What is microfiber?
Microfiber is a blend of two different materials; polyester and polyamide. The term microfiber derives from the literal size of the individual strands. Strands of microfiber are ultra-fine and measure out to 1/3 the diameter of cotton fibers, or 1/4 the diameter of wool fibers. This is what makes microfiber so soft.
What makes it so great for cleaning sensitive surfaces is that the structure of the microfiber allows for it to lift dirt from the surface, and trap it into the fiber. Where strands of cotton or wool simply don’t have those structural properties. They instead hold dirt to the surface, which in turn can scratch your cars paint and cause unsightly swirl marks or blemishes. Below is a visual illustrating the difference between the structure of cotton/wool strands, and the structure of microfiber strands:
Weaving the fiber into different knits allows for the resulting cloths to achieve a variety of different characteristics that make it beneficial for specific cleaning or polishing tasks. From waffle weaves, to terry weaves and even “ultrasuede” or “alcantarra” (two brand names of fabrics made from microfiber and weaved to mimic natural suede).
With all of these different applications, it’s easy to see that microfiber is truly a durable and versatile fiber. In detailing alone there are several different cloths that serve different purposes. We measure the density of microfiber in grams per square meter (GSM). The higher the GSM, the better (to an extent). Below is a rundown of the different densities and what we use them for:
- Glass cleaning towels have the lowest GSM, less than 150
- Inexpensive, general-use towels are 150-250 GSM
- 300-400 GSM provides for a good utility-use towel that is safe for sensitive surfaces
- 400+ GSM medium to long pile towels are softest and great for use on scratch-sensitive surfaces.
Of course, as you use microfiber to help clean your car, you want to be aware of how saturated your towel/cloth is becoming. If you’re working on a very dirty car, you want to be sure to use lots of towels, and always flip to a clean side. If the whole towel gets too dirty, you can certainly drop it in the wash. Read below for recommended care instructions.
You can machine wash your microfiber towels. We suggest a mild liquid detergent - something with no dyes or fragrances, that would be your best bet. No bleach or fabric softener, either. Be sure to wash them separately from other items, you don’t want the nasty stuff from your windshield getting washed into your kid’s school uniforms. Plus, some towels may bleed whatever color they were dyed with.
Tumble dry on low heat, and don’t iron them.
And there you go, probably more than you ever wanted to know about microfiber!