TOWEL CARE | MAINTENANCE
So you're about to make an investment on a variety of towels specifically formulated to slake your thirst for detailing? Excellent, my friend. While you put these assortment of towels to good use, there are a few nuances of maintenance that one should know before placing these towels through another battle of deep cleaning.
1. In essence, microfiber towels come in three different categories including high-pile, medium-pile, and low-pile. While each category is designed to handle different projects within the detailing process, one should be aware of the overall density. The density of any given towel is measured by fibers per square inch. In other words, the higher the thread count, the more effective the towel will become at cleaning and absorbing liquids.
2. Your garden variety microfiber towel will typically carry a thread count of anywhere between 90-225,000 fibers per square inch. It's recommended that you always purchase a towel based on quality versus quantity. Conversely, the same concept rings true when caring for your detailing towels.
3. Much like washing a cotton-based drying towel at home, general microfiber towels require a liquid-based detergent. Never, never, never. Did I say never? Never use a powder-based detergent as the granules within the detergent have the susceptibility of sinking deep into fibers, therefore transferring into the pile and leaving behind a chalk-like residue on the surface that you're trying to restore.
4. Once it's time to throw a load of dirty microfiber towels into the washing machine, be sure to choose lukewarm water rather than piping-hot water. The reason being is because once a general microfiber towel cycles through a load of hot water, the fibers and edging within the composition of the towel can fray, therefore rendering the towel useless and invariably reducing the longevity of its cleaning power and water absorbency. Even worse, that same towel could leave behind micro-marring on delicate finishes and aftermarket paint. If you should find yourself in a conundrum, recycle any seasoned or aged towel and use them exclusively for generic cleaning around your working space (storage, floors, tools, etc.) At the end of the day, good towels aren't cheap and can always serve a secondary purpose once they've outlived their effective lifespan.
5. Trust me, there's nothing more infuriating than coming face-to-face with a towel that's been saturated with excessive residue. When I mention this, I'm referring to the concept of residue control, which will be discussed in another dedicated blog. Whether you're a sole proprietorship or seasoned veteran, there'll be times when a trusted towel will become obstructed with leftover polishing agents (polishes, compounds, glazes, etc.) When this happens, the fibers will render themselves useless, and in some cases, running them through a regular washing cycle won't dislodge any excess. Under no circumstances should you try to overcompensate by running them through a hot cycle, as you'll be adding insult to injury. Rather, prepare a bucket of lukewarm water along with a trusted shampoo solution and dunk them in for a minimum of 24 hours. If this method should fail, pour 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar into your detergent port. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and while I'm partial to the latter, it should be known that any form of vinegar contains a certain percentage of acetic acid. Introducing anything acidic to our cleaning process should always become your last resort.
6. A general microfiber towel will be able to hold 5-8 times its weight in water. However, waffle-weave drying towels will typically hold 15-20 times its weight in water if properly used. When caring for these particular towels, make sure to also choose lukewarm water while still using a trusted liquid-based detergent. The advantage to using waffle-weave drying towels is that most will come with a silk-banded edge, which in turn will greatly reduce the potential of instilling any inadvertent scratching or marring on the surface you're cleaning.
7. Last but not least, be absolutely sure to segregate your general microfiber towels from your waffle-weave drying towels. Each category of towel carries a particular purpose and thread count, which is why it's absolutely crucial to keep them disassociated with one another. Hypothetically speaking, if you were to toss all of these towels into one pile, the contamination from any one project that might contain remnants of compound or polish, mixed-in with the unique thread pattern can contaminate another towel, rendering it useless. As you continue to use a particular towel over and over, the fibers will eventually lose its effectiveness. The best way to determine whether a towel has reached the end of its life is to simply graze your hand across the surface. If the towel feels coarse to the touch, it's time to replace it with a new one.
8. Make no mistake, an ever-growing field of manufacturers are muscling their way to the top of the detailing industry very quickly. Naturally, with the introduction of new towel specific companies, new designs and improvements are starting to gain a great deal of popularity including high-pile hybrids, silk-banded edges, custom sizing, and in increase in GSM production and compatibility. At the bottom of this article, you'll find a small handful of detail-specific towels that continue to output great results for my operation.