Car Care & Tips – The Scoop on Microfiber Towels

By Auto News Log • August 9th, 2010

The Scoop on Microfiber Towels

Microfiber is a revolutionary man made fiber that can be processed, woven and finished in a variety of different ways to achieve a specific result. Unprocessed (fibers not split) Microfiber, woven in a flat weave, has very poor water absorption characteristics. In fact, it is used to manufacture water resistant clothing. The same Microfiber thread, processed by splitting the individual threads and weaving in a loop or waffle pattern, is now super absorbent. It will absorb over seven times its weight in fluids!

Microfiber is a man-made product that combines two basic fibers, Polyester and Polyamide (a nylon by-product). These fibers are usually “split” and formed into a woven fabric of 80% Polyester (the scrubbing and cleaning fiber), and 20% Polyamide (the absorbing and quick drying fiber).

These threads are very small in diameter making them super soft. Rated in denier, the unit for measuring fineness of fabric, a strand of cotton has a rating of 200. A human hair has a denier of 20 and a strand of silk has a denier of 8. Microfiber has a denier of 0.01 to 0.02! At minimum, 100 times finer than a human hair. Softer than silk, yet bull-dog tough, split Microfiber cloth attracts dust, grime, oily films and salt residues like a magnet.

The unique surface structure of split Microfiber cloth contain hundreds of thousands of micro fiber “hooks” per square inch! These micro-hooks grab, lift, and hold dust and grime without the need for cleaning solutions. Microfiber cloth can be used damp or dry. Used dry, Microfiber cloth works like a chamois. The super absorbent weaves holds up to seven times its weight in fluid and will not scratch paint, glass, acrylics or plastic window tint films.

What’s the difference between a $2.00 Microfiber towel and a $15 or $20 Microfiber towel?

With demand for Microfiber products increasing monthly, factories in Korea and China are now flooding the American market with very cheap “Microfiber” products. There is a huge difference between inexpensive and quality Microfiber:

1. The strands are not split. 70 to 75% of inexpensive Microfiber now coming out of Korea and China is unprocessed, non-split Microfiber. Unless you want a water-resistant material, unprocessed, non-split Microfiber is worthless! Many of you have seen packages showing a drawing of a snowflake-looking fiber with wedges around the perimeter scooping up dust particles. While this looks great it is a picture of non-split, unprocessed Microfiber! Processed, split Microfiber looks like a tangle of spaghetti ends. The reason for the abundance of this fabric is simple. Machines that produce the raw Microfiber thread can be purchased for under $100,000. The machines that do the splitting and processing of the thread into the Microfiber “hooks” cost over $1,000,000. Only the largest fabric producers in Korea can afford these machines and according to industry insiders, few of these machines exist in China.

2. The Microfiber threads are larger. The industry standard for Microfiber is a denier of 0.02 or smaller. We have found some “Microfiber” cloths coming out of China with a denier of 0.5. This is fine but 50 times larger than the best Microfiber thread. Chinese and inexpensive Korean Microfiber products have very poor absorption and scrubbing qualities.

There are also differences between quality, processed and split Microfiber products:

1. The ratio of the blend. While 80% Polyester and 20% Polyamide is typical, a 70/30 blend that contains more Polyamide fibers can be more expensive.

2. The density of the fibers per square inch. At 221,000 fibers per square inch, our Magic Towel contains the maximum density commercially available with today’s technology. This density translates into greater cleaning power. A cloth with 50,000 fibers per square inch can cost less but will not clean as well.

3. The thickness or “plushness” of the towel. The thicker the towel the more it will grab, lift and hold grime and residues.

4. The finish on the cloth. Depending on the specific task the cloth is designed to perform, the fiber ends can be tightly “hooked” (better for grabbing and holding grime and residues), feathered (best for general glass cleaning), or finely polished, like suede (best for cleaning eye glasses and optical glass). Newer weaves include a waffle weave, cross hatch and zigzag weave which are relatively obscure.

5. Quality of construction. Like anything else, it costs more to make a quality Microfiber cloth. The largest Microfiber producers do the final splitting and finishing in clean-room-like environments. These are the finest, lint-free towels.

Why do some Microfiber towels leave a trail of fine, lint-like fibers?

The best Microfiber towels are split to produce millions and millions of tiny fiber “hooks” on the surface of the towel. If the weave is too broad or the pile is too high, some of these fibers break off when the towel is used. This can be excessive if the manufacturer is trying to produce an inexpensive, split towel and is using a wide weave to reduce the amount of Microfiber in the towel. Unfortunately it is a common practice among mills to try and increase their profits by skimping on the amount of Microfiber used in the weave.


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