Sometimes simple is not only easier but safer. And cleaner. Take microfibers. The microfiber cloths and mops  we use here at Advanced Green Cleaning  (all of which we order from The Rag Lady)  not only improve cleaning performance, they’re cost effective, and faster and safer—for our customers and our staff.

Hospitals and professional cleaning companies in Europe have been using microfiber cloths for over 30 years, and they’ve only started to catch on here in the U.S. in the past ten years or so. Except for us here at Advanced Green Cleaning, where we’ve been using microfibers since we opened 7 years ago.

Composed of infinitesimally tiny strands that have been slivered into even tinier strands that are then woven into fabric, microfibers (the ingredients of which are 50 percent polyester and 50 percent polyamide—or, nylon) are usually less than one-tenth the thickness of a human hair and about 50 times lighter than the nylon fiber in a pair of stockings. That means they’re about the size of most bacteria but smaller than the average virus—which is why they’re so good at picking up bacteria though still challenged at getting rid of viruses.

Aside from their size making them so effective at cleaning, though, it’s the fact that there are millions of these fibers working together that allow them to pick up dirt and bacteria—as opposed to just moving it from here to there. Also, because these microfibers are plastic, they attach themselves to dirt courtesy of van der Waals’ forces—the adhesive forces named for the Nobel-prize-winning Dutch chemist Johannes van der Waals, and the same reason geckos, with the zillions of tiny hairs on their toes, stick to ceilings.

All these strands of fiber work as a team to suck up dirt particles. Especially when it’s dry, when the cloths generate static electricity, thereby attracting even more dust and dirt and holding onto it.

This is how we utilize all our microfiber cloths and mops at Advanced Green Cleaning. Most often dry. And rarely do we need any sort of cleaning product. (The cleaning products we do use we get from Green Bucket, all of which are certified green cleaning products.)  Which means we reduce our chemical intake by over 90 percent and are able to kill off 99.9 percent of bacteria. And after we’re done, we wash our microfiber materials thoroughly in hot water (the heat relaxes the fibers, allowing them to release all that dirt), getting rid of all the bacteria on the mop or cloth.

By leaving out all those icky detergents and cleaning agents, we not only cut out use of unwanted and unneeded chemicals, we also cut our cleaning time in half. Less time cleaning, less cost for prep and labor equals less cost for consumers. Also: Fewer chemicals, fewer allergens, and cleaner, healthier environments. Which is safer for you, safer for us.

Even better, studies have shown that chemical consumption is reduced by up to 95 percent when using microfiber materials, and water usage is reduced by as much as 90 percent. Plus, microfiber doesn’t need to be replaced as often—fewer paper products used, less waste overall, less garbage. Less stress on the environment.

As University of Arkansas microbiologist Kristen Gibson told the Wall Street Journal two years ago, “A damp microfiber cloth is a really good tool for removing microorganisms, including viruses and bacteria.” (In 2012, Gibson had published a study comparing the performances of different cleaning cloths without the use of chemical cleaners on food-preparation surfaces.) “There’s no reason to use a chemical every time you clean.”