Microfibre mitts are made of minute synthetic fibres that trap dirt, dust, grease and moisture from surfaces, and are claimed to save time and money. And the beauty of them is that no chemicals are required, and only a little (cold) water is needed, to get results. But are they easy to use, and do they do the job well?
Please note: this information was current as of March 2005 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
What trialists liked
- No need for chemical cleaners, resulting in cost savings (no need to buy cleaning agents), water-saving (no need to rinse away chemical cleaner suds or residue), less damage to the environment and less exposure to chemical cleaner fumes.
- Convenience and ease of use. Trialists on the whole thought the mitt design made it easy to wipe down surfaces, with the wristband of the SABCO mitt particularly useful for preventing it from slipping off during cleaning.
- Effective. Some trialists felt the mitts did a good job removing soap scum and picking up and holding on to dust and dirt, without redistributing it to other areas.
What they disliked
- Germ concerns. The main concern appeared to be about how well the mitts disinfected surfaces and removed germs compared to chemical cleaners. Even some trialists who thought they cleaned well and indicated they'd willingly switch to using a mitt said they'd still feel the need to use chemical cleaners at least periodically to ensure surfaces were thoroughly clean - essentially reducing one of the main benefits of the mitts.
- Elbow grease required, especially for removing stubborn stains. And some trialists had trouble picking up and holding debris such as hair and fluff with the mitts.
- The need to wipe surfaces dry with another cloth after using the mitt, which increased the time and effort required for cleaning.
- Removing excess water from the mitts. This was a problem for some trialists, who felt the mitts sometimes got too wet during cleaning. Some also found the mitts' drying time too long.
- Cleaning the mitts. Some trialists didn't like the idea of adding a dirty mitt to their normal wash, or felt that not being able to use fabric conditioners/softeners when washing the mitt - as the care instructions specify - was inconvenient, meaning you'd have to wash them separately.
Would they switch?
After testing each mitt, trialists were told its price and asked whether they'd be willing to use it instead of their usual cleaning method. The percentage that said 'yes' to switching, by product, were as follows:
- ENJO Bathroom Glove ($38): 33%.
- OATES Clean Enviro Bathroom Mitt ($11): 50%.
- SABCO Onewipe Cleaning Mitt Bathroom & Laundry ($10): 43%.
Prices are based on the average price we paid in Oct/Nov 2004, rounded to the nearest dollar.
So although trialists felt that the mitts, on average, cleaned similarly to their usual cleaning method, this didn't translate into high conversion rates, especially for the higher-priced ENJO.
Our trialists, however, didn't use the mitts till the end of their lives. They're all meant for multiple uses, but ENJO claims its products last longer than others and that its bathroom mitts, for example, should last an average of two years, depending on how you use them. Only using the mitts in your own home will show whether the costs even out for you or not vs chemical cleaners.