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Car Detailing Microfiber Towels

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An in depth study on automotive detailing microfiber towels and the benefits of usage.

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									Microfiber Towels
15 years after a debut in Sweden and success throughout Europe, microfiber cleaning textiles should have replaced most of the household chemicals that smear, powder, spray, and infuse almost every inch of the American home. Microfiber cleans surfaces mechanically, not chemically, by scraping them with microscopic precision. And you don’t throw the products away, but keep renewing them with machine or hand washing. “It’s one of the greenest products out there. From the research we’ve done, microfiber cleans and removes dirt and bacteria with water alone. You do not need chemicals,” says Judy Klein, director of retail cleaning for Newell Rubbermaid, the $6.4 billion Corporation that in 2007 introduced a consumer line of microfiber cleaning products. For the most part, though, disbelief has stunted microfiber’s proliferation. The claims of chemical-free cleaning are too vast to trust and too complex to understand for the average consumer and the products are too expensive to risk taking the chance. Because the term “microfiber or Microfiber” is not regulated, quality products share the same labeling with much lesser quality ones, exacerbating the problem of trust.

Microfiber definition
Microfiber by definition (very small; involving minute quantities or variations) is not a fabric; but a yarn, that’s spun into thread, which is then used to weave a terry fabric. These ultra-fine yarns (twice as fine as silk and 100 times finer than a human hair) are made from various sources, they can be made from many different materials, such as a 70% polyester/30% polyamide or a natural material such as cellulose, a plant carbohydrate. There are currently two countries that manufacture and export microfiber towels, Korea and China. The quality of these products is dependent upon the quality assurance (if any) programs employed. More so than many car care products - you'll (usually) get the quality you pay for. Purchasing them from a reliable vendor is the safest bet. Its scratch resistance has a lot to do with the way the fibers are processed and spun, there are too many factors to be able to say conclusively that natural fibers will not cause scratches and artificial fibers will. However, natural fibers are far less likely to scratch, flannel or cotton flannel is a very tight weave and it could scratch as it mats down easily, always try to stay with a terrycloth weave. The first material used to produce microfiber was a combination of two DuPont fibers, polyester and polyamide, which is used as the core and polyester as the outer fiber. No matter how soft it feels, polyester, being a plastic will scratch a paint surface on a microscopic level, which shows up as toweling marks, longer scratches than the usual small swirl marks or micro marring (to check for polyester

content see burn test below). The nature of this yarn is that it is an absorbent; the reason polyester appears to absorb liquids is the many thousands of microfibers that collectively are encapsulating a lot of water. Once they become coated with detergent, polish or fabric softener, etc. they lose their absorbent ability. The smaller the diameter of the yarn, the softer the fabric will feel, however this does not mean that it's non-abrasive and will not cause scratches (this softness can also be chemically induced). Most microfiber that originates from Asia and the Far East is fabricated from polyester or nylon byproducts. Because the label says microfiber is no assurance that the material is safe to use or that it is non-abrasive. The most important criteria for any fabric used on a vehicle surface is its quality and scratch resistance. Regardless of material type or quality, a dirty microfiber, or a 100% cotton towel will both scratch, microfiber has attractant properties (that is dirt, dust, and various other substances cling to it), which is one of the reasons that it works so well, but it is also a reason why you need to be extra careful when using towels on your paint. Construction - microfiber towel boarders – the of the advantages of a silk/satin edging is that they won't unravel when washed several times like a non edged towel nor will they cause marring of the paint surface, it also means that they will not snag. Size - available in various sizes 16 -inch x 16 / 18 / 24 -inch, drying towels 25 -inch x 16 -inch being a usable size Towel density - is a measure of fibers per square inch of fabric. The range for quality microfiber is 90,000 to 225,000 fibers per square inch. The higher the fiber count the more absorbent. Ratio - of polyester and polyamide blend; 80% polyester and 20% polyamide is typical (80/20) a 70/30 blend will absorb water faster. As polyamide is much more expensive than polyester, you can expect to pay more for a 70/30 blend. Things to look for in a microfiber towel - How many times the fibers are split - a higher split ensures you get a more effective cleaning towel. Splitting the fibers creates millions of edges that trap dirt and dust that bonds to the fibers and is not released until the towel is washed in hot water. Therefore, the dirt is not re-deposited on the paint surface. How many times can you wash your microfiber towel - the more times you can wash it the more durable the towel does the towel come with a guarantee? - This says the company is prepared to stand by its product. When choosing microfiber quality is very important, as a lack of quality inspection will result in variable results i.e. towels that will cause surface scratches, leave a trail of lint, etc. Microfiber quality is very often reflected in the purchase price, best advice, use only high quality microfiber towels from a reputable source. As with most things, you'll get what you pay for. A good quality towel may cost more, but it will last longer. The most important thing to remember is that a good quality microfiber towel will provide better cleaning results that ordinary towels or cloth.

