Microfiber towels are super absorbent and soft which makes them great for a range of jobs, including cleaning cars. However, the nature of microfiber means that it grabs onto dirt and other materials very strongly, so it’s really important that the towels are cared for properly.
Here’s how to wash microfiber towels properly:
- Wash the towels after every use on a low temperature (30-40°C or 85-105°F)
- Use a dedicated microfiber detergent or non-bio liquid
- Do not use fabric softener
- Only wash microfiber towels with other microfiber towels, not with any other fabrics.
- Separate bright/ dark colours with lighter ones to prevent colour bleed
- Wash heavily soiled microfiber towels separately compared to cleaner towels
- Hang to air dry. Do not put them on high heat in a dryer or on a radiator
Do’s and Don’ts of Washing Microfiber Towels
1. Wash on a Low Temperature
Microfiber is compromised of polyester and polyamide. Both of these polymers can melt, and when they cool, they will harden. Hence, when you wash a microfiber towel on a high temperature, it will harden up and become useless for car detailing as it risks scratching and swirling the paintwork.
The best temperature to wash microfiber towels is between 30-40°C or 85-105°F.
I use the standard wash cycle on my machine.
2. Use a Dedicated Microfiber Detergent or Non-Bio Liquid
When washing microfiber towels, you should only ever use a dedicated microfiber detergent, or non-bio liquid detergent. Both these options will clean the microfiber effectively and without damaging the fibres.
I personally use Rags to Riches Microfiber Detergent by The Rag Company and P&S (Amazon link). I’ve found this to be the best option for keeping the microfiber soft and clean.
It’s not the cheapest option though, so if you have a lot of towels to clean, then consider using a non-bio liquid detergent from your local store instead. Just make sure it’s a “free and clear” detergent which does not contain fabric softeners or bleach.
Never use washing powder or bleach to clean your microfiber towels.
Washing powder is a poor choice because the particles may not fully dissolve during the wash cycle and get stuck in the fibres. This makes the towel abrasive which is terrible for car detailing and can lead to scratches and swirl marks being inflicted on the paintwork.
Bleach will also cause the microfiber to either break down or harden up so should never be used.
3. Do Not Use Fabric Softener
Never use any fabric softener when washing microfiber towels. Fabric softener essentially coats the individual fibres causing them to become clogged. This means the microfiber will lose its soft and absorbent properties.
If you need a water softener, try using distilled white vinegar instead. This isn’t essential for everyone (especially if you’re using a dedicated microfiber detergent) but it can be handy for very clogged towels.
Don’t add vinegar in with the detergent though as this will neutralise it and cause it to be ineffective. Instead, add it to the bleach/ fabric softener port in your washing machine. This will cause it to dispense during the rinse cycle.
4. Only Wash Microfiber with Microfiber
As I said at the start of this article, microfiber grabs onto dirt and lint very strongly. In order to avoid this, you should only wash your microfiber towels with other microfiber towels, and never with cotton.
Otherwise, you’ll find that your microfiber towels not only feel stiffer, but they leave lint all over the car when you’re using them! So, make sure you always separate your microfiber towels from your other fabrics when putting them in the wash.
5. Separate Colors
Microfiber towels can bleed dye like other fabrics, so follow the same rules as you normally do when washing clothes and split dark and light colors.
The most common colors that bleed dye are black, blue, and red. I personally only wash these darker colors together to avoid turning my lovely white towels pink instead!
6. Wash Microfiber Towels for Different Jobs Separately
I’d advise washing heavily soiled microfiber towels separately from cleaner towels in order to prevent cross-contamination.
This goes for towels which are visibly dirty, and those that are clogged with products like waxes and sealants. I always wash towels that I’ve used for polishes separately as polish is abrasive, so I don’t want the residue clogging my wax/ sealant towels.
Some people also like to separate their glass towels from any other microfiber towels to avoid lint, however I don’t personally find this to be necessary.
If you have heavily soiled towels, consider soaking them first in a clean bucket of water with some of your microfiber/ liquid non-bio detergent. This will help to get them cleaner once you put them in your washing machine.
7. Air Dry (Do Not Use a High-Heat Dryer or Radiator)
Microfiber towels are very sensitive to heat. High temperatures will cause the fibres to melt and singe, meaning they harden up and are no longer safe for use on the paintwork of the car.
That’s why it’s important to air dry microfiber towels instead of putting them on high-heat in a tumble dryer or on a radiator. They will take longer to dry this way, but trust me it’s much better than ruining your towels!
I always hang my towels to dry indoors to avoid dust and debris from outside settling on the towel.
It is possible to tumble dry microfiber on a low-heat to fluff up the fibres as this will not cause damage. However I personally prefer to just let them air dry as it’s much cheaper!
8. Store in Enclosed Containers or Bags
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times now, microfiber grabs onto dirt, lint and dust easily. That’s why you need to make sure you store your microfiber towels properly to keep them clean between uses.
I personally store all my microfiber towels in clear plastic bags which I reuse. This prevents any dust settling on the towel when it’s being stored. Alternatively, you can use a tub with a secure lid that creates a tight seal so dust and dirt can’t get in.
Do’s and Don’ts of Washing Microfiber Towels
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some more questions you might have about washing and drying microfiber towels.
Should I wash microfiber towels after every use?
It is recommended to wash microfiber towels after every single use. This is because they stick to dust, lint and dirt easily so it’s important that this is washed out before the towel is used again for best results.
How do I make microfiber towels feel soft again?
If the microfiber towel has hardened because it has become clogged with products, add 25 mL of white wine vinegar during the rinse cycle to soften the microfiber. Alternative, wash using a dedicated microfiber detergent.
Should I wash the microfiber towel before using it for the first time?
It is recommended to wash microfiber towels before using them for the first time in order to remove any lint, dust and debris that may have been picked up during manufacturing or transport.
Can I wash microfiber towels by hand?
If the microfiber towels are lightly soiled then they can be washed by hand, however it is recommended to wash microfiber towels in a washing machine for the best results.
What are the best microfiber towels?
I’ve written this complete guide to the best microfiber towels for car detailing which includes my top picks for every task (e.g. glass, drying, wax removal, etc.) and what to look out for.