When To Use Different Microfibre Cloths
The days of cleaning cars with the nearest old rag that comes to hand are long gone. We now live in a world that offers microfibre cloths and for this we should be grateful. No part of car care, from paint detailing to interior cleaning, has escaped the influence of this magic material.
What is a Micro Fibre Cloth?
Microfibre was invented, depending upon who you listen to, in the latter half of the 20th Century and is a blend of polyester and polyamide. It was immediately put to various uses with a varying degree of success. Thinner even than a human hair, a microfibre is about half the diameter of a silk fibre and it was soon realised that this highly absorbent fabric in the form of cloths and towels could be ideal for cleaning purposes, and so it proved. These products are now an established part of the vehicle cleaning regime, used extensively by car detailing experts.
A choice selection of this miracle cloth should be a part of every home car cleaning kit. In use, they help avoid swirl marks and scratches and they last a long time when looked after properly.
Are Micfro Fibre Cloths Different Grades?
Polyester and polyamide are blended at different ratios (e.g. 75/25) and result in different types of cloth, broadening the applications. The blend will be noted on packaging or labels. Different towels have differing densities, denoted in grams per square metre (GSM). For example, if a 16×16 cloth is 500gsm, this means that a square metre of the cloth weighs 500 grams, not the actual individual cloth itself. The more dense the material is, the more absorbent it becomes.
Why Use Microfibre Towels?
A cloth is a cloth and a towel is a towel it might be thought, but in the car detailing world this is very much not so. The biggest benefit of such towels are their effectiveness in attracting dirt and absorbing liquid. Unlike cotton, say, which has an inconsistent shape per strand, each strand of microfibre is manufactured with a ‘star’ shaped structure which is perfect for uniform cleaning. Because they are soft and totally non-abrasive when clean, they can even be used with the new generation of waterless car washes.
There is a lot of choice. The best are seamless and the product range has developed to ensure there is a microfibre cloth or towel to suit most automotive jobs. It’s worth noting that the higher the GSM figure, the better they are, although they do cost a little more.
Essentially, if in doubt, go by the ‘gsm’ number for specific jobs.:
Micro Fibre Cloths For General Use
A cloth or towel for general use on interiors, wheel and exhaust trim and the like might be 220gsm for example although, ideally, a fresh towel for each job would be best. Wheels especially will accumulate brake dust and this could be transferred to more delicate areas.
Micro Fiblre Cloths For All-Surface Use
For all purpose exterior jobs like car paintwork, a microfibre cloth might be 360gsm for greater absorbency. The denser material will aid buffing up after polishing or waxing.
Micro Fiblre Cloths For Delicate Jobs
For more delicate jobs needing care, perhaps a 600gsm towel would be best for softness or for superior absorbency, and on glass for example, an 80/20 350gsm might suit. In short, think about the job that needs doing and choose the best from the weight and packaging suggestions. A good tip here is to keep the towels used for individual jobs specifically for that purpose alone, thus avoiding cross-contamination.
Maintaining Micro Fibre Cloths
The other important suggestion is that they are kept clean and are washed regularly, keeping them separate from any ordinary cloth material which may deposit lint on these vital cleaning aids. Also, here’s another top tip: If dropped on grass, dirt or gravel surfaces, don’t continue using them as they may have picked up some grit. Get a fresh one.
How To Wash A Microfibre Cloth
In an ideal world each type of microfibre cloth or towel would be washed individually; for most users however this might be a wash day too far. If they are all going into the machine together (and not with the family laundry) then make sure they have a jolly good pre-soak beforehand to help lift dirt and particles. Use a warm or hot setting for a thorough clean.
Use a good quality liquid, not powder, detergent. Do not bleach. Some say that adding a half-cup of white vinegar helps to remove wax residue, allowing the detergent to take away the vinegar aroma. Do not under any circumstances use a fabric softener. This may make your towels and cloths smell like a summer’s day but it will also make the material lose its static charge, an important part of the cloth’s construction.
Drying Microfibre Products
The drying cycle is as important as the wash. Air drying is fine, although weather dependent, but a tumble dryer is quicker. Note: Make sure the dryer is not already warmed up from a previous load and is on its coolest setting. Do not iron. Remember the drip-dry polyester office shirts of old with no need to iron? There was a reason for that. Heat can melt the polyester content of the microfibres so once fully dry, just fold and store, preferably in a plastic bag to avoid cross-contamination with other materials or products.
Microfibre cloths and towels are a mainstay of the car detailer’s fight against dirt, paint swirls and oxidisation. They are environmentally friendly too: A plus point in these ecological days. Make sure there are plenty to hand the next time the car needs some TLC.