The Impact of Quats on Microfiber Efficiency: Why This Combination Falls Short

Jun 6, 2024 | Ambulatory Facility, EVS, Hospital, Linen Service, Markets, Nursing Home, Services, Solutions, Veteran Home

In the world of cleaning and disinfection, the tools and products we choose are crucial to achieving optimal results. Microfiber cloths have gained popularity for their exceptional ability to trap and remove dirt and microbes, while quaternary ammonium compounds (Quats) are widely used as disinfectants for their effectiveness against a broad spectrum of pathogens. However, combining these two can lead to unforeseen consequences. This blog post explores why using Quats with microfiber cloths is not recommended, as it can compromise the cloth’s effectiveness and turn it into a mere shadow of its former self.

Understanding Microfiber and Quats

Microfibers are extremely fine fibers that are excellent for cleaning because they have more surface area to trap dirt and are more absorbent compared to traditional fibers. On the other hand, Quats are potent disinfectants used in various settings for their germ-killing properties.

The Problem with Mixing Quats and Microfiber

When Quats are used in conjunction with microfiber cloths, the efficacy of the microfiber is significantly reduced. This issue arises due to the interaction between the microfiber material and the Quats.

1. Clogging of Microfiber Pores

Microfiber cloths work by trapping dirt and microbes in their tiny pores. Quats, being sticky in nature, can clog these pores. When the pores of the microfiber cloth are clogged, the cloth behaves more like an ordinary rag. Its ability to pick up and hold onto dirt and microbes is greatly diminished.

2. Reduction in Cleaning Efficiency

Once the microfiber’s pores are clogged with Quats, the cloth loses its efficiency. The dirt and bacteria might be wiped off a surface but are not effectively trapped by the microfibers. This can lead to more streaks and residues left on surfaces, and potentially, the spread of bacteria rather than their removal.

3. Chemical Residue and Streaking

Quats can leave behind a residue, particularly on glass and shiny surfaces. When used with microfiber cloths, this can result in streaking and a less-than-clean appearance.

Alternative Practices for Effective Cleaning and Disinfection

1. Separate Use of Microfiber and Quats

Use microfiber cloths for cleaning and Quats for disinfecting as separate steps in the cleaning process. First, use a dry or damp microfiber cloth to clean the surface, removing dirt and organic material. Then, apply Quats with a different cloth or a disposable wipe for disinfection.

2. Proper Cleaning of Microfiber Cloths

Regular and proper laundering of microfiber cloths is essential. This ensures that any residual Quats are removed, and the cloths maintain their effectiveness. Avoid using fabric softeners and bleach during washing, as these can also clog the microfibers.

3. Use Alternatives to Quats

Consider using other disinfectants that do not have the same clogging effect on microfibers. Products such as hydrogen peroxide or alcohol-based solutions can be effective alternatives.

4. Educate Cleaning Staff

It’s important that cleaning personnel understand the best practices for using microfiber cloths and Quats. Training and education can prevent the misuse of these products and ensure the highest cleaning standards.


The combination of Quats and microfiber cloths in cleaning and disinfection routines is a classic example of how two effective products can counteract each other’s benefits when used together. By understanding the interaction between these products and adjusting cleaning protocols accordingly, the efficacy of cleaning and disinfection practices can be maximized. The key is in using the right tool for the right job and respecting the unique properties of each cleaning agent and tool.