Since we’re much better at getting cars dirty than cleaning them, we’ve reached out to our favorite car detailing guru Jason Yard with Malco Automotive Products to get some expert vehicle washing and cleaning tips and advice.

For this article, he’s talking about the proper care and feeding for microfiber towels.

See other car detailing tips and advice from Malco by clicking here.


man wiping a window clean with a microfiber towel
(Image/Malco Automotive Products)

Understanding Microfiber Towels

When it comes to cleaning up your vehicle, the accessories are often as important as the chemicals that do the hard work.

The most popular of these tools is the microfiber towel. But what does microfiber mean? And how is it different from a standard shop towel?

Microfiber is defined as a fiber that is one denier or less. A denier is a measurement of fineness equal to a unit of fiber that weighs one gram for each 9,000 meters—meaning it is really, really small.

To put it into perspective, microfiber is 1/100 the diameter of a human hair and 1/20 the diameter of a strand of silk. One square inch of microfiber cloth has approximately 200,000 fibers. Now, take a glance at the label of the microfiber cloths you use for cleaning. Often times, they’re made of a blend of polyester and polyamide or nylon.

In short, this means the cloths are made of plastic.

The polyester and polyamide are combined in such a way that the fibers are split. In addition to creating more fiber surfaces with which to clean, this makes the cloths very porous.

The main takeaway from all of this is that they do a really great job of cleaning both inside and outside of your vehicle and when cleaning, polishing or waxing paint, they will not scratch that precious finish.

With one caveat—they must be clean.

A dirty microfiber towel can easily scratch clear coat. This does not mean you have to use a new microfiber every time you wipe your car down. If properly cared for, a quality microfiber towel can last for years.

man cleaning car seat with malco microfiber towel
(Image/Malco Automotive Products)

Best Practices for Microfiber Towel Care

  • Start with a quality microfiber towel. Look for the GSM number on the package: “Grams per Square Meter” refers to the weight and rating of the microfiber.
    • If the GSM is over 250 it will have a higher thread density and is good for cleaning.
    • If over 400 these are considered ultra-soft and are great for polishing or buffing off wax.
  • Keep your towels separate. Mixing different GSM microfibers isn’t important, but mixing a microfiber cloth with anything non-microfiber is not good. The fine threads of microfiber can easily be clogged with cotton and lint from standard towels.
  • Separate your soils. Depending on what you’re cleaning, it’s a good idea to keep your towels separate depending on the cleaning agent or use of the towel.
    • It is best to keep cleaning/degreasing towels together, dressing/silicone towels together, and wax and polish towels together. This way the soils and chemicals don’t cross contaminate when they’re being washed. One easy method is just to keep two to three small bins or crates of microfibers, and when one is full, you throw it in the washing machine.

The Most Important Factor is to Wash Them Properly—Here’s How

  • Use a concentrated detergent like Malco’s Microfiber Refresh, that is free of fragrances, softeners, and bleach. Any of these elements in a laundry detergent will clog the fine threads and kill the softness. Do not add any fabric softeners to the machine.
  • You can wash microfibers with warm water, but never hot water. Heat will also negatively affect the fibers. It’s always a good idea to add a second rinse to remove any excess chemical from the towels.
  • Dry on the no-heat, air dry, or low-heat setting. Again, getting microfibers too hot will kill the softness and cleaning ability of the towel. Never dry on high heat and do not use dryer sheets.

That’s it—if you properly care for microfiber towels, they will last for years and years.

And if you start with quality towels, washing them will pay for itself in no time. A clean microfiber towel is often the best tool in a detailer’s arsenal.

microfiber towels and cleaner on fender of an old car
(Image/Malco Automotive Products)


Want more? Malco maintains its own detailed Tech Tips/Knowledge Center. It’s definitely worth checking out too.