What Are The Best Microfiber Towels for Cleaning Cars? – 2019 Edition
When it’s time to give your vehicle a good rub-down, you’ll need the right microfiber towel to ensure that your car’s beautiful exterior is squeaky clean and streak-free.
Microfiber towels have a handful of different properties which you may not know that you’re looking for, however. Some towels have high fiber counts, silk lining, and different polymers which make them easier or harder to clean.
In this article, we’ll help you figure out which microfiber towels should live in your garage and which will leave your vehicle with streaking and subpar cleaning.
- Quick View: Our Top 3 Microfiber Towel Picks
- Microfiber Towel Reviews
- Our #1 Pick – Chemical Guys MIC_507_06 Professional Grade Premium Microfiber Towel
- Our #2 Pick – Zwipes Auto 879-2 Professional Microfiber Waffle Drying Towel
- Our #3 Pick – SimpleHouseware Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
- Our #4 Pick – THE RAG COMPANY 51616-S 16″ x 16″
- Our #5 Pick – Polyte Microfiber Cleaning Towel
- Our #6 Pick – Meguiar’s X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels
- Our #7 Pick – CARCAREZ Premium Microfiber Towels
- How long should I expect my microfiber towels to last?
- What should I look for in a microfiber towel?
- Is there an appropriate technique for using microfiber towels to clean vehicle exteriors?
- Does color selection matter?
- Is thread count important?
- Is it safe to use microfiber towels?
- What materials are the best for microfiber towels?
- Wiping Down Your Car
Quick View: Our Top 3 Microfiber Towel Picks
Microfiber Towel Reviews
Our #1 Pick – Chemical Guys MIC_507_06 Professional Grade Premium Microfiber Towel
The Chemical Guys are known for their high-quality car products, and this MIC_507 microfiber towel is no exception.
- Silk banded edges
- Streak-free cleaning
- Machine washable
- Low durability
The easy-wash microfiber on these towels means that they’re efficient to use. You’ll find that they readily become your go-to towel for a scrub down or a polishing job, and they won’t leave your fingers feeling raw like less fine fibers might.
The main disadvantage of these towels is that they are not very durable. The fineness of the fibers ensures that they do a great job when you’re cleaning, but the fraying which occurs is unavoidable.
Likewise, the silk edging on the towel is a nice touch, but it falls apart with extended use.
Our #2 Pick – Zwipes Auto 879-2 Professional Microfiber Waffle Drying Towel
These Zwipes microfiber towels are great for wiping down your car with cleaning solutions or other wet-wipe chemicals.
- High absorbency
- Great for wet wipe downs
- Extra large size
- Edges and tag may cause scratching
The waffle-padding on these towels makes them more absorbent than others on the market. They’ll also ensure that when you use them to dry, you don’t have any leftover streaking or staining from liquids.
This is especially important because these towels are meant primarily for use on wet surfaces.
You should take care when you are using these microfiber towels, however. The edges of the towels where the tags are located can cause scratching on new paint jobs. As long as you use the padded part of the towel rather than the edge, you won’t have any problems.
Our #3 Pick – SimpleHouseware Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
While they aren’t made specifically for wiping down your car, these SimpleHouseware microfiber cleaning cloths are great tools for the job thanks to their high thread count and absorbance capacity.
- Nylon and polyester construction
- Moisture-wicking edge ribbons
- Not tolerant of heat
With these microfiber towels, you’ll be ready to polish your vehicle whether, you prefer to do so with a wet cleaning system or a dry wipe. While they don’t have a high number of threads compared to others on the market, you won’t miss them thanks to the blended material.
You should be wary of throwing these towels into the washing machine, however. While they’re technically machine washable, you should refrain from throwing them into the dryer afterward.
Because the towels are made from nylon and polyester, heat will cause the materials to decay faster.
Our #4 Pick – THE RAG COMPANY 51616-S 16″ x 16″
The Rag Company’s microfiber towel has more than 200,000 microfibers per square inch, which means that they’re extremely fine, making them great for detail work.