Types and Uses for Detailing Towels:
 General Purpose - a microfiber towels with a standard terry cloth weave, a medium thick nap and an 80/20 blend of polyester and polyamide. Used for buffing paint, glass, vinyl, plastic and leather. Ideal for quick detailing (QD) this will be the most frequently used towel. PolyFiber2 - DF Concours microfiber towels, are very soft while having more bite and polishing ability than traditional microfiber, it's 25% more absorbent using a 80/20 Polyester/Nylon microfiber mix woven in Brazil with no generic polyamide (typically referred to as a Nylon byproduct).These towels are finished and inspected in the USA under the strictest quality control standards. Glass – microfiber towels that work well for polishing and glass cleaning seem to have similar characteristics. The towel ideally should be 100% lint free; this means the weave is going to have a shorter nap than a general purpose towel. A decent glass towel needs scrubbing power to successfully remove the residue that cause streaking, sharing the same characteristic that makes a good polishing cloth. This microfiber towel is so effective at cleaning glass that often a glass cleaner chemical isn't even necessary. It features a very low-pile cut in a zigzag pattern which literally attracts and removes off-gassing, residue, smudges and oily finger prints. Its efficient cleaning action is truly a time saver.  Drying - There are two different microfiber toweling weaves that make good drying towels: terry cloth and Piqué or waffle weave. “ Piqué isn't more absorbent than terry but the ridges act as hundreds of little squeegees which push the water up into the cups giving the fabric time to absorb." Waffle weave towels - when they are wet they’re very soft and super absorbent, and glide easily over the surface, the ‘pockets’ in the weave ‘hold’ any dirt or surface debris unlike some other super absorbing products that trap dirt between the towel and paint surface with the potential to cause serious scratches (never use it when it’s dry as it can potentially scratch) That goes for whatever you use for drying, including cotton towels. Ensure that the towel is really wet and then wring it out thoroughly before using.

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Soak up as much water as you can, wringing out often to keep the absorption efficiency up and wringing out also those harmful minerals in the process. When the only thing left on the surface are tiny micro beads of water (really noticeable on a black car), which I easily wipe off with a pass or two of the highly absorbent waffle towel and leave the surface bone dry. This drying technique is excellent for black cars (especially for ‘soft’ single stage paint that show every surface mark) but look so good when they are properly detailed. This process never includes scrubbing, rubbing or applying any pressure whatsoever. The only time that pressure needs to be applied to a paint surface is when you are polishing

