It doesn’t seem to matter what size a boat is, it never has enough storage space for all our “stuff”.
Finding a place for all the cleaners we need is difficult and finding a convenient place for them is almost impossible.
There’s vinyl cleaner, stainless steel cleaner, spider dirt cleaner, vinyl window cleaner, glass cleaner, fiberglass cleaner, all purpose cleaner and on and on it goes. “Why can’t they come up with one cleaner that cleans everything?” is a question I’ve been asking for years.
Well, I think I might have found an answer.
Microfiber Cloths—Are they as good as they claim?
Last year, our son-in-law gave me some microfiber cloths to replace my kitchen dish cloths. It took a while to get used to them, but now I love them and wouldn’t go back to regular dish cloths.
I didn’t think of using them for more than dishes until I went to a Home Show this spring. The gal in one of the booths was selling two microfiber environmentally friendly cloths for $34. Of course, I quickly dismissed the idea based on the price alone but, I watched demonstration anyway. Much to my surprise, the microfiber cloth quickly cleaned up grease, lipstick and all sorts of other “dirt” with no effort. All she did was spritz with some water and wipe leaving, no residue or smear. This would be great for the boat I thought—environmentally friendly, easy, no tools or chemicals required, just plain water. But, what about the price?
I found all kinds of microfiber cloths in all the box stores, hardware stores, etc—some making claims and others not. Most described the cloths as having no chemicals, made of high quality yarn woven to very high densities and having properties that allow it to attract dirt and dust particles like a magnet. There were different densities, colours, packaging and price. Some had more density on one side than the other. Some were for windows only while some were for other specific jobs. I bought a few of the more expensive and a few of the less expensive to try them out. The best price I found was a package of 8 for $9.99—that’s a long way from 2 for $34.
Our whole boat needed cleaning, so, armed with a white Microfiber cloth (I wanted white to actually see the dirt it was removing), and no rubber gloves, I started with the isinglass windows in our camper top. Just a spritz of water and I wiped off all the spots leaving no scratches, streaks or smears—even took off the bug dirt including spider dirt. Wow!
Next, I tried the windows and found the same thing on glass. If this was all the cloth worked on, it would be worth getting rid of those two cleaners.
The helm, stainless steel rails and shift handles, teak table, and fiberglass walls all cleaned up beautifully.
Then, much to my surprise, the cloth and a little water cleaned the vinyl cushions and even got rid of the black spider dirt! Now this is really something.
I have tried so many cleaners on the cushions in the past, and none really worked well. I have to admit that the microfiber cloth requires a little more elbow grease, but what the heck. If you don’t need all the special cleaners, the bucket of wash water, the bucket of rinse water, wash cloth, polishing cloths and rubber gloves, it’s worth it. It even took off the residue from the cleaner I had used previously, but did leave behind that orangy-brown stain under the black spider spots the same as the chemical cleaners that are specifically designed to remove them. Over time, the orange spots disappears anyway.
The microfiber cloths feel “weird” as if your hands are rough or badly chapped. The fibres catch on your skin. I found that the “weirder” they felt, the better they worked. Other than getting used to the “weird” feel of the microfiber and accepting that a little more elbow grease is required, I found that on glass and stainless steel, it works best dry with a tiny bit of water—just a spritz. On the vinyl seat cushions, more water worked better.
The Microfiber cloth got REALLY dirty, but went through the washing machine with other “rags” and came out ready to use again. You can’t shake the dirt out. I washed in hot soapy water with no fabric softener as recommended. I found that the microfiber cloth for glass didn't work any better than the others. There are so many on the market, it would take a whole summer to test them all.
Doug and I still can’t believe the results with just a microfiber cloth and water. We’re sold! We’ve finally found an environmentally friendly cleaner that works. Now, we keep one in the car for the windows, dash and console, several in the house for windows, mirrors, pictures, kitchen appliances, door knobs, shower etc. and, of course, 2 for the boat—one for me and one for Doug.
I still keep a disinfectant spray foam for cleaning the head as covered in my book First Mate 101 and my phosphate free dish soap for the galley but we’ve replaced all the chemical cleaners with microfibre cloths and water for the general summer cleaning.
I would still use some chemicals for any heavy spring cleaning jobs, then leave them behind for the summer.
Keeping our boat clean is now simplified, environmentally friendly, easy and without the need for several cleaners, rags, buckets, polishing cloths and rubber gloves. The bonus is trying to figure out what to use the extra storage space for.
I would definitely recommend you try the microfiber cloth yourself and let me know what results you get.