How To Clean Microfiber Towels For Car Detailing

How To Clean Microfiber Towels For Car Detailing

Cleaning your microfiber towels is an important part of car detailing, as these towels are some of the most versatile and effective tools in your arsenal. Unlike traditional cotton or terry cloth towels, microfiber towels are made from specially engineered materials that make them extremely absorbent and durable.

Why is it important to clean your microfiber towels properly?

One of the main reasons why it is important to clean your microfiber towels regularly is that they can easily become dirty and accumulate dirt, debris, and other contaminants over time. This can reduce their performance, making them less effective at absorbing liquids or dust and leaving behind streaks on your car's surface.

In addition to regular cleaning, it is also important to wash your microfiber towels using the proper techniques. This includes using warm or cold water rather than hot water, as hot water can degrade the material over time and cause it to lose its effectiveness. You should also avoid drying your microfiber towels on high heat settings, as this can lead to excess friction and wear and tear over time.

What are the different types of microfiber detailing towels?

There are several different types of microfiber detailing towels available, each of which is designed for a specific purpose. For example, a pearl weave towel is ideal for removing wax, ceramic coatings, and polish from larger surfaces, while a plush microfiber cloth can be used for detail sprays and rinseless washes. General utility microfibers are great for detailing interior surfaces, cleaning wheels, cleaning leather or vinyl, and much more. They can be a workhorse and do quite a lot so utility towels are a detailer's friend. Good glass cleaning towels come in a waffle weave pattern and are extremely good for glass and even drying a vehicle since the waffles capture dirt and water very well. Other common types of microfiber products include polishing and compounding pads, applicators, and wash mitts.

What are microfiber towels made from?

Microfiber towels are made from a special blend of synthetic materials, including polyester and polyamide. These materials are highly absorbent and durable, making them ideal for use in car detailing. In addition to their excellent absorption capabilities, microfiber towels also offer excellent scratch resistance and resistance to chemicals and staining. Because of these properties, microfiber towels have become the preferred choice of detailers around the world. Microfibers come in different blends polyester and polyamide like 80/20 or 70/30. The different blends offer different properties that can be useful for different detailing tasks. One example is a detailer who wants to clean and protect plastic and rubber surfaces and might prefer a microfiber made with more polyester because it has more abrasive properties than one made with polyamide. Polyamide is more absorbent and much better for drying towels and washing towels as they can hold more water.

What do you need to properly wash your microfiber towels?

All you need for washing your microfiber towels is a mild detergent, warm water, and a clean wash basin or bucket. You should also avoid using fabric softeners, as these can leave behind a residue that can reduce the absorbency of your towels. If you are using detergent, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to properly use and dilute the product. We do prefer dedicated microfiber towel detergents like P&S Rags to Riches, 3D Towel Kleen, and there are many more like these. You do not always need a dedicated microfiber detergent and can use a detergent like Tide Clean & Clear. This clear detergent cleans well but does not has a bunch of perfumes and softeners in it which is perfect for cleaning microfibers. You can see our favorite microfiber detergents on our blog.

How often should you wash your detailing towels?

You should wash your microfiber towels after each use to remove any dirt, debris, or other contaminants that may have accumulated on them. The sooner you can clean them after use the easier it will be to clean them fully. If you reuse your microfiber towels without cleaning them you can potentially create swirls on paint or mar the surface because of contaminants being embedded in the towel and then being dragged across the paint. You may also transfer dirt and contaminants to other areas of your car instead actually cleaning the area you are working in. Overall, you are creating more work for yourself so just wash your towels and use clean towels every time you clean and detail a vehicle.

Can you pretreat your microfibers before washing them?

Yes, you can pretreat your microfiber towels before washing in order to help remove stubborn stains and contaminants like dirt, grease, or polish. There are a number of different pretreatment methods that you can try, such as spraying the towels with a diluted detergent solution or soaking them in a bucket of warm water with some cleaning product added. However, it is important to always test any pretreatment method on an inconspicuous area of your towel before using it on other parts of the cloth. This will help ensure that the treatment won't cause any damage to the fabric. Additionally, always be sure to wash your microfiber towels separately from other types of clothes and fabrics, as they may contain substances that could harm their performance. We highly recommend pretreating your microfibers as soon as you finish your project. This prevents long-term build up and will extend the life of your towels. You can let them sit in your pretreat bucket or basin for days and not have to stress about washing them immediately. You can also soak and prewash your polishing pads this way!

What are the steps to washing microfiber detailing towels?

