If you’ve ever marveled at the ability of a gecko to walk on walls as a result of tiny sticky fibers in their feet, you’re close to appreciating and understanding the physics of microfibers — and also why your microfiber sofa seat covers need special care. Microfiber literally attracts dirt, but it does not make the cleaning scenario hopeless — far from it. If you wash frequently, you will not find your microfiber seat covers any more challenging to keep clean than the rest of your furniture.
It is Science
Microfiber is a synthetic material made from plastic, like polyester and cotton, which can be woven into grasses which are 100 times thinner than a human hair. Whenever these strands are woven into fabric, microscopic attractive forces called van der Waals forces — following Dutch chemist Johannes Diderik van der Waals — become significant. Each fiber makes a small — nearly negligible — attractive force, but also the sheer amount of these fibers magnifies this power dramatically, turning the fiber into a dirt magnet. This principle is supporting the potency of microfiber cleaning cloths, and it’s why geckos can walk on walls, the suction created by the densely packed, tiny fibers in their feet.
Because they pull dust in the air, your microfiber sofa covers are sure to get dirty, even in the event that you don’t use them. Remove the dirt by vacuuming the cushions regularly. Put a brush attachment on the vacuum, and use a light touch when running it on the cushions. If you press too hard, you’ll probably press the dirt deeper into the fiber. Avoid attempting to brush dirt off microfiber — it’s somewhat like trying to rub glue; you’ll likely succeed only in spreading it about.
Read the Tag
Vacuuming will not take care of all of the dust, and a stain is bound to happen. It is important that you be aware of the ideal approach to handle ground-in dirt and stains. The safest way to clean most fabrics would be to work with a damp cloth, but that is not always true with microfiber. Read the label before using water or a knitted cleaner. Should you see “W” or “S-W” on the label, it’s safe to proceed. “S” means that you should use only solvents, like alcohol or dry cleaning fluid. “X” means that neither solvents nor water are safe — vacuum only.
Alcohol to the Rescue
You can use isopropyl alcohol to clean any microfiber cushion cover that does not have an “X” on its own label, and alcohol is the go-to cleaner for water and other types of stains. Spray the alcohol on the stain, using a spray bottle, and rub the spray with a white sponge; avert colored sponges, since the color might rub off. Give the fabric about 20 minutes to dry; subsequently brush up the flattened fibers with a white-bristle brush. If your cushion covers are water-safe, you can clean them in the washing machine with cold water on a delicate washing cycle. Hang them up to dry — don’t put them in the dryer.