According to Dictionary.com, microfiber is defined as very fine synthetic fiber with the properties, texture and use of any natural fiber. It is measured in deniers which is a unit of weight. As stated in an Ohio State University fact sheet on textiles, denier is the weight in grams of a 9000-meter length of fiber or yarn. One denier is equal to a single strand of silk and one microfiber is less than one denier in size. It is 100 times finer than a single strand of human hair.
Microfiber was originally invented in Japan by using a scientific spinning method invented by Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto at Toray Industries. This led to the first mass production of microfiber fabric to consumers under the brand name Ultrasuede. According to the website Fabrics.net during this complex process as many as 64 separate fibers would be dissolved together to form one microfiber. Microfibers are not visible to the human eye and can only be viewed under a microscope.
According to the Ohio State University fact sheet, microfibers posses a good balance between luxury and strength. The fine fibers "create a depth and a body to fabrics. Although fine and lightweight, they don't exhibit a flimsy quality." There is also a breathability with microfibers which is beneficial to those sitting for any length of time on a couch covered in this fabric.
Because microfiber is so densely woven it is a very durable fabric and water repellent both excellent benefits for a piece of furniture. Couches receive repeated use and the strength of microfiber can hold up to this. Also, because many individual microfibers form strands there is more surface available which allows richer, brighter and deeper colors to the consumer.
Microfiber couches will have tags located underneath the seat cushions with cleaning instructions. The main cleaning codes for microfiber are W, S or S-W. W means you can use a water based cleaning product, S means you will need a solvent or professional dry cleaning solution, and S-W means you can use either type of cleaning product. Contact the furniture store where you made your purchase or the manufacturer if you need further guidance.