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Looking for scientific data and insight to Norwex cloth efficacy

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Good day, I have read much material on Norwex, microfiber in general, and alternative cleaning methods. My sources involve, the CDC website white papers (which specify a difference between cleaning and sanitation), Norwex private test data, university and hospital studies, many blogs, forums, and Reddit posts.

In most cases, nearly every post involving the name Norwex results in usually sly sales pitch replies from those involved in the Multi-Level Marketing company.

The Norwex pitch and tests are clearly bias and scientifically invalid, but is there any truth to it?

There are two main parts here:

  • microfiber vs cotton (obviously no contest, and microfiber wins)
  • colloidal silver (seems like snake oil)

The colloidal silver is nothing new, as it is used in anti-odor clothing.

Norwex does not promote the fact that cleaning with chemicals is made more greatly effective by the use of microfiber, but instead pushes the idea of using only water with the cloths and states the silver kills the bacteria and prevents proliferation. Since the silver would be removed during a wash cycle, it is recommended to hang them to dry.

This has resulted in many people attempting to go "green" and/or "organic", thinking that their new cleaning system is not simply spreading filth and sickness around as well as leaving microorganism biofilm unaffected.

As you can tell, I am a skeptic, and very much grossed out by the thought of this MLM product and what I believe to be snake-oil tactics taking advantage of naturalists.

If you are biologically educated, can you please provide insight to prove or disprove their claim to fame? I am willing to do my own tests, but unsure of the proper method for growing in a Petri dish at this time. I need to do more research. Thanks!

Reason for Concern:

I am a post-transplant, Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia survivor, concerned about public facility sanitation practices that fall victim to marketing tactics pitched to organic movement followers.

Other Supporting Info:

Our state and county local sanitation guidelines do not specifically state what is required to properly sanitize with or without chemicals, nor which chemicals are required to remove specific viruses, bacteria, and their biofilms.

Personal Thoughts:

My personal belief (which I am looking to validate or disprove), is that CDC and other testing and recommendations were demonstrating the efficacy of split microfiber as opposed to legacy methods with cotton and excessive use of hazardous chemicals. My belief is that periodic maintenance based cleaning should be performed with citrus or other organic cleaners in conjunction with split microfiber materials in order to effectively remove most bacteria. Bleach should still be used periodically (based on use of facility) to "sanitize" and kill viruses and bacteria with resilient biofilms. Frequency of cleaning and sanitation should be increased in relation to the amount of use the facility experiences as well as the number of children that could be affected, and diseases that may be transmitted. The practice of wiping down a soiled surface with split microfiber and water, and then hanging it up to dry in hopes that the silver impregnated material will kill the bacteria, let alone clean the cloth, seems to be a misplaced trust and hazardous. Periodic cleaning of the rags is not enough, and even after one cleaning, the amount of silver removed would most likely render any original benefit null from being washed away.

Thank you

Edited by raredesign

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It is somewhat complex but there are studies in hospitals specific to bacterial loads. Starting with silver, the antibacterial properties are well known. However, it will just reduce the load of bacteria in the cloth. If maintaining low bacterial load is critical, it is recommended to use single-use towels, anyway. Otherwise you will have to desinfect your cloth (e.g. by steam sterilization) at which point the silver won't offer a lot of advantages. It will probably have a lower bacterial load than other towels if it is just rinsed out. In some cases, where high loads are expected, silver can assist in removing/killing them, as found in a study with microfiber mops (De Lorenzi et al. 2011 15:3 Bra J Inf Diseases)


Now to hospital studies. There are a few out there that look for efficient cleaning/desinfection of surfaces without exposing patients or custodians to a lot of chemicals. Here it was often found that steam cleaning in conjunction with microfiber cloth works quite well, although there are also differences between the quality of the cloth (though still better than cotton in all cases).

See e.g. Gillespie et al 2015 41:5 Am J Inf Control.


Overall, it is relevant to determine how the cleaning is done, what is being cleaned and how the cloth is treated after use. I.e. even using plenty of chemicals, surface are not necessarily free of bacteria, if it is not done right. E..g. letting bleach act on bacteria and fungi before wiping them off, for example.

