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Author Topic: Great microfiber article  (Read 1406 times)

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Offline Obsessive Detail

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Great microfiber article
« on: September 19, 2008, 08:50:29 AM »
I got this from another detailing forum, I thought this information would be helpful.

Microfibre (Microfiber) Towels

It?s a revolutionary product that?s not causing a revolution.
By now, 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? is not regulated, great products share the same labeling with poor ones, exacerbating the problem of trust.

Microfibre definition
Microfibre 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 (2X as fine as silk and 100X 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 microfibre 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 fibres are processed and spun, there are too many factors to be able to say conclusively that natural fibres will not cause scratches and artificial fibres will. However, natural fibres 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 microfibre was a combination of two DuPont fibres, polyester and polyamide, which is used as the core and polyester as the outer fibre. 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 micro-fibers 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 microfibre that originates from Asia and the Far East is fabricated from polyester or nylon by-products. Because the label says microfibre 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 microfibre, or a 100% cotton towel will both scratch, microfibre 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.

To ensure your towels and buffing cloths provide long-term use, wash them frequently in a liquid soap (Micro Restore) in hot (120oF<) water, add a teaspoon per towel distilled white vinegar (the vinegar doesn't coat the fibers but instead works to eliminate detergent residue), and finally a thorough cold rinse. Always wash micro fiber separately and only with other micro fiber fabrics.

Towel density - is a measure of fibres per square inch of fabric. The range for quality microfibre is 90,000 to 225,000 fibres per square inch. The higher the fibre count the more absorbent .
Ratio - of polyester and polyamide blend; 80% polyester and 20% polyamide is typical, 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.


General Purpose - a microfibre 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.

Glass - microfibre 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.

Drying - There are two different microfibre toweling weaves that make good drying towels: terry cloth and Piqu? or waffle weave. ? Piqu? 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." Leo Cerruti

When choosing microfibe towels 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. Microfibre quality is very often refelected in the purchase price, best advise, use only high quality microfire towels from a reputable source.

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 microfibre 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, it's polyester and will probably scratch your paint.

Regardless of material type or quality, a dirty microfibre, or a 100% Cotton towel will scratch, microfibre 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

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Offline BigRed150

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Re: Great microfiber article
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2008, 01:44:05 PM »

 Good info, but now that I've tried the burn test on all my towels, I need some more.  :pitty:
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