A microfiber towel is a piece of cloth made of polyamide, polyester, or a combination of these fabrics. Each fiber used in the towel is smaller than a single silk strand. Polyamide is a synthetic polymer made from petroleum-based plastics. It’s made of extremely long and heavy molecules with repeating units linked by amide bonds.
Polyamide was one of the first synthetic fabrics discovered before the first World War. The American chemical corporation DuPont patented this in the 1930’s and then produced polyamides commercially first in 1938.
Polyamide fabric is widely used in the textile and apparel industry to make a multitude of commercial products. Both polyamide and nylon are polymers that can be classified as plastics. Polyamide fabric is strong, elastic, and lightweight. It’s a completely synthetic material so it’s resistant to attacks from insects, moths, molds, fungi, and many everyday chemicals.
Polyamide usually doesn’t resist harsh chemicals though. It will melt in phenol, acids, and many others. This is also one of the reasons why you should never use a fabric softener on your Microfiber cloths.
Polyester is a name for a synthetic, man-made polymer, called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It is made by mixing ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. That all sounds scientific, but basically, polyester is a kind of plastic. Polyester is very durable and is resistant to many chemicals, making it the perfect partner to Polyamide.
Now that we know what Microfiber cloths are made from, we can look at choosing the right one for the right job!
What Makes a Quality Microfiber Towel?
Density / Weight
We have all at some stage heard the term GSM, lets have a look at exactly what that means:-
All microfibers are rated with a GSM (grams per square meter) rating. The economy grade cloth is typically a 200-250 GSM rating, and the professional grade quality is 300 GSM and above. The higher the GSM the thicker, plushier, and generally softer the towel will be.
Another determination of quality is the blend ratio of polyester to polyamide, usually listed as a fraction such as 70/30 or 80/20. The first number represents the polyester and the second the polyamide. Polyester provides the structure of the towel. The polyamide increases density and absorption.
Edges – another very important factor in choosing the right Microfiber towel:-
Rough edges and hard threads can scratch or mar delicate surfaces. You want to look for a towel with a soft edge. It should either have a rolled edge, a clean cut edge referred to as edgeless or an edge covered in a soft material and thread. Edgeless being the safest.
Most commonly used for Drying a Vehicle:–
Waffle Weave towel or alternatively the Twisted loop fiber Towels, both have excellent water absorbency. However the Twisted loop towels have more split segments per fiber, therefore making it more absorptive.
Towels with a suede microfiber texture have a smooth and satiny feeling to them are ideal for polishing metal and chrome, cleaning glass and applying and flattening ceramic coatings. They are Excellent at removing dirt and oil from smooth surfaces.
Short vs Long Pile
Short Pile is ideal for use on non-sensitive surfaces like dashboards or plastic trims, leather and glass. Great for general purpose cleaning. a medium pile for applying or removing car wax, and a long pile for buffing and drying your vehicle. Short Pile microfiber cloths are generally between 200 and 350 GSM. The shorter the pile, the more all-purpose the towel. You’ll notice that short-pile towels are more rigid, while long-pile towels are soft and plush.
Medium Pile microfiber towel is ideal to remove wax and can also be used for polish removal. They can also be used to remove water and are best for basic cleaning. Soft and gentle, Safe on most surfaces. Mostly used for application of spray waxes & quick detailers, wax & polish removal. Use on hard paints, wheels, exhaust tips, and glass. Medium Pile microfiber cloths are generally between 350 and 450 GSM.
Long Pile towels are the softest and are ideal for buffing. They are very absorbent and will shine up a finish without scratching it. Extremely soft, plush, and gentle, Safe on all surfaces. Used for application of spray waxes & quick detailers, wax & polish removal, waterless washes. Use on hard and soft paints, glass, and plastics.
Generally, thicker microfiber towels are better for car detailing. They absorb more wax and polish and are less likely to leave streaks behind.
You can find microfiber car towels in a variety of sizes, but the general sizing is 40 x 40 cm or 40 x 60 cm. Smaller, more lightweight towels are best for cleaning a vehicle’s interior as well as its mirrors and windows. Use larger towels for the exterior surface.
Before You Buy
Always consider your planned usage before purchasing a microfiber towel. The main purpose of a microfiber towel is to clean a vehicle’s surface area without leaving streaks or marks behind. The towel should be easy to use and not make your job harder than it should be.
The benefit of color-coding your microfiber towels is that you won’t accidentally transfer one product onto the wrong towel. It is easy to forget which towel you used on your rims, and you certainly do not want to transfer metal particles to your paintwork by washing the towel you used on your rims with the towel that you used to buff your car. For this reason it is advisable to color code your towels for specific uses and wash them separately.
Do not let the price of a Microfiber towel be the determining factor when you buy towels. Rather consider that better quality towels equal safer to use on a surface. Your car is an expensive investment, so also is a re-spray!
How to maintain microfiber towels
While these towels can add value to your carwash, it is important to take the proper maintenance steps to ensure that you get the most use out of them.
Always wash new microfiber towels to remove any loose fibers from the manufacturing process. Try to wash different colored new towels, such as red, black, and blue, separately to avoid color bleeding.
Once you have used your towels, separate them by use before washing to avoid contamination of the compounds that are now trapped in the towel. Washing doesn’t always remove everything from the towel. You don’t want cutting compound on your wax towel or wax on your drying towel.
Do not wash your towels with your regular laundry. You will contaminate the towels with lint and other foreign objects.
You don’t want to use a dry detergent or a detergent containing softeners because they leave behind residue deep in the split microfibers. Softeners can leave a waxy residue on the fibers and also reduce the positive static charge that makes microfiber so effective. Dry detergent do not always dissolve properly and the residue could remain between the fibers and scratch a painted surface. Rather use liquid detergents. There are also many dedicated Microfiber Cleaners available on the market, which are specially designed to dissolve polish, wax, etc. Consider adding one of these to your detergent to get the best cleaning results and extend the lifespan of your Microfiber Cloths.
If your towels contain heavy stains you can pre-soak them in an all-purpose cleaner and gently agitate before washing.
Drying microfiber towels safely
The towels also need to be dried properly. The towels can be dried in a dryer however ensure at no or very low heat, alternatively air dry in a dust free environment. Polyester in microfiber towels has a low melting point, and cannot handle the high heat and can melt the fibers together and become hard, resulting in scratching of a surface. Once the heat damage has been done it cannot be reversed.
Buy wisely and care wisely for your Microfiber products.