After a weekend when the family has been sheltering from the heat watching movies and playing video games, your remotes and screens have probably gotten a bit grubby. One study compared a TV remote, a trash can lid, a bedroom carpet, a living room carpet and a toilet seat — and found that the remote was the grimiest object of them all. A University of Houston study found that remotes were one of the filthiest items in hotel rooms. The University found cold-causing rhinovirus germs on half the remotes in a study.  Your screens aren’t a hotbed of infection, but clean screens definitely improve your experience. Fortunately, one cleaning tool is perfect for both remotes and screens: microfiber cloths.

What’s special about microfiber?

Microfiber cleaning cloths are made from polyamide fibers  a fraction of the size of a human hair. That characteristic of these cleaners means that they can reach nooks and crannies that cotton or paper just can’t get into.

The small size, plus the star shape of the fibers, means they have greater surface area than other types of cleaning cloths. This makes them more absorbent than the average dust cloth or paper towel. They also generate a static electric charge that causes debris to stick to the cloth. Since many cleaners end up just smearing dirt around as they’re wiped across a surface, microfibers provide a far superior cleaning job.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis Medical Center compared the anti-microbial power of microfibers versus cotton. Cotton mops picked up 30% of the microbes, but microfiber mops removed 99%.

Even so, they’re softer than most other materials used for cleaning cloths, so they’re less likely to scratch your screens.

Finally, microfiber cloths require less water and chemicals. In fact, you can probably clean your remotes and screens thoroughly with microfibers without using any liquid. Fewer chemicals is a plus from health and environmental perspectives, as well as a cost saving. And of course moisture is not good for any electronic device. If you have reason to believe that your remote really needs disinfecting, spray the cloth — not the remote — with a vinegar and water mixture. You can also use an alcohol and water solution, but take the batteries out first.

Frequent wiping with a microfiber cloth will usually be sufficient.

Care for your microfiber cleaning cloths

Microfiber cloths are machine washable. However, if you wash them with cotton, they will grab the fibers and lose their integrity. Ideally, you’d wash your microfiber cloths in a separate load. Do you have enough microfiber cloths to make that a practical option? If not, you can wash them by hand.

You could also buy more. This may sound like an odd solution, but a bulk purchase of microfiber cleaning cloths is about the same price as a bulk purchase of paper towels. Get multiple colors and you can make sure to use one color only for cleaning the bathroom, one for the kitchen, one for dusting, and so forth, avoiding cross-contamination of surfaces.

If you just need a few and don’t care to hand wash, go ahead and wash them with your other laundry and be prepared to replace them more frequently.