Microfiber towels have incredible cleaning, absorbing, and drying abilities due to the size and quality of the fibres, the specific weave construction, and overall weight. There is quite a bit of science behind these magnificent towels that is helpful to understand the basics of when choosing which one to buy for the task at hand.
At first touch, you may notice that your brand new towel can seem rough to the tough. Before you freak out and return your brand new towel, you should know that this is by design! This is because when dry, the tiny fibres that the towel is constructed of actually hold onto the grooves of your skin like tiny hooks (without causing any damage, of course). That’s how these towels do such a great job of cleaning versus any old rag you keep in your garage!
This is very different from most other general-purpose towels which tend to just push dirt back and forth and actually make the surface of your car look streaky and smudged after “cleaning”.
When you use a microfiber towel, the tiny fibres act like fishing hooks, grabbing and holding onto any dirt and moisture on your vehicle's surface. This gripping effect of a microfiber towel is what leaves your car shiny, spotless, and without any streaks.
Microfiber towels are also perfect for removing dust from surfaces, since they are specially designed to physically attract dust particles and hold on to them naturally. On top of that, unlike a typical cotton fabric, the high surface area of microfiber towels means they can absorb more than six times their own weight in liquid, which is pretty impressive for a towel.
We promise that we’re not trying to trick you into a surprise science lesson, but bear with us! Understanding the basics of towels like GSM and blend ratio will not only impress your much less informed friends at the next car show you go to, but it will also help you make the right decision when you’re knee deep in towel choices for cleaning your windshield.
Grams Per Square Metre (GSM) is the weight/density of a microfiber towel (when dry). This measurement is a standard feature of all microfiber towels regardless of their colour, pattern, and purpose. In general, the higher the GSM value, the more absorbent (to dust or water) and thicker and softer the towel will be. This makes towels with a high GSM effective choices for sensitive surfaces on your vehicle that may need some extra TLC.
Experts say that microfiber towels with a lower GSM may not be as effective or absorbent, but still can be useful when you’re cleaning less sensitive surfaces on your vehicle. If you love your car as much as we love ours, then we suggest you avoid choosing a microfiber towel below 250 GSM. Any GSM value above 250 means that your microfiber can withstand many washes without fraying or degrading prematurely.
Microfiber towels within the 250-350 GSM range are ideal for general cleaning surfaces that aren’t prone to scratches (things like leather seats, plastic, and glass). On the other hand, microfiber towels in the 600-700 GSM range are the perfect choice for sensitive and delicate surfaces such as paint and mirrors.
- Selecting a heavy towel ensures a long-lasting product; they cost a little more, but they’ll last longer.
- When selecting microfiber towels, you can easily do a simple test for physical density and overall quality. Simply hold the towel up to the light and stretch it slightly. The less the light can pass through, the higher density (and quality) the towel is.
- Test the weight of the microfiber towels; generally the heavier and denser, the higher the quality.
Another way to determine the quality of microfiber towels is something called the blend ratio of materials. Most towels are made from polyester and polyamide (more commonly known as nylon). The first numerical value and number represents the polyester, and the second is the polyamide. For example, an 80/20 blend ratio simply means that your towel is made up of 80% polyester and 20% polyamide.
So what is an ideal blend ratio? Well, there are a few different factors, having too much polyester or too much polyamide could be a bad thing. Here’s why a blend is so important:
- Polyester is critical for the structure of the microfiber towel.
- Polyamide increases the microfiber towels’ density and absorption abilities.
- Polyester is cheaper to manufacture.
- Be careful of 100% polyester towels as they lack effective composition for cleaning, absorption, and drying.
Taking all of the above into consideration, quality towels will usually be within the 70/30 or 80/20 range.
There has often been complex and contradictory information regarding where the highest quality towels are sourced from. Some research indicates that manufacturing advancements and globalization have allowed most countries the ability to manufacture quality microfiber towels.
However, consistency is important. In some countries, production rates are extremely high, and this can sometimes result in lower quality control measures. In addition, some factories spin the microfiber and assemble the towel in the same location which is generally thought to result in higher quality. Look for brands whose manufacturing standards meet the above-mentioned quality criteria and have a consistent manufacturing history.
Understanding the pattern and type of weave has a direct impact on selecting the best towel for the right task. Quality microfiber towels consist of split fibres; thus, the higher the number of split fibres per segment, the more absorbent the towel will be. While many manufacturers won’t disclose this detail, if you can get your hands on this information, most people find that around 16 splits per fibre is an ideal amount.