- Lint-free design
- Color-coding options
- 20% polyamide blend, 80% polyester
- Unlikely to have any antibacterial activity
The thread count and materials of this towel make it great for touching up the freshest of paint jobs. You can even use it on the windshield without worrying about streaking. Dust and grease will fly off your car with a minimal amount of effort.
The marketing claims on these microfiber towels are a little bit exaggerated, however.
While they claim to offer antibacterial capabilities as a result of the towel’s materials, it is highly unlikely that bacteria are a concern for your car — or that the towel does anything to fight bacteria.
Our #5 Pick – Polyte Microfiber Cleaning Towel
These Polyte microfiber cleaning towels are large, absorbent, coarse-grained, and very durable — making them a great pickup for your garage or shop.
- High liquid holding capacity
- Long use lifetime
- No-worry washing
- May feel too large for some people
The size of these towels makes them super durable despite their relatively coarse threading. The coarse threading also makes them better-suited for heavy-duty cleaning jobs in comparison to other microfiber towels.
In other words, these aren’t the microfiber towels for detail work, but they can do the job. They’re intended for deep cleans and serious shine-ups.
If you have small hands, you will probably need to fold the towel a number of times before it is comfortable to palm in your hand. This isn’t a major concern for most people, but nearly everyone will appreciate the extra surface area that these towels offer.
Our #6 Pick – Meguiar’s X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels
Meguiar’s X2020 microfiber towels are the industry standard for serious detail work as a result of their high quality and serious durability.
- Extremely fine fibers
- Doesn’t retain any grease or dirt
- Dense fiber texture
- Falls apart all at once
These towels are great for polishing your vehicle to have a perfect and mirror-like sheen. Save them for the luxury vehicles and sports cars that need touching up. They can handle serious cleaning jobs, but their real strength is in the detail work rather than the bulk mopping.
While these microfiber towels are durable, the density of their material means that when they reach their limit, they tend to fall apart all at once. In other words, they aren’t like other rags, where you might find yourself using them with visible tattering.
These towels are for using until they “break” — but not for using until they’re in tatters. Once you see a hole, it’s time to toss them.
Our #7 Pick – CARCAREZ Premium Microfiber Towels
Thanks to these edgeless CARCAREZ microfiber towels, you’ll be able to do a deep clean or a touch-up with the same piece of fabric.
- Edgeless and seamless
- Works for inside detailing too
- Soft on your hands
- Doesn’t play nicely with all cleaning chemicals
When you use these microfiber towels, you’ll be ready for the largest chunks of dirt — or the smallest splashes of liquid. Whether you’re using them on the inside of the car or on the body, it’s hard to go wrong with these towels.
You should take care when you apply cleaning chemicals to your towel when you clean your vehicle. Chemicals intended to clean interiors are harsher on the towel’s integrity than chemicals intended for use on the outside of the vehicle.
How long should I expect my microfiber towels to last?
Your microfiber towels will have durability that varies with their size, material, and grain.
Fine-grain microfiber towels tend to have lower durability than coarse-grained towels because their thickness is much lower. The mechanical force of rubbing the towel against vehicles wears down fine-grained towels more rapidly than coarse-grained towels.
Coarse-grain microfiber towels may last longer, but there’s no guarantee.
The biggest single thing which will cause your microfiber towels to decay quickly is interior cleaning products. Especially with products which contain solvents or chemicals designed to treat leather, your microfiber towels will incur wear and tear faster than they would otherwise.
When you do use harsh cleaning products, use a coarse-grained towel. Preferably, use a small towel with coarse grains and only use it when you have caustic chemicals to clean with. That way, your other and more valuable microfiber towels won’t be damaged.
If you clean your vehicle once per month, your microfiber towel will probably last for five years before needing replacement. But, if you’re using microfiber towels commercially, you’ll need to replace them far more rapidly.
