Must Have Microfiber Towels
Microfiber towels - the most overlooked tool in your detailing arsenalI think it's fair to say, when it comes to detailing cars, most of us focus on things like, polishers, compounds and polishes, ceramic coatings, foaming soap and foam guns, etc., and microfiber towels are kind of lost in list. The thing is however, in order to use any of the tools and/or products I just listed, you need microfiber towels and LOTS of them.
Not enough towelsIn my experience,e I would say that when it comes to detailing a car, and even more so when it comes to detailing boats or high-end RV's, most people don't have and thus don't use enough microfiber towels or buffing pads. More on buffing pads in a future article, the topic of this article is about having enough microfiber towels and great microfiber towels at that.
When it comes to detailing, there are absolutely, some must-have microfiber towels to leverage the most out of your time and hard work. Here's a list of what I use when I detail cars and I think everyone should have in their microfiber towel arsenal.
Orange Brushed Edgeless 365 Premium Microfiber Terry Towel
- Size: 16 x 16 Inches (41 cm x 41 cm)
- Blend: 70% Polyester / 30% Polyamide Material
- Weight: 365 GSM (Grams per Square Meter)
- Border/ Edging: Ultrasonic Cut Edge
- Material: 100% Split Microfiber
- Absolutely Clearcoat Paint-Safe
- No Borders, sewn edges or tags = Scratch-free, consistent performance
- Long lasting quality microfiber material hold up to hundreds of washing and drying
- Dual Fiber Length Construction - Short plush fibers on one side, perfect for removing compounds, polishes and waxes. Flat weave on the other side, optimal for working with ceramic coatings.
Short but plush fibers
5-Pack $19.99 or 25-Pack $69.99
Gold 360 Microfiber Towel
Like the Orange Brushed Edgeless 365 Premium Microfiber Towel, this Gold 360 Microfiber Towel offers two different styles and of microfiber construction. The fluffy side works great for use with spray detailers, waterless washes, or when using the multi-towel wash method instead of using wash mitts. The flat weave side works great for removing traditional waxes and paint sealants.
Gold 360 Microfiber Towels
3-Pack $14.99 6-Pack $24.99 10-Pack $39.99
McKee's 37 Ultra-Wipe Edgeless Microfiber Towel
The Ultra-Wipe Edgeless Microfiber Towel is made with a 75/25 blend of polyester and polyamide. This towel is also a two different styles of fibers lengths, one side is has a short fiber length that is incredibly plush and perfect for any paint related detailing work from removing compounds and polishes to spreading and removing spray-on products like spray detailer, spray waxes and waterless washes. The flat weave side is perfect for leveling ceramic coatings and the final wipe to remove any excess coating or high spots.
Short plush nap is perfect for paint related tasks but I like for interior detailing
Personal recommendationWhile this towels is great for any paint related detailing tasks, where I like to use it is for interior detailing. The bright white color reveals all the dirt and grime you remove from interior surfaces like leather, vinyl and plastic. The bright white color also reveals when the surface is completely and thoroughly clean as you can see by the lack of dirt color coming off the surface, thus you know you've cleaned the surface perfectly and can move on to new territory.
McKee's 37 Spider Glass Towel
When it comes to cleaning glass you want a towel that works well to loosen and remove things like vinyl fog, fingerprints, smudges, pet slobber, and the worst kind of cleaning, removing smoker's film. You also want a microfiber towel that never leaves LINT behind! The extra tight ribbed weave of the McKee's 37 Spider Glass Towel works great for scrubbing smooth glass surfaces and just as important - it will never leave the super annoying lint behind like so many other glass towel options.
McKee's 37 Spider Glass Towels
Single towel $3.99 - 3-Pack $17.97 - 10 Pack $59.90
The three keys to make glass cleaning fast and easy are,
- Great glass cleaner.
- The correct microfiber design and construction.
- Lots of towels.
The last item in the above bullet list is lots of towels and this is why use and recommend others to have plenty of glass towels on hand because it makes the job of getting streak-free results faster and more consistent. When using a great glass cleaner and a great glass towel, you remove whatever the offending contaminant is off the glass surface. Now it's on the towel. The mistake most people make is not having enough towels so they try to continue using the same towel they started with and this leads to cross-contamination. Cross contamination is taking the smudges or contamination off one section of glass (successfully), and then transferring it to the next section of glass resulting in glass streaks, smears and frustration.
