How is PVA different from polyester

Cloths and sponges

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On this page, the materials from which cloths and sponges are made are first briefly presented and then the possible areas of application are summarized in a table.


Cloths can be made from the following materials, among others:

  • Cotton,
  • Linen / half linen,
  • Leather,
  • Microfiber,
  • PVA (polyvinyl alcohol),
  • Cellulose,
  • Mixed fabrics,
  • Cleaning cloths with silver particles.

Cleaning cloths with silver particles are a specialty. They can be made of different materials, but are often made of microfiber.


Floor towels, dishcloths and tea towels can be made from cotton. They are great for cleaning because cotton can soak up a lot of water. A waffle structure increases the surface area, which further increases the capacity. They are washable at 95 ° C and, just like cellulose, are completely biodegradable. However, cotton has the disadvantage of fluffing → cotton.

Linen / half linen

Particularly high-quality tea towels are made from linen, they are not as absorbent as towels made from half linen, but have the advantage of being lint-free and very durable. Half-linen tea towels are made of at least 40% linen and 60% cotton. The addition of cotton makes them relatively absorbent, but hardly leaves any fluff on glasses → linen.


The non-plus-ultra for polishing window panes, mirrors and chrome-plated surfaces has long been the leather cloth. It is very absorbent and lint-free. Leather is very expensive to buy and unfortunately has the disadvantage of becoming hard over time. Also because of the high purchase price, leather is increasingly being replaced by microfiber cloths.


Microfiber is now used in all areas of application. The cloths are produced as pile (velor-like) or loop fabric. As they are highly absorbent and lint-free, microfiber cloths are suitable for polishing glass, mirror and chrome-plated steel surfaces or as a dishcloth and floor cloth. They can also be used for dry dusting. Microfiber cloths that are offered for professional use are machine washable at 95 ° C. In addition to the colors for the four-color system green, red, blue and yellow, other colors such as gray, white or chamois are also available from some manufacturers. Attention: Microfiber cloths are not suitable for cleaning high-gloss surfaces, they can become dull → microfiber.
Since microfiber cloths are made of synthetic fibers, some are now wondering whether they should do without microfiber cloths in order to avoid → microplastics. The environmental consultancy in Austria sees the advantage of microfiber cloths and continues to recommend them for cleaning. Microfiber cloths help to save cleaning agents and thus protect the environment ( THE ENVIRONMENTAL ADVICE: Microplastics from clothing and cleaning cloths).

The "Sendung mit der Maus" shows how microfiber cloths are constructed.
Show with the mouse (2020): microfibre cloth.

Microfiber cloth with PVA (polyvinyl alcohol)

Microfiber cloth with PVA
30x magnification

Vileda professional presented a microfiber cloth with PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) at CMS (Cleaning.Management.Services.) In September 2013. Thanks to PVA, the cloth is very absorbent and it can also be used for highly polished surfaces. When dry, it is relatively hard, but moisture becomes soft and grippy. It can be wringed out well and is ideal for polishing: On the one hand, it is lint-free and, on the other hand, the water is evenly distributed in very fine drops on the surfaces and then dries quickly. The cloth is washable up to 95 ° C and can be tumble-dried at reduced heat. The cloths are available in the four colors green, blue, pink and yellow.


PVA is a synthetic fiber made from polyvinyl alcohol. The properties:

  • ultra-fine pores prevent adhesion, making it very slippery;
  • soft,
  • very absorbent,
  • dries quickly,
  • insensitive to alkalis and other chemical cleaning agents.

Microfiber cloth with polyurethane

Other microfiber cloths are coated with → polyurethane (PUR). The coating gives the cloth a smooth surface. The cloths are suitable for cleaning all surfaces and do not leave any fluff. In addition, they are very absorbent, have good resistance to alkalis and acids and are washable at 95 ° C. The towels are available in green, blue, pink and yellow.


Cellulose is obtained from wood and has the advantage of not only being obtained from a renewable raw material, but also of being completely biodegradable. Mixed fabrics with cotton or polylactic acid (made from corn starch) are also produced. They are absorbent and usually washable at 60 ° C. With some products, however, lint or hair stubbornly stick to the cloth even after washing. → Viscose is a cellulose fiber from which, for example, thin disposable dust-binding cloths are made. These cloths are suitable for dry cleaning of floors (→ dust-binding wiping).