If you clean a vehicle several times a day, one microfiber cloth might be worn out as rapidly as a month or two. Especially when you use cleaning chemicals, microfiber cloths are intended to be somewhat disposable.
So, don’t be too surprised when your fine-grained microfiber towel develops a hole right where you apply the most pressure during your cleaning routine.
What should I look for in a microfiber towel?
When you’re shopping for a microfiber towel, you should try to find towels which have:
- No seams or tags
- Application-appropriate coarseness or fineness
- Machine washability
- Sufficient absorbency
- Sufficient size
Seams and tags may seem innocuous, but in fact, they may cause damage to your vehicle and provide a sub-par wipe. Tags are larger offenders than seams because the stitching on tags can sometimes be coarse enough to scratch a new paint job.
What’s more, tags carry less moisture than the rest of the towel, so they can be a source of droplets that prevent a beautiful shining polish job from being complete. The moisture from the towel will wick into the tag and saturate it, causing the tag to then leave staining on the paint.
Tags can also scratch fresh paint jobs in some cases. Typically, tags only scratch paint jobs when the least expensive and most coarse stitching is used on the point where the tag is connected to the towel itself, so you shouldn’t worry too much about it.
Seams are also candidates for leaving behind droplets or staining. Because seams are typically made of a material other than microfiber, they can make the trailing edge of the cloth leave behind an unsightly moisture smear if you aren’t careful with the way that you hold the towel.
So, you can probably work around a microfiber towel which has a seam, provided that you hold it correctly and do not expose the seam to the vehicle while you are wiping — but the best microfiber towels don’t have seams, so use your best judgment when making a purchase.
Application-appropriate coarseness or fineness is also a big concern for microfiber towels because the towel which you reach for to do detail work will have a finer grain than the towel you reach for to remove large clumps of dirt or mud.
Fine-grained towels are also better for interiors and for applying cleaning chemicals evenly, but they tend to have lower durability and higher cost because they provide a brighter sheen with less mechanical scrubbing effort.Coarse towels are much better at removing grime than they are at buffing out a bright polish, though they are still up to the task if you’re willing to invest a little extra time.
Coarse towels are also more likely to apply cleaning chemicals unevenly, and they may track dirt particles around your interior if you decide to use them there. In a nutshell, if you are doing work on the inside of your car, a fine-grained towel with a high fiber count is probably the right choice.
But, you should also be reaching for that same fine-grained towel when it’s time to make the exterior of the car showroom-ready.
Many shops get away with using only coarse towels or only fine towels, but the general rule is that fine towels are expensive and inefficient to use for simple dirt removal.
Machine washability is a critical concern because you want to have the freedom to use a towel to the point of dirtiness without having to think about how much time it’ll take to clean. To be clear, nearly all microfiber towels claim to be machine wash-friendly.
But, in practice, many microfiber towels become tattered very quickly when they are thrown into the washing machine or the dryer. The reason is that the materials used in microfiber cloths are based on plasticized fabrics like nylon, which are intolerant to heat.
So, you should try to find a microfiber towel that has a minimum of nylon content and a maximum of machine washability and drying. Towels which advertise their ability to resist wear and tear caused by heat are typically a better choice than those which do not.
Liquid absorbency is a minor concern for microfiber cloths. The towel’s absorbency needs to be sufficient to dry the leftover liquids used in your cleaning and polishing routine. More importantly, it needs to become saturated uniformly throughout the towel.
Unlike with a rag, liquid is absorbed by microfiber towels more uniformly throughout the fabric, like a sponge. This is what makes them so effective at polishing up vehicle surfaces — and why they can remove streaking.
Most microfiber towels are not highly absorbent, but they’re absorbent enough to put the final touches onto your wash job. The coarser the fiber, the more likely the towel is to absorb a lot of liquid.
Sufficient size is another minor concern for microfiber towels. The larger the towel, the larger its maximum absorbency of liquid is, but other than that, size has no major upside because extra size simply makes the towel heavier and more difficult to use with one hand.
