Micro fibre (Microfiber) Towels
A Microfiber towel is made from polyester nylon (a scrubbing fibre) and /polyamide (an absorbing fibre), these microscopic loops, which form a network of tiny hooks, scrubbing away dirt and grime while trapping it within the weave, the reason polyester appears to absorb liquids is the many thousands of micro fibres that collectively encapsulate liquids
Polyester (fabric) has a melting point of 509 °F (265 °C), and Polyamide 420°F (216°C), so the normal washing machine temperatures available will not melt the fibres. Dry micro fibre towels on a low-heat setting and limit drying time as constant tumbling will result in static or air-dry them
Be cognizant that although most of us consider Microfiber to be almost indestructible it needs proper care to ensure it keeps working the way it should and to maintain its durability.
The nature of this yarn is that it is an absorbent; the reason polyester appears to absorb liquids is the many thousands of micro fibres that collectively encapsulate liquids and chemicals (solvents, wax, polymers, and etc).
The detergent used to clean them must be strong enough to remove the chemicals without harming the fibres. The methods used for towel drying are equally important, high heat plus the agitation of an automatic dryer can round the edges of the microscopic hooks, rendering them ineffective
Before using Washing Machine
To ensure that the washing machine has no residual detergent or fabric softener; rise the machine drum with a 1:3 solution of washing liquid (with no bleach) / distilled white vinegar, clean about every 2-3 months
Car care products can get left behind in the drum; so run a cleaning cycle before and another once you've finished washing your micro fibre towels, using hot water, some liquid detergent and distilled white vinegar.
(HE) Washing Machine Maintenance
Wash towels on hottest setting (sanitary cycle, max time, extra rinse) Modern high-efficiency washer’s use less water and seal more tightly than older, less-efficient machines, these washers are more prone to residue build-up. To address this issue, Whirlpool pioneered the development of Affresh tablets, a simple, powerful and universal solution. All brands of HE washing machines have the potential for mould and mildew stains if not properly cleaned on a regular basis.
To ensure maximum performance, appliance manufacturers recommend a monthly maintenance and cleaning routine. Many cleaning products currently on the market with ingredients such as bleach adequately maintain the washer, but results may vary and are not always consistent.
Used every 4-8 weeks (dependent upon machine usage) it will prevents odour-causing residues from accumulating, although heavily soiled washers may require repeated treatments to remove traces of odour and residue. In this case, Whirlpool recommends running three successive washer cleaning cycles with an Affresh tablet in each.
Wash Towels after use
Always wash towels as soon as possible after use, the longer they sit the more the contaminants will set. The chemicals used in car care products will negatively affect the fibres structural integrity and weaken them, shortening their useful life. Residual chemicals will cause streaking, whereas dried chemicals will cause scratches.
Do not use bleach or high alkaline cleaning products as they will shorten the life of your micro fibre. Read the label on the detergent bottle and use half of what they recommend and use hot water (120.oF)
Do not wash different types of towels together. And always wash each colour separately; never wash white towels with colours.
Nothing removes lint out of the towel (new or used) better than a few spin dryer cycles. Washing also makes your new towels softer and more absorbent. A good first wash formula is 1 cup of distilled white vinegar with a half cup of detergent. This will help release lint, break towels in, and keep them fresh. It is also useful to soak new towels in a cup of ammonia and several gallons of warm water.
This will dissolve any oils or treatments in the fabric that inhibit absorbency. Another good wash formula is 1 cup of ammonia with a half cup of detergent.
Do not overload the machine, (55-65%) use just enough for a good medium sized load, and remember that micro fibre towels hole ~ seven times its weight of water, so by using too many they will not be cleaned effectively. A large washing machine can usually accommodate 35 – 40 medium sized towels
Washing / Care Directions
Heat acts as a catalyst promoting quicker reactions between chemicals and the soil thereby minimizing dwell time. Warm or hot water helps dissolve grease and oil in soil, agitation or hand rubbing helps pull the soil free. This concentrated aqueous formula is a special blend of surfactants, emulsifiers, chelating agents and water softeners.
Micro fibre towels can "load-up" with residues reducing their effectiveness. Don't let polish residues dry in the fibres as dried hardened product can cause scratches and product chemicals can negatively affect the fibres
Once you have finished detailing with the towel, allow it to soak in a bucket with approx 0.5 oz per gallon water and a d-limonene (citrus) based cleaner P21S®® Total Auto Wash. Or use Optimum Power Clean™ diluted 2:1 (or stronger) with distilled water) or a micro fibre detergent (Micro-Restore).
This will make it easier to clean and prolong the life of the towel as any chemicals that could potentially harm the fibres are removed sooner, keep in mind that excessive use of powerful degreasers may eventually damage the fabric. When you are ready to clean them, rinse well, machine-wash and leave to air-dry
· Wash / Rinse after using and before you use a different product (i.e. don’t use to remove polish and then apply wax) to avoid cross contamination
· Always wash towels separately from other fabrics using hot water, the primary consideration is detergent residue so always use a detergent that is clean-rinsing
· Wash drying towels separate from wax/polish towels
· Washing your towels on a regular basis without allowing them get too soiled, they will last much longer
· Some detergents contain enzymes, which don't work well in cold water.
