The best cleaning cloths

  • Spills, stains, and smudges happen, but using the right type of cloth to clean up will make the task easier and may even protect your belongings.
  • Zwipes Microfiber Cloths is our top pick because it can clean up nearly every kind of grime without using harsh chemicals on the surfaces in your home.

When it comes to spills, if you feel like you are keeping the paper towel industry in business, it's likely time to invest in some good cleaning cloths.

Most cloths can be tossed in the washer to sanitize them so they can be used over and over, saving yu money and reducing waste.

By selecting the right type of cloth for each task, you can also limit potential damage to the item you're cleaning. Paper towels and some fabric towels can cause minute scratches on finishes or leave lint that can damage electronics.

I've been using and testing cleaning products, including cloths, for many years as a home economist for companies and publications. I'm always looking for the most effective, easiest to use, and the best value in products for myself and others. Below, I've shared the best cleaning cloths I've found, plus tips on how to maximize their use.

Here are the best cleaning cloths:

  • Best overall: Zwipes Microfiber Cloths
  • Best for tough messes: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sheets
  • Best for the kitchen: Libman Microfiber Sponge Cloths
  • Best for electronics: Magic Fiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
  • Best for metal polishing: Sunshine Cleaning and Polishing Cloths

Updated on 8/28/2020 to edit copy, links, formatting, add related guides, and remove reviews from third-party sites because we've found them to be unreliable in the past.

The best overall

From wiping up floor spills to scrubbing a sink, and making mirrors sparkle, Zwipes Microfiber Cloths are up to all tasks.

If you haven't discovered the cleaning power of microfiber, you're just making your cleaning life more difficult. Microfiber actually means "small fibers" and when a cleaning cloth has millions of small fibers it is more effective in absorbing water and attracting dirt molecules.

With microfiber cloths and just a bit of water to loosen visible soil, you can often clean without the need for detergents or other chemicals. With so many fibers (usually polyamide AKA nylon and polyester), the dirt and bacteria are trapped in the cloth until you use laundry detergent and water to flush them away.

The package of 12 comes with four 12 x 16-inch cloths in blue, yellow, and green so you can keep the bathroom, kitchen, and dusting towels all separate. Each cloth is quite plush with 110,000 fibers per square inch to trap dirt and dust without having to use lots of cleaning chemicals. Each lint-free cloth will absorb eight times its weight in water and is non-abrasive.

One quick tip to help Zwipes work even more efficiently is, before you use them for the first time, rinse each cloth well in cool water and allow it to air dry. This will remove any lint and residue from shipping or manufacturing. Then, go forth and clean.

Pros: Lint-free, leaves no streaks, cleans surfaces with little or no need for cleaning chemicals, comes in different colors, reusable after washing

Cons: Cloths are thinner and smaller than some other brands, can leave lint if not rinsed before using

The best for tough messes

If you appreciate the cleaning power of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, you'll love the flexibility of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sheets.

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers use melamine-foam activated with water as micro-scrubbers to remove scuff marks and stuck-on grime from nearly every type of surface. As the years have passed, the erasers have become available in different sizes, with added cleaners, and finally, we now have Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sheets.

These sheets are thin and easily conform to tight spaces like appliance door crevices, little grooves in a stovetop, or that tiny space behind a bathroom faucet. I love the original Erasers, but could never get them down into that final small space. With these sheets, I can reach every bit of caked-on dirt because they are less than 1/16-inch thick. I often cut the sheets in half for a small job and then toss away the soiled part when the job is done.

My favorite thing about the sheets, however, is that no additional chemicals are needed to remove tough grime. I do recommend that the freshly cleaned area get a rinse with a damp microfiber cloth to remove any foam particles that might remain.

Pros: Sheet conforms to tight spaces, can be cut to fit cleaning job, disposable, removes really tough grime

Cons: Cannot be used on highly polished surfaces or wood

The best for the kitchen

Super absorbent and durable, Libman Microfiber Sponge Cloths remove dirt and grime without the use of detergents and avoids the bacterial growth common in thicker sponges.

If you love using a sponge in the kitchen but are concerned about the number of coliform bacteria (Salmonella or E.coli) that can lurk in the pores, Libman Microfiber Sponge Cloths are a great option. Combining the best parts of a sponge and a microfiber cloth, they are ideal for washing dishes and cleaning kitchen appliances and counters.

Available in a 3-pack of hot pink, green, and blue, the 7.5 x 6.5-inch cloths have a thin, synthetic sponge quilted between two microfiber cloths. The sponge adds to the cloths' absorbency while the microfiber produces streak-free surfaces whether using them wet or dry.

