this may be a dumb question but how can you tell if you have a "real" micrfiber towel? (one thats good for your car)
Recent threads cropping up on various boards inspired me to do a mini write-up to illustrate the fact that not all microfiber is created equal. Variations in component ratios (polyamide and polyester) methods of production, density, fiber length, etc all play an important part in the construction of a quality towel.
THINGS TO AVOID -
Low ratio towels: Typically cheap towels, sold in bulk, at discount stores and you'll know simply by looking at the tag. A ratio of polyamide and polyester of 80/20 or lower will typically not be a paint safe towel. Some cheaper chinese made towels will be as low as 90/10!! Not fit for touching your paint, probably not even fit to use as toilet paper for that matter!! Good towels will have a ratio in the 60/40 or even 70/30 range.
Tags: Sewn in tags are a NO NO! The tag itself as well as the thread used to sew it into the seem are both potential ares for scratches and swirls to appear. Simply ripping the tag off doesn't alleviate the problem in most cases as the seem will still have hard nylon thread there. Just say no to sewn in tags.
Hot wire cuts: Towels produced in bulk are typically hot wire cut by the thousands leading to hard scratchy edges. The materials that compose a microfiber are man-made and melt at high heat, so by utilizing hot wire cutting these edges are melted into solid hard plastic like pieces. The melting and heat can impact the towels as far as a 1/4" or more into the face of the towel leaving you with very scratchy fibers.
Short fibers: With extremely short fibers you lose any density in the towel and thus the ability to allow dust, polish residue, or surface contamination to retreat into the towel. Short fiber towels will generally be less effective, take more wipes, and leave streaks when removing products.
THATS ALL FINE AND DANDY, BUT WHERE'S THE PROOF? -
There is a simple test anyone can perform at home to determine if their towels are safe for use on paint. All you need is a clean, blank, DVD-R or DVD-RW and good lighting. The writable surface of a DVD has very similar properties to clear coat in that if it is scratched by one a towel, that towel will most likely swirl up paint.
STEP ONE: I carefully removed a blank DVD from its packaging and inspect for existing scratches or scuffs on the recordable side of the disc -
STEP 2: I determine what towels I'd be testing. For this writeup we'll be testing an Adams Double-Soft Premium microfiber towel vs. a common over the counter Chinese made bulk towel found at many local stores. According to the sewn in tag the ratio is 80/20. Both were fresh out of their packaging, never used, never washed.
STEP 3: I marked each side of the disc to avoid any confusion about what towel had touched what side of the disc being sure to avoid touching the surface with my hands.
STEP 4: Wrapping the Adam's towel around my finger I applied a liberal amount of pressure to the disc then proceeded to wipe vertically a total of 3 times.
STEP 5: The same process was repeated with the BRAND X towel on the other side of the disc.
STEP 6: Being careful not to touch the face of the disc I did a quick inspection under normal light. Even without the aid of my flash it was obvious that the BRAND X side was a little worse for wear.
STEP 7: Firing my flash off directly into the center of the disc showed the real results. The light scratches from just 3 passes of the towel on the BRAND X side are noticeable while the Adams Double Plush side is scratch free!!