Edited by CharonY

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"Norwex does not promote the fact that cleaning with chemicals is made more greatly effective by the use of microfiber, but instead pushes the idea of using only water with the cloths and states the silver kills the bacteria and prevents proliferation. Since the silver would be removed during a wash cycle, it is recommended to hang them to dry." 

the above is a direct quote from you. 

Norwex does not state that the silver in the cloths kills the bacteria. It does say however that the silver is an, "EPA approved antimicrobial additive for self-cleansing purposes only.  The agent is solely designed to inhibit bacterial odor, mold and/or mildew growth within the product." 

You are correct about the silver washes out in the washing cycle, however, the dissolution of silver from the Norwex microfiver is veru small- less than 1 mg over the entire lofe of the microfiber. By comparison, we consume that amount of silver-naturally found in our water and food-over the course of 30 days. 

Norwex agrees microfiber is the best to clean with. General microfiber is cut down to 1/6th the size of a single human hair. And designed to be used with effective, but toxic chemicals cleaners.

Norwex microfiber is designed for use with water, it is cut down to 1/200th the size of a human hair, there is also more than ten million feet of microfiber in one of the main cleaning cloths, (the envirocloth), this density + smallness of the fibers is what allows the Norwex microfiber to pick up and remove everything from the surface by wiping with just water! 

After an overload of bacteria, say cleanjng toilets or wiping up lots of raw meat juices, Norwex does indeed suggest to send it through a wash cycle, and to dry it in the dryer.

For light cleaning jobs, without an overload of bacteria, Norwex says to rinse and scrub the cloth against itself under hot water, and hang to dry for multiple uses. As the cloth dries, the silver will self sanitize the cloth making it ready for the next use. Hope this helps explain! 

Sadie Powell 


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The colloidal Ag here merely refers to the integrity of the wipe and featuring it is pretty suspect.  Reminds of Microban's very suspect claims for triclosan in so many plastic items. Norwex appears to be a mulitlevel marketing bunch and their website description below appears to focus on odor and mildew growth - rather than absolute microbial quality..  Considering your post-transplant status - do not think this product is so useful as cleaning with traditional EPA registered biocides.  Used appropriately, they're no more 'hazardous" than citrus oil.  There's nothing  magic about citrus cleaners but do use cleaners from major companies.   "Natural" and even more so "Organic" cleaners esp. smaller companies that are focused on the claim and don;t have enough experience to ensure quality with manuf controls and preservation can be associated with microbial.contamination (e.g. https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/Dr-Browns-Natural-Bottle-Dish-Soaps-Recalled-by-Handi-Craft-Company). 

*Contains BacLock™, an antibacterial agent for self-cleansing purposes only. The agent is solely designed to inhibit odor from bacteria, mold and/or mildew growth within the product."

Edited by PhilGeis

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I realize that this posted question about Norwex is a few years old, and I'm guessing that your findings on Norwex are resolved. However, since you have serious health concerns regarding safe cleaning products, I have a suggestion for you to look into. Benefact is the disinfectant that I've been using since our home was professionally remediated for toxic mold (Aspergillus penecillium and Stachybotrus chartarum). The remediation crew used it in their extensive process, and the company that conducted our air tests (spore count and identification) also recommended it. Furthermore, I saw it in the custodial closet at our local hospital. The attached disinfectant comparison chart by NH Department of Education includes Benefact in its research, available online to download as pdf. It is expensive, $60 CAD for 4 liter jug. I use it because third party research consistently confirms its efficacy, and its plant based formula does not exacerbate the chemical sensitivity brought on by toxic mold exposure (nuerotoxin- slow recovery at best).


Edited by JJK
Accidentally duplicated material

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As the EPA notes (https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-course-chapter-1 ), there is no such thing as "toxic mold" - this is remediation marketing hype.  Further, that mycotoxins (assume the "neurotoxin reference above) cause pathology in household context  is suspect - the major CDC publication claiming this was withdrawn when data were reexamined.  Doesn't say it can't be  and folks can certainly get sick from mold infested residences - just that the mycotoxin data are sketchy and not compelling.

There's nothing special about Benefact - other than the "green" claim.  It's a thyme oil disinfectant that works as well as other EPA - registered disinfectants.  Third party research  "confirmation "of efficacy as a disinfectant is irrelevant - EPA requires demonstration of efficacy as made and after storage in appropriate testing and registers facilities making the product to ensure consistency and is much more rigorous in this demand.

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