A reader writes: “We have converted 100 percent to microfiber cloths for all our custodial operations. Is it practical to launder the cloths in separate mesh bags that are tagged so that the cloths from each area go back to that area?”

Great question and my first response is that it should work with a few caveats. First of all, the cloths should wash out satisfactorily subject to the mesh bags being large enough to allow them movement within the machine. Secondly, the machine certainly should not be stuffed with too many bags since this can hamper the laundering process.

Remember the four aspects of cleaning: Temperature, Agitation, Concentration and Time apply in this process. Microfiber should be laundered in cold water with the appropriate detergent (Concentration) so that soil is released and allowed to rinse down the drain. Agitation has to do with the laundry unit you are using which should be commercial or the new High Efficiency machines (without the spindle). You probably do not need to use extended wash in most cases (Time). Also remember that you should NOT use bleach, fabric softener or harsh detergents that can possibly damage the fibers. As to drying, you need to use very low heat or simply air dry. DO NOT use the hot (melt the fiber) settings since you can lose your investment and have cloths that look the same but may be damaged at the fiber level defeating the intent.

You also mentioned that you are in a hospital setting, which may require use of an appropriate disinfectant in the wash to satisfy the Safety Committee. If so, carefully research the safest, most appropriate product for use. I suggest you test a few cloths and examine them under a magnifying glass or test them for absorbency before committing to the product and process. My experience is that if the fibers are clean of all soils (which can hold the pathogens) they are clean but this is probably something to defer to our experts out there. In some situations it may be wise to use one time disposable/sterile wipes which can get rather expensive.

I would appreciate hearing other’s feedback on how to truly clean microfiber cloths used in sterile/aseptic areas. Thanks in advance for your feedback. Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net