How difficult can choosing a new cleaning product really be? You wouldn’t think that there were actually too many factors to consider, but the reality is quite different. The cleaning market is a highly competitive one, and because of that there are a huge range of cleaners, mops, brooms, and cleaning accessories available to choose from, and faced with with such an overload of information about features, materials and uses, choosing any kind of cleaner can be a much harder choice to make than you would imagine.
If you’ve been looking for a new cleaner recently, you will undoubtedly have heard microfiber mentioned, probably on virtually every product you look at. Microfiber is a high tech material that has amazing absorbency, and a reputation for being long lasting and durable, so with the option of buying a mop that makes advantage of the superior cleaning qualities of microfiber, why would you choose anything else?
Microfiber Mops – The Pros and Cons
Well for a start, microfiber is not always the cheapest option available. Microfiber pads were originally developed by scientists in the 1970’s looking for a high tech material suitable for sports apparel, but they failed miserably, inventing instead a material that sucked up water like a thirsty camel, and as they were hoping to design swimwear for professional athletes at the time, they soon lost interest in microfiber, but the cleaning industry found a perfect use for it.
Microfibers are small, far smaller than a human hair in fact. The amount of microfibers within the average seven inch wide mop head, would stretch from California to Florida if laid end to end, and producing that kind of thing is always going to increase the manufacturing cost. But microfiber is a miracle when it comes to water absorption, able to hold up to eight times it’s own weight in water. Can you imagine being able to carry eight times your own weight in water? Unless you’re a superhero, it’s safe to say that Microfiber is a lot stronger than you,
The advantages of microfiber do not end there. The Micro fine fibers also have the advantage of gripping minute particles of dust, dirt and grime, and clinging on to them until the mop pad is cleaned, and that makes microfiber a great choice for any cleaning material, which is why you’ll see it promoted as a selling point on most top selling mops and cleaners on the market. Microfiber has now been improved on, and is generally constructed to be as durable as possible. Almost all microfiber mop pads are suitable for machine washing, and often can be washed hundreds of times before they need replacing.
So even though microfiber wasn’t originally made for cleaning purposes, in reality it IS made for cleaning, with huge advantages over most other materials. Cost wise it is more expensive than other materials, but a replacement microfiber pad for most top selling cleaning products costs anywhere from $8 to $15, and often less when bought in a multi-pack. Considering how durable most microfiber mop pads are, its a material that almost pays for itself if you can wash it hundreds of times, so why would you need anything else?
Sponge Mops – The Pros and Cons
Sponge Mops are a far less impressive material you would think, certainly not a high tech miracle that’s as strong as a superhero, but it does have one or two advantages over the impressive qualities of microfiber, particularly when it comes to everyday cleaning applications.
If you’ve got a microfiber mop head that’s soaking up water, it’s going to get fairly heavy quite quickly. If you’ve got an easy and convenient way to rinse it out while cleaning, that isn’t necessarily a big problem, but otherwise you’re going to be carrying a lot of weight around. Sponge however has reasonably good water absorbency, but not so much that your mop head is going to be overly difficult to move about.
You won’t often see a window cleaner that uses microfiber, precisely because the heavy weight of microfiber is a strain when cleaning high above your head, and sponge cleaners, due to their low density are easily squeezed dry. Almost all sponge cleaners on the market contain an automatic ‘squeegy’ or squeeze rinsing function, and that’s another area where sponge mops tend to have a slight advantage, they’re just easier to rinse out and start again.
Sponge may seem like a low tech alternative, but even sponge has received a few benefits from science in recent years. Polyvinyl Acetate, or PVA as it’s commonly known, is a synthetic material that was invented in 1912, but in recent years PVA sponges have become a common material used for mop heads. They absorb liquid at the same rate as everyday sponge, but they also have a few other benefits that can make them superior to microfiber with some cleaning applications.
For a start, PVA sponges offer far better water absorbency than traditional sponges, although they still don’t suck up as much as microfiber, but they are able to deal with fairly extreme temperatures, and with particularly hot temperatures, they can prove to be more durable than microfiber. Another significant advantage is that PVA is resistant to harsh chemicals, particularly bleach and ammonia based chemicals that are commonly found in most household cleaning solutions. So if you have to deal with the kind of spillages and greasy grime spots that require a strong chemical solution to get rid of, you might find that your durable microfiber pad is beginning to disintegrate before your PVA sponge is suffering any effects at all.
Even some traditional sponge mops offer greater dirt cleaning ability with a rougher surface that is designed to remove heavier grime without too much effort, while other sponge mop heads are smoother, designed mainly for picking up liquids while brushing over larger particles and debris.
Microfiber Mop vs Sponge Mops – The Relative Benefits of Both
So essentially, although microfiber is a superior cleaning material for cleaning efficiently when heavy dirt or grime is an issue, sponge mops do have their uses too. If you need a cleaner for removing chemical spillages, or you need high heat to clean, then sponge may prove to be just as durable as microfiber, and it will work out cheaper in the long run.
Always check to see if a sponge mop is PVA and chemical resistant. Some sponge cleaning products are advertised as synthetic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are resistant to certain chemicals, particularly for bleach, acids, and common spills that pet owners and parents of young children may encounter, such as urine etc.
So overall those are the relative benefits of Microfiber mops vs sponge mops. They both offer a high level of water absorbency, but the specific cleaning applications you need your cleaning product for, and what you’re going to be cleaning up with it, are both factors to consider when you’re choosing the perfect mop for you.