· Woolite® is intended for delicate fabrics and fine washables such as lingerie and cashmere sweaters, so it won’t remove polish or car care products
· Soak towels in Sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda or soda crystals) or Optimum Power Clean™ as it effectively removes oil and grease
· As a pre-spotter: dilute 1 part concentrates with 3 parts hot water, apply to stain and launder as usual.
· Do not overload washer or dryer; it causes your towels’ fibres to weaken and lint
· Waxes and polymer sealants are not water soluble; they dry and adhere to the towels fibres. Cold water will simply allow them to remain in a solid state and not completely wash off.
· Hot water, however, allows them to soften and loosen from the threads and allows the detergent to act as it should and lift the contaminants from the fabric. Use medium heat, 104 .oF (40.o C) and add 1-2 ounces to a standard size (8 gallon) load, for larger loads or heavily soiled laundry
· Use a liquid detergent (or a speciality product like Micro-Restore high efficiency (HE) washer safe) without softener, bleach, whiteners.
· If possible buy the versions that are perfume and additive free as all these do is chemically coat the fabric and reduce its efficiency.
· Using half the washing detergents manufacturers suggested amount is usually sufficient
During the rinse cycle add 1-tsb per towel white distilled vinegar (acetic acid that once diluted with water, the acid content is approximately 3-4% of the total solutions) this will help dissolve detergent and hard water minerals. Vinegar (Acetic acid, pH=2) works well in the rinse cycle to make your towels softer. Detergent is an alkaline (pH=12, the opposite of acidic on the pH scale).
When you wash your towels (or anything for that matter) there are small amounts of detergent left behind, when your add Vinegar it balances the pH of the solution and helps removes the excess detergent from the wash.
· Do not use fabric softeners (includes both liquid and dryer sheet type fabric softeners) as they deposit chemicals (silicone, etc) on the fabric and render them ineffective. These chemicals will also transfer to whatever you are cleaning or polishing with the towel.
· Clean the lint screen before and after every wash session
Over time you may find your micro fibre’s effectiveness decreases, despite following all of the above guidelines, this may be due to wax / polish build-up.
To remedy try one of the following -
To remedy try one of the following -
1. Wash the microfiber for one full wash cycle normally. Then wash again, except this time open the lid and let it soak overnight. In the morning, close the lid and let the cycle finish.
2. Wash the microfiber for one full wash cycle normally. Then wash again, but instead of laundry detergent, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the load (assuming a medium to full size load). Run the cycle normally
3. If your towels lose their absorbency, try boiling them to dissolve product and release the fibres. Drain the water before removing the towel(s) otherwise residues will be re-deposited (see also melting point Polymer / Polyester).
Micro-Restore - because most detergents and laundry soaps have some form of optical fabric brighteners (Z)-Stilbene or fabric softener included in their formulas. Over time bleach breaks down the micro-fibres, and fabric softeners clog the microscopic pours that make microfiber so effective, rendering the microfiber product less effective with each washing.
Micro-Restore is superior for treating, cleaning and preparing microfibers because it is a powerful degreaser strong detergent with the absence of bleach and fabric softeners, it also breaks down heavy wax, oil and grease.
It will extend the life of your microfiber, due to its special blend of chelating agents, surfactants, and builders will more effectively remove the heavy residue (wax, oil, grease, break dust, and other chemicals) that becomes implanted in microfiber products. This product doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals that could be detrimental to HE washing machines
Directions: Add 2 ounces to standard size (8 gallon) loads. For larger loads or heavily soiled laundry, add 3-6 ounces. As a pre-spotter; us a 1:3 distilled water solution.
Periodically - clean them with distilled white vinegar (no washing liquids) Wash these towels with 1/4 cup of white vinegar - nothing else. Any kind of laundry soap will leave residue that remains in the micro-fibre, which will then leave streaks, smears or haze. After washing them in vinegar, re-wash with just clean water ... just to be 100% sure there's no soap residue in the micro-fibres
Rinsing – use baking soda (Arm & Hammer™) add 1/2 cup to the rinse cycle to freshen towels
Drying - machine drying fabrics makes them softer to the touch as it straightens the fibres allowing the fibres to separate and reform to their original position. Spin drying also helps to remove any lint reside from the towels. The down side is that they may pick up fabric softener residue from the machine
I would like to think that these articles become an asset to anyone who is new to detailing and to professionals alike, as well as industry experts who seek to advance their knowledge.
I hope the above article was informative. By having some understanding of the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ as well as the ‘How’ along with a little science to help you understand how the chemicals we use react, you can achieve the results you desire.
I would appreciate it if you would share this article as it helps other detailers further their knowledge.
Questions and/ or constructive comments are always appreciated.
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