The real secret to consistently getting streak-free, perfectly clear glass is simply having plenty of towels on hand for job. I strongly recommend getting the 10-pack option for 2 reasons.
1: A 10-pack means you have plenty of towels to do the job right.
Cars, trucks and especially SUVs, have a LOT of glass surfaces to clean. Here's a summary of just the glass on the inside just to jog your memory, Inside windshield, (the most important part of a car to clean for safety reasons), side window glass, rear window glass, vanity mirrors, rear view mirror and the often times overlooked glass window - the panoramic glass in the roof. (that's a lot of glass).
2: Make a dedicated glass-towels-only wash load
With a 10-pack or more of dedicated glass cleaning towels, you can justify making a small to medium wash load washing ONLY glass towels. By washing glass towels with themselves, you reduce contaminating the fibers of the glass towels with other common products removed off the car via a microfiber towels, mostly things that are not water soluble, like coatings, waxes and sealants.
Substances that are not water soluble will contaminate your glass towels making them less absorbent and less adsorbent. For this reason, purchase enough glass towels that you feel comfortable making dedicated wash loads washing and then drying - only glass towels. You'll see the difference over time.
Microfiber Drying TowelsIf you think about it, the most common thing most of us do to our cars, trucks, vans and suvs, is we wash them and we dry them to keep them clean as well as preserve the paint and all the other materials commonly found on the outside of a car like, plastic, metal trim, rubber, glass and in the case of convertibles, either canvas cloth or vinyl tops.
The act of washing a car is the act of moving a wash mitt over the exterior surface of the vehicle. It's important to use clean, high, high quality and uncontaminated wash mitts, more on that below. Just as important is to use clean, quality uncontaminated drying towels.
Contaminated root cause of most swirls and scratches!The most common mistake I see people make when it comes to washing and drying their car is either their wash mitts are contaminated or their drying towels are contaminated and usually both are contaminated an this leads to swirls and scratches in the clearcoat paint and also any of the plastic components like the Piano Plastic trim found on most vehicles today.
Microfiber excels at removing detailing productsThe reason we all love microfiber and no longer using things like t-shirts, diapers, bath towels that have been cut into smaller chunks, is because microfiber work much better at removing the things we use on our cars, like compounds, polishes, waxes, spray detailers, etc. Not only does microfiber work better over traditional and historic types of wiping cloths, but microfiber is more gentle to clearcoat paints which although harder than traditional single stage paints like lacquer and enamel, still scratch very easily.
The good, the bad and the uglyIn the same way microfiber works really great to GRAB onto and lock onto its surface things like compounds, polishes, spray detailers, etc., microfiber also grabs onto and locks onto itself or into its fiber weave, the things we don't want on our towels, things like leaves, sticks, dead bugs, dirt, airborne contamination and pollution. These types of contaminants will bury into the weave of a microfiber towel and get lodge their so tightly they don't come out when wash and dry your towels.
This is where swirls and scratches come fromOver time, when you look at your car in bright sunlight, you'll normally see lots of swirls and scratches in the clearcoat finish. The question is? Where do these come from? The answer is, from anything sharp, abrasive or pokey, that touches the paint. And it is my experience from detailing cars since the 1970s and teaching car detailing classes as a profession since the 1980s, that the most common culprit for swirls and scratches in your car comes from contaminated wiping towels, wash mitts and drying towels. More about this topic later.
2 great microfiber drying towels for removing water off your carHere are two great drying towels that are VERY VERY different. One towel has a luxurious long single strand fiber design, (not a closed loop design). The other towel option has a flat weave design. Both towels work great but the towel with the rich, plush long fiber construction requires more attention to maintain contaminant free than the towel with the flat weave design.
I'll share both below, but the secret to keeping the towel with the long fiber length safe for drying your car is to always keep it off the ground or from touching the ground, and have a clean place to store it until you're ready to wash and dry it.
McKee's 37 Glacier 1100 Drying Towel
The Glacier offers a 1100 GSM or Grams per Square Meter, in sheer mass. This means it's a HEAVYWEIGHT drying towel compared to all other options. One strand of fiber in the Glacier 1100 is over 100 times smaller than a human hair. With over 200,000 strands per square inch, this massive volume of microscopic fibers is what the Glacier 1100 is able to absorb so much water and absorb it quickly.
