupant health and safety, as well as absenteeism is factored in.

References and Resources


While cleaning with just plain tap water may seem appealing for schools or businesses determined to eliminate the exposure to, or dumping of, toxic chemical cleaners, studies have shown that water alone is insufficient at breaking up and clearing away oil and grease.

Combining water with microfiber is significantly more efficient, especially when sanitizing or disinfecting lightly soiled surfaces.

The combination of water, a neutral, biodegradable, and non-toxic cleaning product, with a microfiber cloth, is just as effective, if not more so, than cleaning with bleach and other hazardous chemicals.

Green cleaning solvents, paired with microfiber and water combine to create a ‘best of both worlds’ solution that allows for the safe disinfection of surfaces, without harming the environment or endangering building occupants.

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