Is there an appropriate technique for using microfiber towels to clean vehicle exteriors?
Cleaning your vehicle with a microfiber towel is easy. To use your microfiber towel, you’ll need to:
- Apply cleaning products
- Wash with sponges or rags
- Wash off extra cleaning products with water
- Break out the microfiber towel and polish while removing the remaining liquids
Polishing may seem like it’s only one step, but it is the most important step of the process.
Everyone uses a different technique, but you will probably find that the best technique is to wipe with large horizontal strokes to grab excess liquid, squeeze out the liquid from the towel, and then go back with the towel using short circular strokes to buff out any residues which might cause staining.
Be sure to double check your work to make sure that you didn’t saturate the microfiber towel and leave new droplets on the area you finished cleaning.
Does color selection matter?
The color selection of your microfiber towel doesn’t matter much for consumer use aside from the aesthetic value. But, for professionals, color selection is a great feature which can help you to organize your towels according to their application.
For instance, you might have a cleaning schedule, which is color-coded. Your red towels could be washed on Monday, and your green towels on Friday. The real value of colored microfiber towels is in the ability to have colors signify the grain of the towel.
You could have yellow towels with fine grains for detail work, and red towels with coarse grains for grabbing the large dirt which may accumulate. This means that you’ll be able to use your towel resources with maximum efficiency, saving money in the long run.
Is thread count important?
Thread count is often touted by manufacturers of microfiber towels as one of the primary features. Thread count is supposedly the difference between a clean and beautiful polish and a streaky, subpar appearance.
But, thread count isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. The grain is not entirely synonymous with the number of threads because individual threads can be either coarse or fine. So, you may be able to buy a high-thread count microfiber towel, which is very coarse.
On the whole, the thread count is less important than the materials.
Is it safe to use microfiber towels?
Yes, microfiber towels are nearly always constructed with materials that are safe to use with your bare hands. Many people find that coarse-grained microfiber towels irritate their hands with excessive polishing work, however.
On the other hand, fine-grained microfiber towels do not have the same reputation. Both are equally safe, but the stress on your skin may dictate your choice if all other features are equal.
You can always use a pair of disposable gloves when you use your microfiber towel if you think that your hands are likely to become irritated. But, most people won’t need to worry about having issues if they keep their polishing activities to a moderate amount.
It’s only with excessive washing and polishing that most people will notice that their hands become irritated due to the friction from the cloth. You can also minimize the impact of the towel by keeping it saturated with liquid, which makes it less stressful for your skin.
Importantly, regardless of the grain, you shouldn’t be using your microfiber towels on living things. You should also avoid mutilating your microfiber towels with scissors or burning it with heat.
As safe as microfiber towels are, you should avoid inhaling fumes from microfiber towels if they happen to be burnt. Because microfiber towels are made with plasticized fabrics, they release the plasticizer chemicals when they are burned. These chemicals are hazardous to breathe in.
The same goes for inhaling shredded or recently cut microfiber towels. When microfiber towels are chopped or shredded, they may release tiny fibers into the air, especially if the cut is not perfectly aligned with the plane of the towel.
Inhaling these fibers is also bad for your health. Thankfully, these stray fibers aren’t created by anything other than cutting, so as long as you don’t cut or burn your towel, you won’t need to worry about any of the hazards which may be associated with microfiber towel usage.
What materials are the best for microfiber towels?
There’s no single best material for microfiber towels. There are a few common materials, including nylon, polyester, and composites.
Composites are typically marketed as the most advanced microfiber towels because of their advanced materials, but sometimes these materials aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Sometimes, a basic ny-poly blend can perform more effectively.
You should probably avoid standard cloth or cotton microfiber towels because they aren’t technically microfiber, so they don’t have the same beneficial cleaning properties.
Wiping Down Your Car
Now that you’re briefed on the microfiber towel market, you’re ready to purchase a set of towels and start wiping down your vehicles in style. Develop your own wax-on and wax-off technique, and your car will be clean and delightfully shiny.