It has all the makings of a great conspiracy theory plus – more facts than we should ignore. Why are Americans obsessed with harmful cleaning chemicals when Microfiber is so much better and cheaper in the long run?

Microfiber cloths were introduced in Europe over 15 years ago and have been successfully cleaning homes all over that continent with mechanical scrubbing precision and no harmful chemicals.

BusinessWeek ran an article last week by Barbara Flanagan from ID Magazine explaining the bizarre overlooking of these microfiber miracles. It kind of blew my mind and left me wondering.

So here’s the case for using one of these Microfiber cloths or ‘shammies’ for mopping up beer spills, cleaning grease from the grill, disinfecting counters, etc.:

  • One of the greenest and most environmentally friendly products around
  • Reduces the need to buy expensive chemicals and replace them constantly
  • Doesn’t contain harsh chemicals odors that can pollute your air and make you sick
  • Ultra-sanitizing chemicals may one day lead to super-bugs immune to common cleaners
  • They come in plenty of gay colors to fulfill even your most flamboyant desires!

From the article, Judy Klein, director of retail cleaning for Newell Rubbermaid says

“It’s one of the greenest products out there. From the research we’ve done, microfiber cleans and removes dirt and bacteria with water alone. You do not need chemicals.”

But Americans are obsessed with chemicals. We have a chemical culture. For some reason, we need to get something wet, use bubbly chemicals and then rinse it off before considering it truly ‘clean’. Sounds kind of neurotic and OCD when you think about it.

True, Microfibers can remove germs, but they don’t actually disinfect to 99%. Flanagan responds:

Never mind that removing germs is likely to be enough for the average homeowner, assuming he or she takes the time to wash the microfiber cloth properly afterward. Never mind that new university research finds that “safe” household chemicals are proving unhealthy now that so many of them are building up and mixing together inside our hyper-sealed homes, then draining outdoors. Never mind that more scientists are predicting the rise of superbugs as over-disinfecting threatens to create invincible strains of bacteria and viruses.

Right now, the term microfiber is thrown around so generically it is attached to dozens of crappy fake microfiber products. These imitation brands have almost destroyed whatever credibility true microfiber has. Is it just the cheap infomercials and crappy packaging that’s keeping these products of the future out of most American homes?

And if so, why aren’t all the major home cleaning product companies embracing this superior technology?

Because, although purchasing a microfiber cloth might be more expensive upfront than buying a $5 bottle of Windex, it could single-handedly make all Swiffers, polishes, Blue bottles, and all other Lemony Fresh crap completely useless. Flanagan did some rough and tumble reporting and gave the cleaning product companies a hard time. Apparently they are not very happy about their entire business becoming obsolete.

After reading about this I’m seriously considering throwing all my cleaning products out. I always thought Mr. Clean was kind of a prick anyway. Maybe a huge toxic bonfire would be a good idea?

BusinessWeek: The Strange Case of The Missing Microfiber, June 2, 2008