Can microfibre cloth aid us to fight novel corona?

As the name implies, microfiber cloths consist of microscopic fibers, smaller than 1 micrometer (μm) in thickness. Such cloths consist of synthetic fibers, which are usually 300 nanometers thick and comprise of polyester and polyamide, 50% of each. These fibers often have tiny nanoscales, each with a diameter of less than 100 nm. But can microfibre aid coronavirus?

Such cloths are perfect for trapping soil because of their microscopic construction. Thanks to the fact that these microfiber cloths are often incorporated in cleaning lenses and screen surfaces while buying mobile phones, cameras, LED TVs and so on, these clothes are ready in households for sale. Microfiber clothing is also quite cheap and can be reused as many times as you like after washing.

Comparing microfibre with cotton fabric, cotton clothes have natural cellulose fibers ranging from 11,000 to 22,000 nm in thickness. Furthermore, cellulose fibers are smooth, free of slits, or grooves.

Why Microfiber?

Johannes Diderik van der Waals
Johannes Diderik van der Waals credit: Wikipedia.com

Microfiber cloths are so effective in capture of microscopic dirt and dust because they depend on the of Van der Waal‘s forces named after Johannes Diderik Van der Waal, Nobel laureate from 1910 in Leiden, Netherlands, after his discovery. Such forces are extreme electrostatic binding forces that utilize the dipole-dipole interactions of loaded molecules (it can be seen to be like “molecular magnetization”).

Note that the same force as the Van der Waal allows the lizard (gecko), which is just 200 nm in height, to move on surfaces, since the foot of the lizards is made up of superfine spatula-like braids called screws.

The nanotechnology scientists at Lizards setae have developed a range of synthetic materials to utilize the powers of van der Waal, including sticky self-adhesive notes such as post-IT, sticky durable labels such as Scotch, dry erase stickers, dry glues, etc. The so-called biomimetics is such a natural design of synthetic materials (image of the biology).

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Can microfibre aid corona?

Microfiber cloths are obvious examples of biomimicry; fabrics emulate lizard setae and use the powers of the van der Waal and pick up the soil. The nano-scale grooves tend to capture ultra-fine dust particles and allow them the best alternative to clean a wide variety of surfaces. Furthermore, these garments require no costly solutions to complete the work; it would be sufficient to scrap the surface with plain water.

At least two peer-reviewed studies have evaluated microfibre clothes viral removal potentials compared to other materials. The Microfibre Cloth was found to be significantly more effectively removing virus particles than a terry towel in a 2012 study by a US team published in Applied Environmental Microbiology.

microfibre aid corona
Scanning electron microscopy images of fibrinogen (Fbg) microfibers. credit: https://www.researchgate.net/

In a 2013 study, published in the Food Protection Journal, the effectiveness of 4 tissue materials for the elimination of viruses from surfaces such as latex, plastic, stainless steel, and cucumber was compared by several Finnish scientists at the Helsinki University. Microfibre cloths were found to be much more successful than the rest of the sample.

SARS nCov-2
SARS nCov-2

The small grooves in the microfiber cloths are good materials for the preparation of home masks. The pore size of the N-95 industry norm, which medical practitioners like instead, is 300 nm. Note, however, that the size (the Coronavirus novel) of 2019 is between 50 and 200 nm.

By definition, these pores may be reached by the viral virus particles. Think of a fishing net that is far too wide to navigate through; these nets never achieve this function. The most common transmission of Coronavirus through sneeze is indicated by current evidence. Sneeze creates a super-fast small dung stream dubbed an ultra-fine droplet aerosol.

Most of these tiny droplets have a diameter of around 300 nm. As the N-95 pores are 300 nm, these masks help minimize the transmission of Coronavirus infections in the community. However, these masks are not currently available on the market due to large demand.

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Mask Alternative

What about regular homemade cotton-masks? Note that cellulose has a thickness of approximately 20,000 nm so that pores are naturally too large to be passed by all kinds of microbes including large bacteria. To order to absorb minute objects, the fibers must become soft. Although wearing cotton masks is better than none, as it will keep the face from continuously reaching your hands, the COVID-19 collective transmission could not be regulated by such masks very well.

It is easy to create a microfiber mask, only swap the cloth with a microfiber tissue. Two types of microfibers are available on the market, divided and not divided. Split microfibre clothing is meant for general laundry, whereas non-split clothing is softer and is used as a sheet, as it can be used as water to contain vast amounts (6 to 8 times its mass!). For mask manufacturing, separated microfibres are safer than broken since nanoscale grooves can capture the particles of the virus.

Instead of plastic filters, we can use carefully folded microfiber sweat as an insert to our standard cycling mask scaffold. The method of making homemade masks with only one piece of cloth and two rubber bands may be followed by the CDC. I also suggest that the skin is in contact with cotton rather than microfibre, to minimize irritation.

How safe Microfiber Musks are?

Unlike a good trapper, these microfiber cloths are too strong to hold the viruses if due precaution is not provided, as is the case for N-95 masks. Be sure that you will not contact the mask with bare hands for any use; if the mask is affected at all, wash your hands properly. Surveys found that steaming requires 15 minutes to remove particles of the virus. Computer cleaning the masks is easier than hand washing using gentle detergents.

Be sure that you do not use chlorine or cloth softness or fire, as it can kill the necessary Van der Waal powers and render the masks useless. When there are no washing machines, the washing of the hand is good, just do not use the detergent very much, because the detergent particles will get trapped inside the masks. It is advised to use gentle fluid detergent before sun drying and to rinse it at least 5 times in freshwater.

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