  1. Shake your towels out and make sure they are not excessively dirty. Towels covered in oil, grease, ceramic or graphene residue, or another nasty contaminant should be thrown away. A dirty towel may ruin your other towels or damage a vehicle because they are too far gone.
  2. Separate your towels by function and only wash similar towels together so you do not cross-contaminate your towels. Paint polishing, wax removal, and sealant microfibers should not be washed with your all-purpose utility towels or towels you use on wheels and tires. Having a separate presoak bucket or laundry bin for each category of your towels makes it easy!
  3. Fill a clean bucket with warm water and add a mild detergent or set your washing machine to warm or cold water. DO NOT USE HOT WATER! Microfiber towels are made of plastic-like fibers that can melt or become brittle under extreme heat. This can make them scratchy and can may create swirls on your painted or shiny surfaces.
  4. If using a concentrated microfiber towel wash like P&S Rags to Riches, follow the instructions on how to properly use the product. You should not need a large amount of detergent to properly wash your microfibers. Too much detergent can leave residue on your detailing towels and may not improve the cleaning process. If you pretreat and prewash your microfibers in a bucket, wash bin, or even on a presoak setting in your washing machine you will not need as many ounces of detergent.
  5. Submerge your microfiber towels in soapy water and agitate them gently to loosen any dirt or debris that may be clinging to them. If you are washing your towels by hand in a bucket you can add a grit guard to help trap the dirt at the bottom of the bucket much like using the Two-Bucket Wash Method. If you are using a washing machine stop the machine after it is done agitating the towels to allow them to soak for 15 to 30 minutes or even longer if you like. This will help the detergent break down stubborn dirt or stains and can really improve the cleaning of your microfibers. 
  6. Rinse the towels thoroughly with clean, warm or cool water to remove any soap residue if you are hand washing your microfibers. If you need to you can rewash them in a bucket of clean water with a little more detergent and repeat until you achieve the desired level of cleanliness you are aiming for.
  7. Once your microfiber towels have been washed, it is important to dry them properly. Hang the towels up to air dry, or run them in your dryer on low or no heat. This will help them dry without melting the fibers in the towels which would make them scratch soft clear coats much easier. Remember not to use a dryer sheet or fabric softener as that will affect the performance of the microfibers and are already soft so they do not need to be treated like your clothes.

What are the best ways to store your microfiber detailing towels?

It is important to store your clean microfiber towels in a clean and dry place. Do not store them in direct sunlight or in humid areas as this can cause the towels to mildew, mold, and prematurely fade and break down. We recommend storing your clean microfiber towels in a clean plastic bin or in a dedicated cabinet in your garage. Plastic bins and plastic storage drawers are nice because they can help keep your detailing towels clean, and dry, and are easy to see and organize. Plastic bins are usually very inexpensive and widely available at big box stores and come in many sizes to fit your needs. You can also transport them easily if you are a mobile detailer or need to move them out of the way after you are done pampering your ride. Cabinets are a nice option if you have the space and can keep your towels dry and dust-free. A nicely organized towel cabinet like Rick from Rad Garage has is an amazing edition to any detailer's garage as it makes your towels a centerpiece for your work area.

When should you replace your detailing towels?

You should replace your microfiber detailing towels when you notice that they are no longer performing as well as they used to or if they are physically damaged. Microfiber towels that are frayed or torn may still be good for really dirty jobs on engine bays, wheels, etc., and then can get pitched but you do not want fuzz or material falling off on your highly visible surfaces. If you have ceramic coated or graphene coated a vehicle, motorcycle, set of wheels, or a windshield, then the microfiber towels you used should be discarded or moved to a different cabinet. The ceramic and graphene chemicals will crystalize on the towels and will make them feel like shards of glass are in the towels. Do not take a chance and use these on your car, throw them away so you do not accidentally harm a vehicle's surfaces. The ceramic compounds crystalize and can scratch paint, black piano finishes, and entertainment screens very easily.  

Should you wash new microfiber towels?

Yes, you should always wash new microfiber towels before using them. This is because the manufacturing process can pick up contaminates and more often they may have a lot of fuzz on them. This fuzz can ruin your hard work on a ceramic coating or can make glass cleaning a chore and really frustrating. The little fuzz will stick anywhere it can so wash your new towels when you get them and you will not have to worry. 

How long do microfiber detailing towels last?

This is a great question and the answer may surprise you. Microfiber towels can last for years if taken care of properly. We have heard from detailers that have been using the same set of towels for over 5 years with no issues. Some manufacturers claim a microfiber towel can last up to 500 washes which is quite a lot. The key to prolonging the life of your towels is to wash them separately from other things, do not use hot water or fabric softeners, and air dry or use low heat in the dryer. If you follow these simple steps you can easily get years out of a single set of microfiber towels.

Caring for your microfiber towels is important if you want to get the most out of them. By following these simple tips you can extend the life of your towels. If you want more detailing tips and tricks make sure you follow GloveBox Detail on YouTube and Instagram or check our blog often for the latest news and advice in the detailing world.