Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet
Textiles and Clothing
1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210-1295
Microfibers: Functional Beauty
Joyce A. Smith
Performance with beauty describes the potential of microfibers. They are very fine fibers compared to more conventional forms which gives them unique and desirable properties. To provide a measure for comparison, microfibers are half the diameter of a fine silk fiber, one-third the diameter of cotton, one-quarter the diameter of fine wool, and one hundred times finer than human hair.
"Denier" is the term used to define the diameter or fineness of a continuous or filament fiber such as silk or man-made fibers. Denier is the weight in grams of a 9000-meter length of fiber or yarn. The higher the number, the thicker the fiber.
In order to be called a "microfiber," the fiber must be less than one denier. Fine silk, for example, is approximately 1.25 denier. A microfiber would need to be 0.9 denier or finer. Many microfibers are 0.5 to 0.6 denier. For another comparison, very fine nylon stockings are knit from 10 to 15 denier yarns consisting of 3 to 4 filaments. A 15 denier yarn made of microfiber would have as many as 30 filaments.
So what is so special about very fine or microfibers? The many fine fibers packed together create a depth and a body to fabrics from which they are made. Fabrics have luxurious drape. Although fine and lightweight, they don't exhibit a flimsy quality. The many tiny filaments or fibers can slide back and forth and maneuver around or scorching can occur quickly. This is a particular concern with heat sensitive fibers such as polyester or nylon. Use a cool iron, if pressing is necessary, and do not leave the iron on the fabric too long. Also, avoid using too much pressure as shine and ridges may develop on the surface.
Static may develop in fabrics from synthetic microfibers, especially during dry winter months when heating systems are turned on and the humidity is low. Fabric softeners in the rinse cycle of the washing machine may lessen the problem. Paper dryer sheets can be used; however, temporary spots from excessive heat in the dryer may form on the microfiber. The delicate finish of microfiber fabrics and the amount of fiber surface make the spots noticeable if they develop.
As with all fine garments, avoid jewelry that is rough or jagged. It can cause pulls, snags or general abrasion to garments. Although microfibers in a yarn are strong, the individual fibers are extremely fine and could abrade easily.
Enjoy microfiber garments in your wardrobe. They have a luxurious silk-like hand. Generally, microfibers are durable and should provide good wear if used appropriately and cared for properly.
All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.
Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.