2 towels sewn togetherAnother unique design feature is this single towel is actually two towels sewn together, this makes it super thick plus together with the massive volume of microscopic fibers is why it works so well to remove standing water of your car like crazy!
The Glacier 11 Drying Towel is available in 3 sizes
16 x 16 inches
20 x 30 Inches
30 x 50 inches
While the huge 30 x 50" size can pretty much dry off an entire car by itself. It will completely remove all the standing water off the hood, roof and trunk lid in a single pass While it's great for the horizontal surfaces, I find it a too large to manage when drying the vertical panels like the doors and fenders. It's the vertical panels where as you get closer to drying the lower areas next to the ground you risk letting the 30 x 50 inch Glacier 1100 touch the ground and this risks contaminating the towel with whatever is on the ground, usually sticks, rocks, dirt, leaves, etc.
The smaller 16 by 16 inch and the medium of the road option, the 20 x 30 inch Glacier 11 drying towel are a lot easier to hold and manage when drying the sides of your car, truck or suv. The good news is, these towels are available in kit-form where you can get one of each here.
While I'm capable of managing the larger 30 x 50 size Glacier 11 Drying Towel, I find it just as fast and a lot easier to use the smaller size versions. The smaller sizes are also easier to wash, dry, fold and store.
16 x 24 Inch Dry Me a River Waffle Weave Towel
The design of the Dry Me a River, (a play on the saying, cry me a river), is the complete opposite of the McKee's 37 1100 Glacier Drying Towels. Instead of a rich, plush long fiber nap, this towel offers a flat waffle weave design. The fibers themselves are the highest quality split microfiber available from South Korea, the country that offers the best quality microfiber in the world.
Don't let the flat waffle weave design fool you, this towel can hold up to 10 times its weight in water! The really important difference about the flat waffle weave design is it's virtually impossible for this towel to become contaminated as the flat weave construction means no place for contaminants to bury into and hide.
Easy to hold and manageThe 16 x 24 inch size is large enough to remove plenty of water off your car and also easy to hold and manage as you're wiping both horizontal panels like the hood, roof and trunk lid as well as vertical panels like fenders and doors. It's also easy to wash, dry, fold and store for future use.
My recommendation?If you are CONFIDENT that you're the type of person that can keep a towel like the McKee's 37 Glacier 1100 Drying Towel from becoming contaminated, then I highly recommend this towel for removing water of your car after washing. Just be sure you have a solid protocol in place for managing used towels of all types. More on this topic in a future article.
If you like the idea of a drying towel you don't have to worry about becoming contaminated and then possibly instilling swirls and scratches into your car' finish, then go with the flat waffle weave design of the Cry me a River Towel. You can drop this towel on the ground, shake it really good and be confident that any dirt, sticks, leaves, etc., will freely fall off thus preventing contamination of this towel and any other towel this is washed and dried with.
Circling back to the topic I shared above about how the common thing most of us do to our vehicles is to wash and dry them. For example, I can't remember the last time I changed a set of spark plugs or even changed the oil and the oil filter, these maintenance tasks I turned over to the dealership years ago.
But washing? I actually like to wash my car, it's a form of relaxation plus, I much prefer to be seen driving around in a clean shiny car than a neglected, tatty looking dirty car. Washing my car on a Saturday morning before it gets to hot outside is also great way to stretch out your muscles and get your circulation going. So yeah, all kinds of upsides to washing your own car. Plus, during the process, you have a chance to find and identify any new damage like door dings, road tar, bird dropping etchings, water spots and any new rock chips that you can then address.
Two types of washing = Two types of wash mittsIf you're into detailing as an enthusiast, that is you see your vehicle as not only a means of transportation to get from point A to point B, but also as an expression of your personality, then like professional detailers, you know there are two types or two categorizes of car washing.
Prep Wash vs Maintenance WashThere are two general categories of car washing, there's the type of washing you do when you're getting a neglected car ready for detailing and they type of washing you do AFTER you have detailed your car and the car looks factory new.