Short pile, closed-loop towels are usually considered the most effective for deep cleaning, using liquid cleaning products, and removing coating materials such as polish.
On the other hand, dense deep-pile towels are known for their softer and more absorbent nature, making them a great choice for car detailers, dry dusting, buffing, soaking up tasks, and those super-sensitive surfaces.
You may also come across the twisted loop weaved microfiber towel, which is composed of ultra-deep piled fibres that are compacted in a twisted configuration. This allows for an increased surface area to give maximum absorption. Some microfiber towels also include a foam core for added absorption properties making them even more effective.
Finally, waffle patterns aren’t just incorporated into these towels for style – these textures are designed to have large surface areas making them absorbent and a good choice for soaking up any spray products. On top of all of the above, you should always look out for microfiber towels with a soft or clean-cut edge. Some lower-quality general purpose towels will have the edges encased with material and thread, which can lead to issues since any rough edges can inflict damage on delicate car surfaces.
A good quality microfiber cloth should last for years and up to 500 washes if treated correctly. No, that doesn’t mean you need to be buying towels just to take care of your towels, but there are some helpful tips that can help you make sure you’ll have many happy years together!
Here are some helpful tips to help you maintain your towels:
- Upon purchase, it is advisable to wash new microfiber towels to get rid of any loose fibres that have been left behind as a result of the manufacturing process.
- You should remove any tags on the towel as these may cause scratches to the surface if they are made from more rough materials.
- After using different microfiber towels, wash them separately to avoid contamination and a mixture of different chemicals that are trapped within the fibres of the towel.
- Use a strong cleaning detergent without any softening chemicals, as they may leave behind some residue between fibres and remove the positive charge that makes the towels so effective. Also make sure to avoid bleaching agents.
- Dry towels at low heat or opt for an air-dry option, as high heat levels can melt fibres and result in poor absorption.
Always make sure to store microfiber towels in a clean cabinet or closed container. This prevents them from attracting any dirt or dust. It’s also good practice to fold them and stack them after they have dried and sort them according to their use so as to not get confused and cause any cross-contamination. Lastly, if you have accidentally used the wrong microfiber towel on a surface it was not meant for, or with chemicals that were not suitable, place them in your wash pile. This will ensure that you do not damage any surfaces, such as the paint of your car.
- No wrinkling (what's their secret?!)
- Durable and dynamic
- Absorbent and clings to dust
- Lightweight and gentle on sensitive surfaces
According to Forbes Wheels, some of the best microfiber towels for 2023 include:
Best overall: Chemical Guys Premium Microfiber. This premier brand in the automotive industry reigns supreme, with its dual layer 70/30 microfiber blend plus weave and silk-trimmed edges. These features allow for seamless buffing, drying, and polishing tasks. In addition, this microfiber towel has great absorbability.
Best for spray-on wax and other detailers: Griot’s Garage Microfiber Edgeless Towels. This household brand has an impressive 320 GSM woven nap and edgeless design, which are perfect for applying and removing wax products with little chance of collecting debris and inflicting damage.
Best for buffing and polishing: Meguiar’s X2025 Supreme Shine. This effective microfiber towel consists of a thick dual-layer construction with impressive absorbability and grip. This design ensures the towel is the right choice for all buffing, polishing, and drying tasks.
Best for drying: The Rag Company Waffle-Weave Towels. This company has specially designed microfiber towels to provide the best drying abilities. The microfiber towels have a commendable 390 GSM weave and a 70/30 blend which allow for immense absorbability (up to 10 times its weight in liquid, wow!).
Best for windows: Microfiber Wholesale’s Glass Cleaning Cloths. These microfiber towels are the best for cleaning automotive glass and come with an effective two-step system kit. The kit includes two different types of microfiber towels that require no cleaning products and are, of course, colour-coded for enhanced usability.
It sounds simple, but microfiber towels are a real breakthrough in modern technology and can be a huge help in keeping your car looking perfect!
As a car enthusiast, selecting the best microfiber towel is critical for all your car’s needs and wants. One needs to carefully consider, as highlighted above: the GSM value, blend ratio, location of origin, pattern, and the type and the care of microfiber towels based on the specific task required. This will help you make the best choice of microfiber towel for your beloved car!
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