Mixed fabrics

Many cloths are made from blended fabrics. Due to the materials used, it is possible to adapt the properties of a cloth to the requirements. Desired properties are, for example, high absorbency and durability as well as boiling resistance; the handle of the cloth also hangs, among other things. from the material. Cloths suitable for polishing should not give off any fluff. Common fiber blends with different weight proportions are:
→ viscose / → polypropylene (PP)
→ viscose / → polyester
→ polyester / → cotton
→ cotton / → viscose

Other blended fabrics consist of more than two materials:
→ cotton / → viscose / → polypropylene (PP), polyethersulfone (PES)
→ viscose / → polyester / rubber

Latex coating

Latex coated cloth
30x magnification

This cloth consists of 35% → viscose, 5% → polyester and 60% → rubber. A coating with latex increases the sliding properties of the cloth, the surface is lint-free and loosely lying dirt can be easily rinsed off. Thanks to these properties, it is suitable for picking up dust and other stubborn dirt, even from high-gloss surfaces. However, it is not very absorbent and is therefore only partially suitable for vacuuming up spilled liquids.

Cleaning cloths with silver particles

Antibacterial cleaning wipes can be made from various materials (mostly microfiber); What they have in common is that they are equipped with silver particles or nanosilver particles that release silver ions. Silver ions can damage living cells, this mechanism is what makes them antibacterial. By reducing the number of germs, there are fewer unpleasant odors. One of the reasons why Vileda Professional decided to use nanosilver in microfibre is because it eliminates the need for machine drying. According to the manufacturer, cleaning textiles with nanosilver particles can be stored moist for up to 72 hours after the disinfectant wash without increasing the number of germs. This is to save one process step and energy.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment advises against the use of silver in microcrystalline or nanoparticulate form as well as silver coupled to nanoparticles. It has not yet been clarified whether the widespread use of silver compounds will spread resistance. If cleaning textiles are washed with disinfectant, then dried and stored in a dry place until the next use, the cleanliness of the cloths is guaranteed.

Cleaning sponges

Cleaning sponges are mostly made of → polyurethane (→ polyurethane foam), they consist of two sides: a soft side for light and a roughened (mostly dark) side for removing stubborn dirt. However, the roughened side can scratch sensitive surfaces (such as glass and wood).

Due to this fact, non-woven sponges with a non-abrasive side without an abrasive agent have been developed. They can also be used on more sensitive surfaces. But here too, one should be careful. High-gloss surfaces should not be cleaned with these sponges either.

Dirt eraser, magic sponge or magic block

The basis of the dirt eraser is a melamine resin foam. If they are moistened, they can remove a lot of superficial dirt such as black stripes from bicycle tires. The cause of the effect lies in the material, because it consists of many "small (nano) pores" and "larger pores". While the small pores split the dirt (microsplitting), the large pores pick up the dirt and remove it. Over time, the sponge will wear out like an eraser. Caution is advised with all scratch-sensitive materials, but also with dark surfaces, here the sponge should first be tried on an inconspicuous area. With semi-gloss surfaces, it can happen after use that the treated area appears matt. If you wipe this area with a damp cloth and cleaning agent and then polish it dry, the dull areas have usually disappeared.

Pot scraper / pot cleaner

They are made of stainless steel or copper. Since copper is softer than steel wool, a copper pot cleaner can be used to clean stainless steel surfaces without scratching them. Stainless steel pot scrapers are only suitable for cleaning insensitive surfaces, the inside of the pot or the bottom of the pot. Thanks to the rough surface, they also remove very stubborn dirt. Both metals can be used to clean glass panes and glass cookware.

Saponified steel wool

The best known are ako® PADS. Because of the soap, the surface is not quite as rough and greasy soiling is also loosened. Casserole dishes and enamel as well as insensitive metal and ceramic surfaces can be cleaned with saponified steel wool.