I appreciate that each cloth is small enough to wash the inside of drinking glasses and coffee cups. When they are soiled, I simply toss them in the washer and have fresh clean cloths.

One tip for any type of microfiber cloth is to never use fabric softener or dryer sheets (I hang mine to air dry) when cleaning. The fabric softener will coat the microfibers and make them less absorbent. I find that each cloth stands up to about 25 or so washes until I'm ready to replace it.

Pros: Very absorbent, lint-free, washable, quick drying, naturally anti-bacterial

Cons: Cloths can be stiff until washed several times

The best for electronics

The last thing you want on your television, smartphone, tablet, or computer monitor is scratches, but with Magic Fiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, everything will be crystal clear.

Our electronic devices are so essential to our daily lives that they take a great deal of abuse. When it's time to clean them, you shouldn't use just any kind of cloth that's handy. Paper and cotton towels can leave lint and cause scratches on the screens. That's why Magic Fiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths are so important.

Magic Fiber Cloths are finely woven from microfiber to produce no lint, no rough surfaces, and can clean screens without leaving streaks or microscopic scratches. The microfiber attracts dust and holds onto it until the screen is clean instead of dragging the particles across the surface. To use the cloth again, simply rinse in plain water and allow it to air dry.

I use the 6 x 7-inch cloths to keep all of my devices, sunglasses, and eyeglasses clean. Most of the time, just a few wipes with the dry cloth will take care of the problems. If the screens or lenses have lots of soil or smudges, just barely dampening the cloth with plain water will help.

Pros: Leaves no lint or streaks, available in grey and black, individually packaged, can be washed and reused

Cons: Black cloths may leach dye when wet and should be hand washed separately from other fabrics

The best for metal polishing

If you spend hours polishing silver or brass with messy creams and liquids, Sunshine Cleaning and Polishing Cloths will make your metals gleam.

It was always my job to spend hours polishing silver dinnerware and serving pieces before every holiday gathering. My kids have avoided the torture because I found Sunshine Cleaning and Polishing Cloths.

These cloths are amazing. The soft microfiber fabric has a polishing agent embedded in the fibers. As you polish sterling silver, gold, brass, or copper, the dark oxidation that dulls the finish is transferred to the Sunshine Cleaning Cloth. When the cloth has turned black, toss it away. You cannot wash it and reuse it effectively.

The cloths are sold in a 3-count and are individually stored in plastic tubes to keep them moist. I keep a couple in the dining room/kitchen and one in my bedroom to keep my jewelry gleaming.

Pros: Cleans metal without messy liquids and pastes, leaves jewelry, dinnerware, and decorative metal pieces polished and streak free

Cons: Cannot be washed and reused

Tips on how to best use cleaning cloths

When something needs to be cleaned, most of us just grab a cloth and dive in. But, there is a proper way to use any cleaning cloth to prevent redepositing soil on surfaces or cross-contamination between tasks.

No matter how great the cleaning cloth may be, once it is full of soil, it won't collect any more. If the cloth is saturated, you are simply swiping dirt or germs all over the surface, not removing them.

When you begin working with any type of cleaning cloth, fold it in half, then fold in half again. This gives you eight clean sides to use. As you move from one area or task in a room to the next, refold the cloth to a clean side. This gives you a fresh and soil-free cleaning cloth for each job.

To help prevent cross-contamination between bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas, use different colored cloths for each room. Even very young kids can help with cleaning and learn their colors at the same time.

Once cleaning cloths are heavily soiled or beginning to fray, use them one last time for a really messy job like cleaning a greasy outdoor grill or dirty car wheels before tossing.

Check out our other guides to household cleaning products

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The best cleaning products for kitchen and laundry appliances

The dishwasher, oven, and washer are among the appliance workhorses in a home that need to be cleaned regularly in order to function properly. These are the best products for the job.

The best bathroom cleaning products

With a regular cleaning schedule and the right products, you can get your bathroom clean and sparkling quickly and easily. These are the best products for the job.

The best floor cleaners

Even if most of your home has wall-to-wall carpeting, some floors will still need more than just vacuuming. We reviewed and chose the best floor cleaners for hardwood, laminate, vinyl, ceramic tile, and stone floors. 

The best countertop cleaners

Countertops in kitchens and bathrooms take lots of abuse and sometimes need to be cleaned multiple times daily. With the right cleaners and tools, you can have stain-free and clean countertops easily. These are the best countertop-cleaning solutions.

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