Prep Wash Mitts
When I'm washing a car to prep it for detailing, for example I'm going to do paint correction to remove swirls, scratches, water spots and oxidation followed by either applying a coat of wax or installing a ceramic coating, then I'm washing the car in such a way as to get it super, surgically clean. Neglected cars tend to be dirtier than freshly detailed cars (or brand new cars), and don't have the build-up of traffic film on the paint, glass and other exterior surfaces. Neglected cars almost always need to be clayed to remove bonded contamination as well as chemically decontaminated to remove iron contamination and other types of industrial pollution and fallout that accumulates onto the exterior.
For this type of washing I much prefer and strongly recommend the McKee's 37 Premium Gold Micro-Chenille Wash Mitt.
Beside working great as a wash mitt, the other very important reason I like this type of wash mitt is because when you wash it in a washing machine, the individual caterpillar-like strands can swish around easily enabling any dirt or other contaminants to work free and flush off the microfiber surface.
Starting to see how my brain works? I'm hyper-focused on keeping ANYTHING that's going to touch the paint clean and uncontaminated so I reduce the risk for any accidentally putting in any swirls or scratches.
Here's a saying of mine,
It takes hours to buff out a car and only seconds to put scratches back into the finish -Mike Phillips
I've literally buffed out thousands of cars in my life, maybe tens of thousands? Hard to say, never thought to count all the cars I've worked since I was started detailing cars as a kid, but it's a lot. An average detail job, including washing and drying the car, doing any paint correction like compounding and polishing, sealing the paint with a ceramic coating and/or wax and/or synthetic paint sealant, plus all the other related tasks like dressing the tires, applying protectants to plastic trim, cleaning the glass, cleaning the interior, etc. takes all day. The compounding and polishing aspect takes anywhere from 3 to 8 hours, depending on what you're doing.
If for example you spend 5 hours machine polishing the paint on your Corvette and the results are a flawless, scratch and swirl free finish, washing your Corvette just ONE TIME with a contaminated wash mitt will undo all 5 hours of machine polishing. To undo the damage means starting completely over. By starting over, I mean, wash and dry the car, check to see if the paint needs claying, then machine polishing again to remove the swirls and scratches your wash mitt inflicted into the paint simply because there were some form of sharp, abrasive and/or pokey contaminants embedded in the wash mitt - unknown to you.
At AutoForge.net - we carry the premium quality version
Most people learn in life that you get what you pay for. There's literally TONS of microfiber towels and wash mitts in the market and this includes the Microfiber Chenille Wash Mitt. Here's the deal though, we carry the premium quality version, not the inexpensive version.
What's the difference?
The difference is in the quality of the microfiber itself but just as important - the CONSTRUCTION of the mitt. The cheap versions fall apart when you wash them, so they only last a few washes before you become frustrated with the mitt and throw it in the garage.
The version of the Microfiber Chenille Wash Mitt we carry at AutoForge.net is the premium quality, not just in the material, but how the inner sleeve is sewn as well as the construction of the entire mitt.
Double stitching of the sleeve and the wrist cuff ensure long life and happy customers
Because the design of this chenille microfiber wash mitt has a great track record for staying clean and uncontaminated, I much prefer and recommend this type of wash mitt for Prep Washes. And for the same reason, it is also good for Maintenance Washes.
Maintenance Wash Mitt
If you love your car and it shows, this means it always looks great, and the reason it always looks great is because a long time ago you figured out the only way to keep a car looking great is to take ownership of the car washing process, then the Mothers Genuine Lambswool Wash Mitt is a safe option.
There are scads of wash mitt option in the market, but the team at Mothers knows what they are doing and the proof is in their wash mitt. This is a REAL chunk of fur off a real lamb. The material is actually wool but generally speaking, the wool is akin to fur on other animals.
Short fiber length
What makes the Mothers Genuine Lambswool Wash Mitt a safe choice for washing cars in mint condition besides the super soft luxurious fibers themselves, is the short pile or fiber length. Because the fibers are short, they cannot mat together like wash mitts with long fiber lengths. When long fibers mat together they become course and tatty and this is when they become abrasive and scratch your car's delicate clearcoat finish as well as surfaces like Black Piano Plastic, commonly used for trim accents on modern cars.