Tests
A couple of ‘non-scientific tests’ you could use to assimilate whether or not a towel will cause scratches, they are not at all scientific nor 100% accurate, they are only indicative of what the towel may do to your paint surface, but then which is preferable to scratch a CD or your paint surface? Ensure the towels have been washed before carrying out these ‘tests’. If the towel does scratch the CD’s surface that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will scratch the vehicle's paint, a CD has a much softer surface than automobile paint so use caution, initially trying an inconspicuous area.  CD Scratch Test - with a microfiber cloth, using medium to heavy pressure rub the data surface of a CD. If no scratching is evident then it probably won’t scratch the vehicle's paint surface; be aware that the bindings can also cause scratching. On first use of a towel use it on an inconspicuous area first. Burn Test - to test a material for polyester content, light a thread, if it emits a black wisp of smoke and then shrivels up into a black hard ball, its polyester and will probably scratch your paint. (100%) Cotton Towels - This detailing towel is made entirely of a blend of microfiber cotton and pima cotton, 100% Cotton (50% Cotton microfiber /50% Pima Cotton) Its scratch resistance has a lot to do with the way the fibers are processed and spun, there are too many factors to be able to say conclusively that natural fibers will not cause scratches and artificial fibers will. In my opinion, however, natural fibers are far less likely to scratch, flannel or cotton flannel is a very tight weave and it could scratch as it mats down easily, always try to stay with a terrycloth weave. Prima Cotton - Theses cotton towels are exceptionally soft, super absorbent terrycloth. The fabric is woven from a blend of microfiber cotton and Pima Cotton; no artificial fibers of any kind are used in the weaving or sewing of this product. But pay attention to the edge bindings as they can be a potential cause of surface scratches Quality towels edge bindings are sewn with cotton thread, not polyester. (For more information on cotton) http://www.supima.com/faq/index.htm

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The smaller the diameter of the yarn, the softer the fabric will feel, however this does not mean that its non-abrasive and will not cause scratches (this softness can also be chemically induced) The most important criteria for any fabric used on a vehicle surface is its quality and scratch resistance. Natural cellulose can be spun with long staple cotton and then woven into 100% natural looped terrycloth or velour, were the loops are trimmed to produce a fine nap (ideal for glass cleaning). This is very soft, absorbent, and non-abrasive and will not cause scratching. Once this type of fabric is washed two or three times, to remove any short fibers it will not leave a lint trail. The principal structural chemical in cotton, wood, and most other plants is actually cellulose consisting of many small molecules linked together (monomers) in a chain or lattice like structure; both linen and cotton are natural plant fibers. Quality towels edge bindings are sewn with cotton thread, not polyester.

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Egyptian cotton - The term Egyptian cotton is usually applied to the extra long staple cotton, produced in Egypt and favored for the luxury and up market brands worldwide. Cotton in general has unique characteristics but Egyptian cotton in particular is unique. o Length- Egyptian cotton is long in fiber, which enables the making of the finest yarn without destroying its strength. o Strength / Durability - Egyptian cotton products are more resistant to stress and therefore live longer. o Absorbency / Softness - because Egyptian cotton has a very high ability to absorb liquids and is extremely soft to the touch, it is widely used in the manufacturing of high end household textiles. o Hand picked - Egyptian cotton, being hand picked, puts no stress on the fiber, and that is the reason why the products are more durable.

Microfiber Care
To ensure your towels and buffing cloths provide long-term use, wash them frequently in a liquid soap (Micro Restore) in hot 120oF< (48oC <) water, add a teaspoon per towel distilled white vinegar (the vinegar doesn't coat the fibers but instead works to eliminate detergent residue)in the rise cycle, and finally a thorough cold rinse. Always wash microfiber separately and only with other microfiber fabrics. Do not use bleach, softeners (liquids or towels) as they coat the towels rendering them ineffective or powder wash products as there may be small 'clumps' of powder that could cause scratching Regardless of material type or quality, a dirty microfiber, or a 100% Cotton towel will scratch, microfiber has attractant properties, that is dirt, dust, and various other substances cling to it, which is one of the reasons that it works so well, but it is also a reason why you need to be extra careful when using towels on your paint Before using microfiber towels for the first time:  Remove labels / tags  Check for towel color fastness before washing  Wash towels before using  Wash / Rinse after using and before you use a different product (i.e. don’t use to remove polish and then apply wax)  Always wash towels separately from other fabrics using hot water  Use a mild liquid detergent without softener, bleach, whiteners, etc  Half the washing detergents manufacturers suggested amount is usually sufficient  During the rinse cycle, add 1-tsb per towel white distilled vinegar to help dissolve detergent and hard water minerals  Do not use fabric softeners or sheets  Drying – air dry or use medium heat in a tumble dryer (adding plastic dryer balls will help plump up the fibers)

