Lets talk towels! Wait, did you think they were all the same?
Microfiber towels differ in several ways. The biggest difference between towels is their “GSM” rating. “GSM” stands for Grams per Square Meter. So if a towel is a “350GSM” towel, that means that if you laid out one square meter of material, there would be 350 grams of microfiber. Basically, the higher the number, the fluffier the towel…. BASICALLY.
Also some towels are “endless” or “edgeless” and really all this means is that the towel is sewed on the inside so there is no outer seam. I’ve never had a regular towel scratch a car, but if all else was created equal, I’d go for the edgeless towels.
Now, many towels are dual sided, meaning one side is fluffier or taller piled than the other, these towels will typically only use one GSM rating. Don’t worry if a towels GSM rating isn’t listed, It doesn’t really matter much to the average person. Also, some towels are “Waffle Weave” these towels still have a GSM rating however, the fibers are woven very tight, these towels were introduced as “glass towels” because they work extremely well at cleaning and drying glass windows, which leads me to my next point.
“The fluffier the better, right?” Well, that really depends on what you are using the towel for. I personally have different weight towels (and a color coded system) because each towel in my inventory serves a different purpose.
These are my “go to” paint towels. I use green for all of my paint towels because dirt sticks out really well so I can see when I need to switch to a clean side and easily tell how dirty a vehicle really is. They are dual sided, the fluffier side works really well at dry dusting. Let’s say you’ve washed your car and dried it and now you are wanting to apply a wax or sealant but there is a little bit of dust on the paint surface. Use the fluffy side of this towel (dry) with no pressure and the long fibers simply grab the debris and pull it into the towel. This will prevent scratches from applying wax/sealant on a dusty paint surface.
Now let’s say that wax or polish you have applied has cured and is ready to be “buffed off” you want to use that same soft, fluffy side, right? Well, you can, and this will depend a lot on what products you are using and the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) but typically the tighter side of this towel works better at removing waxes and polishes. Neither side will scratch your paint surface if they are clean and you are not using excessive pressure. Bottom line, I love the dual sided towels for their versatility.
Here are the towels I use for cleaning interiors. Eventually, I will switch all my towels to Autofiber brand (no, I’m not sponsored, they just make awesome towels) These towels work really well because their tight weave helps remove dirt and grime from plastic interior panels and also work well at removing stains from fabric. I use yellow to indicate that these are interior towels, these towels never touch paint, wheels/tires or any thing outside the car so that no cross contamination can occur. We’ll talk more about this further down when we discuss “wheel towels”
Now if you read the hype from the manufacturer, you will think this towel was the same one baby Jesus was wrapped in, after all, the 3 pack is nearly double the cost of the other 3 packs I have listed here, it must be better right?
Again, that depends on what you want to do. I bought a pack of these to try out (Thank God I was skeptical, all my other towels I bought multiple 3 packs from the start) and I was definitely disappointed. I learned 3 major lessons when I used these towels.
1: The longer the pile, the worse it is at removing waxes and polishes. The fibers are just too “limp” if you will, to remove stuff from the paint surface.
2: They leave micro fibers everywhere. Not sure if it is just this brand of towel or if this is a trait of all super fluffy microfiber towels (never had this issue with the Autofiber towels I’ve used but haven’t used any this plush yet) but after I removed the wax with this towel, I noticed the car looked dusty, upon closer investigation, it was little fibers left behind from these towels.
3: Most product companies invest heavily in marketing to make you THINK their stuff is the absolute best on the planet. They just want your money.
Bottom line, these are awesome at dusting off your dash and that’s about it. Sometimes I leave one in my console just for this reason. Not worth buying in my opinion.
Okay now let’s talk about wheel towels, and the importance of color coding your towels. So I use black towels exclusively for wheels and tires. Wheels and tires get lots of brake dust on them and now mater how well you clean your wheels and tires, when you dry them, you are bound to pick up a little bit of left behind brake dust, especially when you consider how dirty the average daily driven car is. Brake pads are usually made out of metals and ceramic which are very hard materials, if you were to use a towel to dry a wheel and then move on to drying paint, you would definitely cause some “scratches” probably not noticeable if you just did it once or twice, but for me, its not worth the risk of creating more work for myself or a lower quality finish for my clients. I just have separate towels, they get washed separately, any brake dust that doesn’t get released and washed away in the washer will stay on those towels and off of any paint. You may think that the washer will remove all of the dirt and grime from your towels, and if you regularly maintain your vehicle, that’s probably true but trust me, that is not always the case. Ive thrown away more than a few towels that basically got so nasty they just weren’t even worth putting in the washer.
I also keep a handful of silver towels for the extremely rare occasion I get to work on something with stainless or chrome on it for the same reasons as mentioned above, to eliminate metal particles from getting on paint towels.
Waffle Weave towels. I couldn’t find a link to the exact ones I use, but don’t over think it. Find a size you like and try them out. I use these for drying the car and cleaning windows. I find that the bigger they are the harder they are to work with but they will also absorb more water before needing to be wrung out. I like 16”x16” towels but 16”x24” work well for me too. Also, use caution around your wiper blades and trim pieces, some of the cheaper made towels will snag and tear and then its just a matter of time before they are trash.
Big drying towels. No link for these ones either but think of a your basic 350-400 gsm towel only sized in 24”x36” or more. I have a couple of these and pretty much never use them. If you like using the traditional wash method and need to dry a lot of car in a little time, these will fit the bill.
I hope this gives you a little more insight on which types of towels will work best for you. I’ve spent a ton of money on towels over the years so I hope you can avoid some of the lessons I had to learn.
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