Areas of application

description materialArea of ​​application
Tea towelcottonDrying and polishing of various surfaces, including pots, dishes, stainless steel and plastic.
Tea towelLinen, half linen, cotton, microfiberDrying and polishing of dishes, cutlery and glasses.
Sponge clothViscose, cellulose, cotton, man-made fibersSuitable for removing light soiling from all surfaces, including washing dishes.
DishclothCotton, microfiber, mixed fibers (e.g. microfiber and polyamide)Very absorbent and soft surface so as not to scratch sensitive surfaces. They are particularly suitable for washing dishes, but also for cleaning all surfaces. Microfiber cloths are not suitable for cleaning high-gloss surfaces.
DusterMicrofiber, cotton, mixed fabrics made from cotton and → viscoseThe surface of dusters is soft and dust-binding. They are suitable for dry dust removal from most surfaces. Microfiber cloths are not suitable for cleaning high-gloss surfaces (see also → feather duster, dust broom, etc.).
→ Dust wipers / dustersSynthetic fibers, → viscoseSoft with a fluffy surface, electrostatically charged and partly also impregnated with oil, silicone and wax. They are thrown away after use. Suitable for all surfaces.
Floor clothCotton, microfiber, mixed fabrics (e.g. viscose, PLA = polylactic acid, flax)Very absorbent and soft, are suitable for cleaning floors.
Mop coversCotton, mixed fibers, microfibersMop covers → wide mop device
Window clothLeather, microfiberVery absorbent and lint-free. They are suitable for polishing window panes and mirrors as well as chrome-plated fittings.
Cleaning sponges→ polyurethaneThe rough (dark) side is suitable for removing stubborn dirt from pots, baking trays and enamelled surfaces; more sensitive surfaces can scratch them.
Cleaning sponges with a non-scratching side can also be used for bathtubs, sinks or ceramic hobs as well as for washing dishes.
Dirt erasermelamineRemoves, for example, contamination from plastic surfaces (window frames, kitchen appliances), wallpaper, metal, ceramics, glass. Although scratches are not removed, they are no longer so noticeable because they become lighter.
Scraper steel sponge / stainless steel spiralstainless steelPot insides, pot bottoms or grill grates made of stainless steel. Adhering dirt can also be removed from glass with stainless steel spirals. Not suitable for plexiglass and acrylic glass or other plastics.
Saponified steel woolSteel woolThis can be used to clean casserole dishes, enamel baking trays and scratch-resistant metal and ceramic surfaces. Soiling on → window glass can also be removed with steel wool. Not suitable for scratch-sensitive surfaces. Rinse cookware with plenty of clean water after cleaning.
ScourercopperThere are also pot cleaners made of copper. Copper is a softer metal than steel wool. On the Mohs scale, it reaches a degree of hardness of 2 and is therefore just as soft as silver, gold and aluminum (→ Mohs hardness scale) [1]. With copper pot cleaners, steel pots, steel cutlery, glass and ceramic hobs can be cleaned without scratching them.


[1] Gerd Sawall - GWS: Mohs’sche scratch hardness scale. Accessed on July 30th, 2020
Stiftung Warentest: Test dust remover 06/2007. Accessed on October 13, 2016
BfR advises against using nanosilver in foods and everyday products, Opinion No. 024/2010
Efficient cleaning: Nanosilver in cleaning textiles: Opinions are divided, issue 11/2010
meiko Textil GmbH: duster S350. Accessed on September 21, 2018
Mark Paluch (Ed.): The secret of the magic sponges and dirt erasers: Revealed! Published 07/15/2008. (Ed.): Dirt eraser and eraser sponge as a miracle cleaner. Accessed on September 21, 2018
Casa Clean GmbH (Ed.): RaumProfi -Vileda Professional (latex coated cloth). Accessed on July 30th, 2020
Vileda GmbH: PVAmicro, microfiber cloth with PVA coating. Accessed on July 30th, 2020 GmbH & Co. KG (Ed.): Meiko microfiber cleaning cloth MPower. Accessed on September 21, 2018 GmbH & Co. KG (Ed.): 3M Scotch-Brite ™ Micro Duett Pad. Accessed on September 21, 2018
meiko Textil GmbH: MPower. Accessed on September 21, 2018
Sito duster striped 35x35 cm,
Baur, Hoffmann, Neitzert, Housekeeping: Cleaning, 2008
Lutz, Practical Guide for Building Cleaning, 2008
Visit to CMS (Cleaning.Management.Services.) In Berlin in September 2013
Information sheet PVAmicro, Vileda GmbH

Detailed references

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