CloroxPro Blog – Professional Cleaning and Disinfection Insights

A blog from industry experts devoted to public health awareness, best practices, and the role of environmental cleaning and disinfection, to promote safer, healthier public spaces.

The trouble with textiles: 4 questions to ask when considering microfibre cloths vs. ready-to-use wipes January 25, 2024
CloroxPro CA

The trouble with textiles: 4 questions to ask when considering microfibre cloths vs. ready-to-use wipes

Microfibre cloths are commonly used for cleaning in healthcare facilities. However, these textiles are associated with significant, but sometimes overlooked, contamination risks that ready-to-use wipes can help you overcome. While these risks were touched on in a previous post, this post will take a deeper dive into the dangers, and present 4 questions to reflect on when evaluating sanitization and disinfection with microfibre cloths.

The truth is, the degree to which quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) bind to various textiles differs. Therefore, if the QAC binding properties of the cloth you are using are too high, disinfection may be compromised.1 In fact:

  • A study evaluating the reduction of QAC concentration with microfibre cloths, cotton, or disposable cloths showed that after the textiles soaked for 5 minutes, the concentration of the expressed solution had dropped by:1
    • 21% with microfibre cloths
    • 50% with cotton and disposable cloths
  • Another study that tested towels for their ability to bind QACs showed that QAC concentrations were reduced by up to 85.3% after exposure to cotton towels, resulting in disinfectant failure in 96% of the germicidal spray tests performed.2

When 56 members of Infection Prevention and Control Canada (IPAC Canada) were asked how often microfibre cloths were replaced in their facility, 80% did not know.3 Being aware of textile replacement frequency is important, because microfibre cloths may lose decontamination efficacy after far fewer washes than their instructions say. In fact, in a study of 10 US hospitals, the decontamination efficacy of microfibre towels was reduced after just 20 washing cycles, contrary to the manufacturer’s indication of sustained efficacy after 500 washes.4

Therefore, it’s important to ask yourself: Who monitors the life of microfibre cloths in my facility and when their decontamination efficacy may be reduced? How often are they replaced?

Fortunately, with ready-to-use wipes, this concern (and tracking requirement) is eliminated.

Obviously, the intent of laundering is to render textiles clean and contaminant-free. However, the studies mentioned below show that, despite our best intentions, this isn’t always the case.

  • A study of the biggest single-centre outbreak of healthcare-associated mucormycosis (a life-threatening fungal infection) in a large, acute care hospital found that:5
    • Of 98 linens sampled, 9 (9%) tested positive for Mucorales, including 4/22 (18%) from linens that had just arrived from the laundry facility and 4/40 (10%) from linens that had been stored at the hospital for 24–48 hours before sampling.
    • Of the 4 linen carts that were sampled on arrival, 3 (75%) contained ≥1 linen positive for Mucorales.
  • A study of transplant and cancer hospitals showed that freshly laundered linens were contaminated with Mucorales upon arrival at 47% (7/15) of the facilities. The textiles were not hygienically clean for Mucorales at 20% (3/15) of the hospitals, based on failure to attain a >90% culture negativity threshold.6
  • Another study of 10 hospitals found that almost all (93%) textiles contained viable bacteria even after laundering. In fact, spore-forming bacteria were isolated from 56% of the towels, coliform bacteria from 23%, E. coli from 3.3%, and mold from 13%.4

Following required laundry protocol (transporting and storage regulations, separation of clean and dirty laundry through all steps, onsite ATP testing of hard surfaces, etc.) takes significant time and effort. Using ready-to-use wipes not only saves this time and effort, but it reduces risk.

Textile use, and laundering, introduces elements you may not consider for their contaminant potential, such as laundry carts, the plastic that covers laundry, loading docks, and the machines themselves. However, these can all jeopardize safety. In a study, visual inspections revealed that laundry carts were unclean upon arrival at 20% (3/15) of hospitals, with evidence of hair, lint, insects, or other soilage.6

Another study showed that the plastic covering fresh laundry was often torn, and linens were left on loading docks with visible bird droppings and dust for hours due to a lack of space.5 With ready-to-use wipes, these elements are never introduced.

These findings all point to ready-to-use wipes being the better choice, a sentiment supported by a double-crossover study in a 1,000-bed teaching hospital measuring the comparative effectiveness of either pre-moistened wipes or cloth soaked in a bucket containing 1,000 ppm chlorine for disinfection. Microbial burden from high-touch surfaces was significantly reduced with ready-to-use wipes.7

  • Alcohol-free, non-bleach and non-corrosive
  • Less residue, easy on surfaces, multi-surface cleaner disinfectant
  • Kills 56 pathogens in 1 minute or less, including 13 antibiotic-resistant ones, including TB in 1 minute, and kills C. auris in 3 minutes
  • Ideal for daily use in high-turnover areas on hard surfaces
  • Alcohol-free quat formula
  • 50 pathogens killed in 2 minutes or less (bacteria, viruses and fungi)
  • Low odour, low residue, non-bleach
  • Can be used daily on pieces of portable and mobile healthcare facility equipment
  • Built to kill nearly 60 microorganisms in ≤3 minutes
  • Improved surface compatibility and residue profile
  • Kills C. difficile spores in 3 minutes 


  1. Sullivan L, et al. Quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) issues encountered in an environmental services (EVS) department. Antimicrobial Resistance and Infect Control 2015;4(1):42.
  2. Engelbrecht K, et al. Decreased activity of commercially available disinfectants containing quaternary ammonium compounds when exposed to cotton towels. Am J Infect Control 2013;41(10):908-11.
  3. Data on file, The Clorox Company.
  4. Sifuentes LY, et al. Microbial contamination of hospital reusable cleaning towels. Am J Infect Control 2013;41:912-5.
  5. Jordan A, et al. Investigation of a Prolonged and Large Outbreak of Healthcare-Associated Mucormycosis Cases in an Acute Care Hospital—Arkansas, June 2019–May 2021. Open Forum Infect Diseases 2022; 1-9.
  6. Sundermann AJ, et al. How Clean Is the Linen at My Hospital? The Mucorales on Unclean Linen Discovery Study of Large United States Transplant and Cancer Centers. Clin Infect Dis 2019;68(5):850-3.
  7. Siani H, Wesgate R, Maillard JY. Impact of antimicrobial wipes compared with hypochlorite solution on environmental surface contamination in a health care setting: A double-crossover study. Am J Infect Control 2018;46(10):1180-7.