The short fiber length also helps to reduce the potential for contamination but you still must be mindful and never drop this type of wash mitt onto the ground
Don't be fooled by the evil twin - the synthetic wool wash mitt
You can identify a REAL lambswool wash mitt by turning the hand opening inside out. Doing this reveals the actual leather hide proving it's the real-deal.
The much less expansive evil twin to this wash mitt is the synthetic versions The gold fleece synthetic versions of have long fiber lengths and with use, these fibers will mat together turning you fuzzy, gold fleece wash mitt into a scratch-inducing swirl maker. Besides the matting issue, the fibers when brand new because they are synthetic, basically a form of plastic, they are not gentle to the finish. For these two reasons, I strongly recommend never using this type of wash mitt.
The correct way to wash microfiber towels
The best way to wash your microfiber towels to get them clean while also preserving their plush, scratch-free feel and performance is to use a laundry soap specifically formulated for microfiber materials.
The process of detailing a car means using a lot of different car care products including,
- Ceramic & Graphene Coatings
- Synthetic paint sealants
- Spray-on waxes, sealants & coatings
- Trim dressings
- Tire dressings
- Leather and vinyl cleaners
- Leather and vinyl conditioners
- Metal polish and oxidation residues (turns your towels black)
Plus all the dirt, fallout and pollution you wash off your car with your mitts or towels
A dedicated, premium quality microfiber liquid laundry soap is formulated to remove all these substances from your microfiber tools WHILE also preserving the plush, soft feel we all love and appreciate with these towels and mitts that touch our car’s delicate clearcoat finish.
Normal laundry detergents, formulated to wash cotton towels and denim jeans, (things that are not plush like microfiber), are too harsh and over time and can deteriorate your microfiber investment prematurely. The term we use in the detailing industry is crunchy. Using inexpensive laundry soaps destroys the plush feel like new microfiber towels have and hardens the fibers making them feel crunchy. When this happens they don’t absorb or adsorb as well as a brand new towel and can even contribute to marring of the paint.
A quality microfiber laundry soap will clean well and maintain the soft, luxurious look and feel to your microfiber towel investment. Using a dedicated microfiber towel laundry soap will also ensure your microfiber tools, (wiping towels, drying towels, coating towels and wash mitts), will maximize their performance for hundreds and even thousands of washes.
Key takeaway points
You can never have enough great quality microfiber towels.
Great microfiber towels are just as important as great products, pads and tools.
Always consider the ease or resistance to contamination when choosing microfiber products.
Have a system or protocol in place to take care of your microfiber towels. This protocol should include,
- A clean place to store clean towels.
- A clean place to store used towels.
- A washing method that cleans your towels and also preserves their plus and absorbent features.
- A place to inspect and fold your microfiber towels before storing your towels.
- And the cycle repeats - have a clean place to store clean towels after inspecting and folding.
I hope this article helps you to choose and use the correct microfiber towels for all your detailing projects. If you have any questions, I'm always happy to answer questions or help in any what that sees you through to success sin your garage.
Hands-on Car & Boat Detailing Classes
Learning to machine dry sand to remove orange peel on a 1955 Chevy Panel Truck Streetrod with a fresh, custom paint job.
Together with my long-time friend and detailing expert Nick Rutter, we teach what we believe are the best car and boat detailing classes on planet Earth. Unlike other options, we put the focus on hands-on learning. In our classes, you're on your feed working on real cars and real boats.
Learning the correct way to use a rotary polisher on a 26' Contender Center Console Boat
Learn by doing, not looking at the wall
We know from decades of experience teaching car and boat detailing classes, that people learn better doing, not looking at the wall, (looking at a powerpoint presentation on a screen on the wall), listening to someone drone on and on for hours.
Mike Phillips providing hands-on training for how to use a rotary polisher on a 1967 Ford Fairlane
50/50 - Enthusiasts/Professionals
Some people think our classes are only for people that detail cars for a living, either part-time or full-time but this isn't true. 50% of the people that take our classes are taking the class simply because they want and like to detail their own cars and/or boats.
The other 50% are either seasoned professional detailers always looking to learn more or people new to the detailing business that know by taking our class they will completely flatten the learning curve so they can focus on turning out quality work at higher profits.
Click here for more information about our detailing classes or to sign-up online!
Questions about microfiber towels, our detailing classes or anything detailing related, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.