Microfiber Towels: Right Tool for the Right Job

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microfiber towel auto detail

The When, Why, and How to use Microfiber Towels

My father taught me a long very long time ago that any job is easier when you have the right tool. He was a very good carpenter, so he knew! For Auto Detailers – both Pro and DIYers, ditch the paper towels and equip yourself with the right tool for car cleaning: lightweight microfiber towels.

Apply that “right tool” belief to Auto Detailing, and the same rule is true: the right tool for the job makes it easier – and with a better result! Inside the world of Auto Detailing, there are many specialized techniques – that’s why you’re here. However, there are many very specialized products that make a difference as well.

The Microfiber Towel is a Very Important Tool to Professional Cleaners

Today, we’ll take a look at microfiber towels, sometimes called microfiber cloths: what they are, how to use them in the best ways, and how to care for them to get the best possible ongoing results.


What are Microfiber Towels?

You mean, besides magic? Frankly, they are just about the perfect towel!

How Microfiber cloth works Auto Detailer Directory

Courtesy Wikipedia

Yep. The magic comes from insanely fine synthetic fibers that make thread about 20% the width of human hair. With that size comes specialized properties sometimes called “intra weave technology” that is perfect for auto detailers.

Those characteristics allow the creation of microfiber towels that have an unfair advantage in cleaning. They are manufactured with the fibers split. The splitting process creates a more “porous” texture. Microfiber drying towels often come in a waffle weave for even more gripping texture to acheive lint-free cleaning.

That’s a key benefit of microfiber towels crucial to auto detailing. Microfiber towels do not leave lint, like those made of cotton. Wipe it clean… and it’s really clean!

Getting Started with New Microfiber Towels

There are some who swear by washing towels in a sort of “ammonia, vinegar, hot water…” soup to get started with new towels.


No need to “break them in.” Today’s premium microfiber towels don’t need it. However, instead of using any kind of new towel out of the box, it’s always a good idea to give them a wash first. You just never know if there’s any sort of dust or grit captured in them from the manufacturing or shipping process.

Wash (and Dry) With Care

When washing microfiber towels, it’s good to stay away from detergents that have any sort of fabric softeners or scents. Remember from our “Microfiber Magic” discussion above, the reason they are great for auto detailers is they grab all sorts of dirt. That includes the chemicals in detergents that soften or scent.

Just washing them with those products can “clog” them up.

Find a liquid detergent that really doesn’t have much of anything except soap. No sense buying expensive detergent for your auto detailing towels when you don’t want the additives.

When drying, it’s good to avoid the hottest settings. Since the synthetic yarn could be affected by high temperature, cooler drying temperatures should help them last much longer. For the same reason, you OCD types should avoid ironing them as well.

How to Use Microfiber Towels

Before we get into the tactics for managing your microfiber towel arsenal, let’s talk about wearing them out. That may seem backward, but it is a very important aspect to keep in mind right from the beginning.

We’ve already learned just how good microfiber towels are for picking up impurities. After all, that’s why we use them. Remember, it is that excellent cleaning quality that will wear them out. It’s the microscopic grit and impurities that clog them up. It will not just wear the fabric, but can reduce the quality of the job for which they are being used.

The advice? Keep towel age in mind. Buy a supply at one time, and keep those towels together, rotating them with each use. When they are worn, repurpose them as a group, replacing them with a new group. Make sure you reserve the newest towels for your most high-profile needs.

A Microfiber Towel for Every Job

There is a microfiber towel for any specific need. Whether you need a basic towel or a premium quality one for special work. Aligning the quality, age, and condition can save you money, too. By maintaining certain jobs for certain towels, the best can be used longer, and the rattier ones can be used for rattier jobs.

Keep Calm and Color Code

Having a way to sort your dirty microfiber towels is the first step toward keeping them organized by job and grouped together for aging and life-cylce management.

There is also a very good reason for this initial step. It allows you to launder in convenient (and towel-friendly) batches to virtually eliminate cross-contamination. If the nasty bits don’t see the nicer towels, the nicer towels are much better off.

Use an array of small boxes to separate the different colors for each specific task. When the box is full, wash all colors together. You may be thinking, “Wow! That could be a lot of towels. I just take care of my car, my wife’s and her Mom’s. Remember that you’ll want to run full loads of laundry using the inexpensive detergent mentioned above. Why not have enough towels to do that efficiently in full loads?

Best Tool (And Color!) For the Job

Beyond the organizational reason for multiple colors of microfiber towels, there’s a functional reason as well. The darker the job, the darker the color. Let’s explore that strategy.

• Black or Dark Blue for Dirt and Grime

Whenever you work on tires, exterior areas around the wheel wells, your engine compartment, and other grimy areas, consider black or any very dark color. It won’t matter much if the microfiber towel has some retained dirt, brake dust, or stains. For this use, you’re working with your dirtiest areas anyway.

For these jobs, less expensive, lower quality microfiber towels are just fine. You wouldn’t want to invest in high quality for the worst possible use case.

• Lighter Colors for Finish Work

When using lighter colors on interiors, you prevent a dark color to transfer from the towel to your leather. You also can see when a lighter colored towel begins to pick up impurities over time. Although being cleaned thoroughly between uses, eventually, even the best microfiber towels will need to be sent down to the “dark pile” minor league.

• White for Glass and Chrome

Here’s the highest and most visible (no pun intended) use for high quality microfiber towels. When wiping glass and chrome, you want the cleanest towel possible. No grit. No impurities.

How do you do that?

For best results, use a towel that allows you to see the point where it is time to send it down to a farm team. Depending on how it is soiled, you might consider either the “Lighter Colors” pile or even the “Black or Dark Colors.”

Are you seeing why you have that array of sorting boxes?

Other Uses for Old, Used Towels

When white towels migrate to the lighter color bin, and those migrate to the darker color bin, you eventually have a growing number old, ratty towels in various colors. Remember, those are your lowest quality group and the uses are somewhat limited, if not rough in nature.

If you have an overwhelmingly nasty job (in the garage or around the home) use the worst of the worst knowing you will just throw it away when done. Sometimes, it really isn’t a good idea to try to wash a towel if it has heavy grease, chemicals, or… well… other nasty stuff.

Are All Purpose Microfiber Towels Worth It?

We would have to give a resounding YES! Old bath towels might have their place for water removal as a basic car wash towel. However, microfiber car cloths are the place to be for that special clean that comes from an Auto Detailer who is in the know!

Trap Dirt with All Types of Microfiber Towels

As you’ve learned, microfiber towels have an unfair advantage over the run-of-the-mill towels you might have hanging around your garage. Sure, there’s a bit of an investment to get enough of the various colors you wish to use. However, the results of using the proper tool for the job will speak for themselves.

Car detailing is like any other project: specific detailing tasks are easier and come out better when a premium quality microfiber towel is used.

Give yourself an unfair advantage!

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