Detailing and Cleaning
Using Microfiber Cloths
In the last few years microfiber has burst onto the auto-detailing scene. Almost overnight microfiber has changed the way people look at car care. However, with any instantly popular product there are a lot of myths, half truths, and flat out lies. In this guide, Pzev (from the focaljet.com forums) will answer a few basic questions about Microfiber, and explain its proper uses.
Procedure:Let�s start with the basics. What is Microfiber? Well, unlike what most people believe MF (short for Microfiber) is a process rather than a material. It�s a process that takes ordinary material like polyester, and weaves it into fibers so small that a single strand is a 100 times finer than a human hair. The advantage to such a process is that the material that results is much softer than the original. Also, several materials can be woven together to take advantage of specific properties they may poses. An example would by polyester, and polymide, which are the two most common materials, found in a MF towel. Polyester is used for its ability to be split and hold dirt, while polymide is used for its absorbency. Other materials that are often woven into MF are cotton, nylon, and even silk. Another key term used when describing MF is whether or not the material has been �split�. Splitting refers to the actual process used to split the fibers that make up a MF towel. When split, the fibers are better at removing contaminants from the surface, and pulling them into the material away from the finish.
What is the advantage of Microfiber? Well, a few of the many advantages are greater absorbency, reduced risk of scratching, and greater cleaning ability. The truth is a MF towel will beat a 100% terry cloth towel every time in the above categories if they are of equal quality.
What makes a good Microfiber towel? A good MF towel is a mixture of many things, but perhaps the most important is weave style. Different weaves are used for different applications. The best example of this is waffle weave drying towels. It was discovered that a waffle type weave was better at removing water from the surface because of the suction effect created by the weave as it moves across the surface. Other examples include coarse weaves for wax and polish removal, and softer thicker weaves for quick detail use. Another key element in a good MF towel is the material that is used, and the percentages of them. The most common materials are polyester and polymide. Depending on the towels use, these materials will be varied in percentage. Usually the percentage is 80-20 polyester to polymide. However, natural fibers like cotton are also used. These towels while softer and more scratch resistant usually don�t have the �bite�, or cleaning power of synthetic blends. This again emphasizes that certain towels are for certain jobs. Perhaps the final key element that makes a good MF towel is the seams. The seams of a towel are the most dangerous areas as they can easily scratch the surface. There are several ways manufacturers go about seaming their towels. There are seams where a material such as silk is sewn around the edges. This is nice as it limits the chance of fraying, but the thread used to sew the silk on the edge can scratch a vehicles finish. Another type of edging used is hot cutting. A hot blade is used to melt the edges together. This is also good as it limits fraying however once again the melted material can scratch the paint. The third type of edging is actually no edge at all. Often called edgeless towels these towels employ some sort of reverse sewing that keeps the wave together. This is most scratch resistant, but depending on the mfg they may be more prone to fraying with continued use.
Do you really need Microfiber? The simple truth is MF has proven to be safer on painted surfaces than 100% cotton. However, it really comes down to the person. Many people still feel uncomfortable using synthetic materials like polyester on their paint, while others don�t want to go out and buy all new towels. Eventually though, MF will take the crown for detailing towel of choice.
Where can you get Microfiber towels? You can get MF at almost all auto parts stores and warehouse stores around, whether or not they will be of acceptable quality is another story. For now, the Internet is the best source of MF around�and the only place to get the best towels. However, recently large detailing supply companies like Meguiars have started offering a line of MF. In fact, the majority of the Megs MF offerings are very nice for their price and availability. Companies like Zwipes also sell decent Microfiber products.
Here are some quality MF vendors on the internet- (special note: Many of these sites also have great info about Microfiber if you wish to read more.)
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