by Reece @ DI
This article is written by Ian Rammelkamp of Autofiber. Take a look below and learn all you wanted to know about microfiber …
and more from one of the industry’s best microfiber companies!
NOTE from Sunset North Car Wash Operations Manager: For some areas of your vehicle (interior, windows) we use microfiber. On your exterior finish we ONLY use 100% lamb’s wool mitts for our All Hand Wash!
What is Microfiber
• Microfiber is any fiber that is less than 1 denier.
• A strand of silk is one denier. A human hair is 5 denier.
• Microfiber is most often made of a blend of polyester, polyamide (nylon).
• The micro-filaments are spun into a yarn – the yarn is woven or knit into a fabric sheet at a specific GSM (grams per square meter). The sheets are cut and sewn into towels and other products.
• Most detailing microfiber is a blend of 70/30 or 80/20 polyester and polyamide.
Difference Between Made in S. Korea vs Made in China
In general, I would say that Korean manufacturers are better. They have more experience and specialize in higher quality products and manufacturing techniques. But, there are Chinese factories that are a high-tech with top of the line quality, who are just as good as the top South Korean factories.
When we first started in this business there were no Chinese manufacturers and we only bought from S. Korea. We have been working with our Chinese and South Korean partners for over 15 years, and we have helped them improve (as they have for us) throughout. So it really comes down to relationships, trust and who you are working with. Our business and reputation is built on trust, with both our customers and manufacturing partners, so quality and consistency is of the utmost importance.
One thing is certain, if you want cheap microfiber you will find it on Alibaba from a Chinese trading company.
What is GSM?
• GSM stands for grams per square meter. It is the weight of the fabric when it is cut into a 1 meter by one meter square.
• GSM most closely represents the absorption capacity of the fabric.
• It is not a measure of quality, thickness, or plushness.
What is Blend?
• Blend is the ratio of polyester to polyamide.
• Usually, 80% polyester 20% polyamide or 70% polyester and 30% polyamide. We have some products that are 75/25.
• Lower cost and quality towels are often closer to 100% polyester, sometimes 95/5.
• You really can’t trust the blend markings on cheap towels from big box stores. They are often mis-marked, and there is no one testing them.
• When buying from a reputable source the blend can be a useful metric for comparing quality, but, in general, it is not useful for determining the quality orfunctionality of the towel.
• You should test and evaluate towels based on how they work for the particular task with the other products being used with them.
Blend markings are simply too inconsistent for usefully evaluating the quality and effectiveness of a microfiber product.
What is Weave, Pile & Nap?
• Weave, pile, and nap are the physical look and feel of the fabric. They are determined by the machine and/or machine settings that the fabric is woven or knit on. Examples are, Terry, Twist, Waffle, Diamond, Pearly.
• We can take the same base yarn and make a totally different product by changing the weave, pile and nap.
What is Edging?
• The edging is how the towel is finished after the fabric is made and cut to size. Examples are: Overlock, Edgeless & Banding.
• Most towels from big box stores are finished with an overlock stitch. Detailers prefer edgeless towel, for the most part.
Microfiber Care Instructions
1. Wash separate from other non-microfiber towels.
2. Don’t use bleach or fabric softener.
3. Dry on low or no heat.
4. Use a dedicated Microfiber Detergent.
5. Don’t use too much detergent.
6. You can soak the towels in a mixture of water and microfiber detergent if they are extra dirty.
7. If you use too much detergent use vinegar in the rinse cycle.
8. Don’t wash glass and drying towels with towel that have chemicals on them.
9. Wash wheel and engine towels separate.
How to Properly Store Microfiber
• It is important to store your microfiber away from environmental dust and debris. Many detailers with shops store them in cabinets. Mobile detailers often have plastic bins that the towel are stored in.
• It is a good idea to color code your towels by process and sort and store them based on color and process.
• Proper towel organization and storage is a great way for detailers and shops to increase efficiency and productivity.
When to Replace Your Microfiber
• There is no general answer to this. It depends on the towel and the process that they are used for.
• Many detailers use an A-B-C-D system where new towel are A grade, and once they are used, they are downgraded to lower precision tasks like interior, and finally super dirty tasks like wheel and engine cleaning.
• Washed continuously (without use) most towels can last over 100 washings. But in real world detailing situations they last far fewer cycles.
• How you wash and dry your towels also has a huge influence on their longevity and effectiveness over time.
How to Choose the Correct Towel for Each Detailing Step
There isn’t a correct towel for every detailing process. In reality, a creative and experienced detailer will be able to determine the right towel based on their personal preference, and the process and chemicals that they are using. We can give 10 towels to 10 detailers and generate 100 different opinions. I can however clue you in on certain trends.
• The most popular coating towels are Korean Plush (for high pile) and Mr. Everything (for low pile).
• The most popular glass towel is the No Steak Freak, but the Korean Twist is the consensus “best”.
• For drying towels, the Dreadnought is the most popular.
• For interior towels, I always suggest white towel (regardless of pile/weave) because you can see the dirt, or any dyes that the chemicals can be pulling up, and they will not bleed.
• For wheels and engines, I recommend black towels because other colors will stain.
Things to Avoid with your Microfiber
• Always inspect towels even if new or clean, they can pick up debris.
• Dry on low heat – they can burn
• Wash towels for different tasks separately to reduce cross contamination in the laundry.
• If you drop a towel on the ground be careful and inspect it or switch to a clean towel.