Always wash towels as soon as possible after use, the longer they sit the more the contaminants will set do not use bleach (bleach will shorten the life of your microfiber) Read the label on the detergent bottle and use half of what they recommend and use hot water (120oF) Washing Liquid and Vinegar (50/50) to clean-out the machine drum Heated water breaks down water-soluble soiling faster as it reduces overall chemical usage because it reduces the surface tension of the fiber and will better dislodge wax and other particles. Heat acts as a catalyst promoting quicker reactions between chemicals and the soil thereby minimizing dwell time. If the towel still tends to ‘streak’ boil the towels for at least 20 minute, this will soften the fibers, and release any wax / polish residue. This will also release any lint, which will actually come to the surface of the water. Pre-soak in a liquid detergent / water and then squeeze out wax/polish with your hands and rinse thoroughly. Allow microfiber towels to boil for twenty (20) minutes (ensure that water does not fully evaporate) you will find that more wax / polish residue comes out even after a towel has been thoroughly washed. Empty out the water and then remove the towel, don't do it the other way or you'll re-introduce debris to the towel again. Micro-Restore is the only detergent formulated for maintaining and restoring microfiber, it’s a concentrated detergent designed to clean, pamper and extend the life of microfiber cloths. With all of the polishes, waxes, oils and chemicals that we apply and remove with our microfiber cloths / towels, regular household detergent doesn’t even come close to cleaning or restoring them. It effectively removes dirt without using the bleaches and softeners commonly found in laundry detergents (even when they say they don't there are small traces). Over time bleach breaks down microfibers, and fabric softeners clog the microscopic fibers that make it so effective, rendering the microfiber product less effective with each washing. Wash Directions (Towels): Use hot (120oF) water and add 1-2 ounces to a standard size (8 gallon) load, for larger loads or heavily soiled laundry, add 3-6 ounces. Pre-soak in a liquid detergent / water and then squeeze out wax/polish with your hands and rinse thoroughly. As a pre-spotter: dilute 1 part concentrates with 3 parts water, apply to stain and launder as usual. Do not use fabric softener (most contain silicone that the towel will adsorb and clog the fibers thereby reducing their effectiveness) fabric softeners work by coating the surface of the cloth fibers with a thin layer of chemicals, a towel will also treat the fabric softener as if it was dirt by trying to store the tiny particles of the softener in the towel fibers. This will clog up the fibers and render the towel ineffective. Add a teaspoon per towel distilled white vinegar in place of a softener in the final rinse cycle, the vinegar instead works to eliminate detergent residue and the acid counteracts any alkaline minerals in the water supply. Do not use vinegar in every wash as it is a cationic (hydrogen ions bind to the anionic groups on the fibers) the disadvantage of coating fibers by hydrophobic layer is in decreasing the absorption properties of the fabric. Vinegar (Acetic acid, pH 2) works well in the rinse cycle to make your towels softer. Detergent is an alkaline (pH=12, the opposite of acidic on the pH scale).When you wash your towels (or anything for that matter) there are small amounts of detergent left behind, when your add Vinegar it balances the pH of the solution and helps removes the excess detergent from the wash.

Do not wash microfiber cloths / towels with other non-microfiber fabrics, as they will pick up lint from other fabrics. Air dry or you can dry microfiber cloths / towels in any dryer on low heat, remove them before they are still damp (cuts down on static charge) Colors may bleed during first washing Note: to ensure that the washing machine has no residual detergent or fabric softener; rise the machine drum with a 1:3 solution of washing liquid (with no bleach) / distilled white vinegar, clean about every 23 months


								
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