Microfibre cleaning mitts review

Is microfibre cleaning the way forward?
 
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  • Updated:9 Mar 2005
 

01 .Introduction

Microfibre-mitts

In brief

  • On trial: ENJO Bathroom Glove, OATES Clean Enviro Bathroom Mitt and SABCO Onewipe Cleaning Mitt Bathroom & Laundry
  • Our trialists thought the mitts performed on a par with their usual cleaning methods, and all three brands on test rated similarly.
  • Having tried them and seen the price tags, only a third to a half of trialists said they'd be willing to switch.
  • If you think this way of cleaning is for you, buy a cheap brand of mitt to try first.

See our latest article on microfibre cleaning cloths.

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.

 
 

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What

We tested three widely known brands of microfibre cleaning mitts: ENJO, OATES and SABCO. Each brand has a range of microfibre products for dusting and cleaning the kitchen, floors and cars, among other things, but for the purpose of this trial we looked at bathroom mitts only.

How

We recruited 34 trialists, and each was randomly allocated two brands to test, each for a two-week period. Each brand was tested at least 22 times.

The survey asked trialists to use each mitt on the main bathroom surfaces (mirror, shower screen, basin, bath, tiles), and no other cleaning products were used to clean these surfaces during the trial period. Mitts were used and cared for according to the product instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Trialists rated how well the mitts performed, how they compared to their usual cleaning method, and outlined what they liked or disliked about the mitts.

Where to buy them

Both OATES and SABCO mitts are widely available in major supermarkets, but you have to order ENJO mitts through a consultant. To arrange a demonstration go to www.enjo.com.au

03.Cleaning with water

 

Is cleaning with water hygienic?

The answer is yes.

Microfibre mitts and cold water seem to remove dirt (and therefore bacteria) as effectively as chemical cleaners. If you wipe the surfaces dry afterwards it'll kill more bacteria and help prevent any surviving ones from multiplying.

However, as we've reported in the past, not all bacteria are bad for us, and for our immune system to work we need some exposure to harmful bacteria. And while it's important to keep surfaces in contact with food as bacteria-free as possible, eliminating bacteria from every surface in your home - whatever cleaning method you use - probably won't much reduce your chances of getting sick, as most household infections like colds and sore throats are caused by viruses, not bacteria.

A better clean

Like a number of our trialists, Meagan was converted to cleaning mitts after the trial, despite being unsure of them at first. "Because you're only using cold water and no chemicals, I didn't expect them to clean properly, but they're really effective and easy to use.

"The first time around it required a bit more elbow grease than normal, but not a huge effort. And it got easier. It's also faster as you're not waiting for chemicals to work, and you dry down surfaces as you go along.

My bathroom is noticeably cleaner now, and the mitts have really brought out the shine in the chrome.
"I've got a baby daughter, so I particularly like that I don't have to use chemicals. I can keep the mitt in the bathroom, and every night after her bath I just run it around to wipe off the ring."

Too much hard work

Quite reasonably, Michael's primary priority for cleaning is that it should be easy. "I don't enjoy cleaning, so the last thing I want is to have to put a lot of effort into it.

"I normally use a chemical spray to clean my bathroom, and it's so easy - you can actually see it doing the work.
"It was nice knowing that I wasn't inhaling chemicals. But personally, I prefer to open the windows, spray my shower with cleaning product, then come back a few minutes later and wash the chemicals and dirt down the drain.
"Cleaning with mitts required a lot of effort, took too long, and ate into my leisure time - I'd rather work out at the gym, not in the bathroom!"

Need ideas to make cleaning easier?

For simple, practical and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions, check out the CHOICE book How to clean practically anything or order a copy by phoning 1800 069 552 toll-free.