Remember back in the day when we used to use old t-shirts to detail our cars? Not anymore. Microfiber towels for car detailing are one of my favorite tools for car care – ever. It’s amazing all the things you can do with them.
Let’s start with the most basic use of the microfiber towel and how it completely changed the way I… dry a car! Yes, back when I was a kid and used to work on my parents’ cars, the only decent thing available to dry your car was a natural chamois. They worked alright, but the problem is they pretty much strip the wax off your car after a couple of uses. Not good.
I finally switched to 100% cotton towels to dry cars. But, those don’t hold much moisture and it takes FOREVER to dry your car.
Some are better than others, but generally, the sticky rubbery nature of a chamois ends up removing a lot of wax. To help avoid that problem I finally switched to 100% cotton towels to dry cars. Unfortunately, those don’t hold much moisture and it takes FOREVER to dry your car. You often need a couple of cotton towels and they end up leaving wet streaks. Too annoying to be viable option. A real PITA.
Discovering microfiber towels for the very first time.
Microfiber towels might seem staple now, but in reality their availability used to not be as good. I had used microfiber towels before, mainly for polishing, but never to dry a car. I was at Target during a usual home shopping day and decided to swing by the automotive section. I saw a large microfiber drying towel and figured I should give it a try. It seemed soft enough not to strip wax, and the tiny microfiber texture should absorb more water than a standard cotton towel. I needed something better than cotton, so might as well.
I was pretty much blown away the first time I used it. It was a BIG micro-fiber towel and I was able to dry my entire car without even having to wring out the water once! I was a believer! I went back to the shop and bought another and shipped it to my dad to use for his Porsche 911. Up until that point he was still stripping wax off using the old chamois drying technique.
In more recent times I adopted the use of micro-fiber towels for just about every cleaning job on cars. Now that the word is out and every manufacturer is making specific microfiber towels for different purposes, there is one for just about every job. I keep a small static microfiber rag inside the center console of my Miata. Convertible owners are aware of how dusty the interiors can get. Having that little static microfiber towel handy at all times allows me to quickly wipe down the dashboard and door panels on a daily basis to keep the interiors looking neat between detail jobs.
I don’t like having to wring out towels. I can dry the entire car using only one of the towels…
Going back to car drying, recently I’ve been using 2 large microfiber towels for the job. I don’t like having to wring out towels. I can dry the entire car using only one of the towels, without wringing it out. By the time I’m almost done, the car is dry but it will still have some wet streaks due to the now-soaking-wet towel. That’s when the second microfiber towel comes in. I’ll do a second pass with that perfectly dry one and the car ends up perfectly dry with zero streaks. I’ll usually use the towels about 2 or 3 times before throwing them in the washer. That’s because I only use them around clean panels. The wheels, door jambs, hood and trunk lid sills I do differently…
Back to the chamois!
That’s when the chamois comes in! I really treat them harshly. I use a standard chamois to clean door jams, and along the water drain channels under the hood and trunk lid. I’ll also use the chamois to dry the wheels. Since the chamois sees the grunt of the dirty areas, I need to throw it in the washer with a little laundry detergent after every car wash. It works out perfectly though, as a chamois you can simply store wet, right after it comes out of the washer. One thing though, if you decide to adopt this method, be sure to do two rinse cycles in your washer. You need to get all the detergent out.
Given I’m now microfiber-happy, I use them for polishing and waxing as well. I have certain smaller microfiber towels that I use exclusively for buffing and others that I use for removing wax haze. Then I have a fluffy microfiber mitt for final buffing after the wax excess has been removed. This allows me to pick up any wax spots I might have missed and to make the finish as perfect as possible.
I honestly think the invention of the microfiber towel is the greatest thing that has ever happened to car detailing since the discovery of carnauba. My little bastard child cotton towels now end up greasy and oily.
Keep in mind, not all microfiber towels are created equal. I buy the average-priced ones for most jobs like waterless washing. Then, the more fluffy and expensive ones I use exclusively for removing polish or wax haze. It’s often good to buy border-free microfiber towels for those jobs. The lack of stitching and hard edges reduces the chances of adding swirl marks to you paint.
What to buy
Here are the best options.
For general quick detailing and cleaning, the inexpensive ones are fine. You can usually find two dozen towels hovering around $12. See below for a link to some very popular and inexpensive microfiber towels…
When the job requires a much higher level of detail and perfection, you pull out the big guns. You simply save the expensive ones for those kinds of jobs only. That’s when the border-free or edge-less microfiber detailing towels come in. These are made using more exotic and high-quality materials. Basically, the stuff you want when only the best will do. Check these out…
Of course, there are different grades in between. The best you can do is buy to few different types of detailing towels until find the ones you like for a particular job. Note, if you use one of our links you help RallyWays to continue to do what we do. So please do…
One last thing to point out… When you wash your microfiber towels, don’t put them in the dryer. They’ll become static electricity-laden dirt magnets. That’s typically not what you want if you want to keep harmfull particles off them. However, there is one time where static electricity in micro-fiber towels comes in very handy though. These would be for the detailing towels for your car interior only and should only used for this purpose. If you charge them up with static electricity spinning them in the dryer they become much better at picking up dust and lint on your dashboard when they are dry.
By the way… Car detailing is a big part of what we do at RallyWays. You can learn a lot by just reading around here. For all of our automotive detailing articles be sure to visit our Detailer department.