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  1. #1
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars







    I have a saying, goes like this...


    The little things are the big things


    Most detailers I know like the paint polishing aspect of car detailing. Like me, they love to take a diamond in the rough and turn it into a glistening gemstone. It's the challenge that attracts us and sense of accomplishment to save someone else's toy by giving it the quality finish it deserves. There's not much excitement when it comes to cleaning carpets or door jambs.

    When most people think of machine polishing paint, the first things that come to mind are,

    The tool - This would be your choice of polisher, be it a Makita, RUPES, FLEX, Griot's, Meguiar's, Porter Cable, etc.

    The brand for compounds and polishes - some guys are loyal to Meguiar's, some guys are loyal to Menzerna etc.

    The buffing pads - Lake Country, Buff & Shine, Meguiar's, Griot's and RUPES all make great pads


    And while the above are VERY important to the success of a proper paint correction, it is the lowly microfiber towel that is the big thing. Think about it... what touches the paint the most? The polisher never touches the paint, it spins a pad against the paint but never actually touches the paint. The compounds and polishes touch the paint of course as do the pads... but after each step and even before you fire up your polisher, it is the microfiber towel that is all-present, always touching the paint.

    Microfiber towels are used to,

    1. Wash cars for example when using rinseless and waterless washes
    2. Wipe of clay lube after claying the paint
    3. Wipe off clay lube after using any clay replacement like a Nanoksin towel
    4. Wipe off compound residue
    5. Wipe off polish residue
    6. Wipe of car waxes and synthetic sealants
    7. Wipe off paint strippers when chemically stripping the paint for a coating
    8. Giving the paint a final buff after applying a coating
    9. Spreading around and wiping off a spray detailer
    10. Spreading around and wiping off a spray wax or spray sealant
    11. Spreading around and wiping off a coating detailer or coating booster




    And the above list is just paint-related job duties. The above list doesn't include CAREFFULLY wiping off any product applied to matte paint or matte graphics and we all know that if you put a scratch into a matte surface that's a big no-no.

    Gentle to scratch-sensitive paints
    Microfiber towels are GREAT because by miniaturizing the nylon and polyester fibers, these fibers that in a large size could scratch the paint now become very gentle to the paint. This is extremely important because modern clearcoats paints, (and even single stage paints), are scratch-sensitive, this means they scratch easily. Because modern clearcoats tend to be harder than their older cousins single stage paints before the 1980s, the hardness factor makes them more difficult and time consuming to remove scratches out of so not putting scratches into them is vitally important.


    Absorb and Adsorb
    Microfiber towels both absorb and adsorb liquids and residues onto themselves.

    aBsorb= Means to wick to the inside the fiber.

    aDsorb = Means to wick onto the outside of the fiber


    Eco-friendly - great value
    Can be washed and dried and used over and over again...


    The down side of microfiber towels
    The unique feature that makes microfiber towels gentle to paint is also their Achilles heel, that is the plush soft nap made from miniaturized strands of fibers are like traps for foreign debris and abrasive particles like dirt, dried plant leaves, sticks, rocks, brake dust, etc.


    Abrasive particulates
    When foreign debris lands on a microfiber towel it can bury into the nap and lodge itself firmly. If the foreign debris, often abrasive in form is rubbed against the paint - the risk is high that it's going to scratch the paint. If you've already compounded and polished a car's finish and then accidently scratch the paint while wiping off a coat of wax - all your hard work will be undone. This is why it's important to not only have a method of storing both clean towels but also storing dirty towels until they go through the washing and drying process.



    2 methods to inspect your towels
    There are two ways to inspect your towels.

    Visually - Look at the towel surface and if you see any type of abrasive particle or foreign substance, then pick it out.

    Physically - Feel the face of both sides of the towel and if you feel something sharp, pointy or hard, then pick it out.



    My friend Robert DiTerlizzi once showed me how he inspects towels before use and I though to myself, this is important, just as important as choosing the right compound or polish for the job. After he shared his practice of inspecting towels before using them I incorporated this practice into my own detailing system and also shared it with the online world with an article and also with the masses on our TV show as well as in all my detailing classes.


    The Mike Phillips Twist
    The only thing I changed about inspecting my towels before use is instead of inspecting towels on the fly, that is inspecting my towels as I use them, instead I pre-inspect them before starting the project or after they come out of the dryer.

    While it takes a small chunk of time to pre-inspect our towels before staring the detailing project it saves time overall as your towels, because they are all pre-inspected, are ready to go as you need them enabling you to work faster through all the various steps of the process.


    If you don't inspect your towels, I strongly recommend making this a new "best practice" for all your detailing projects. Wiping down a car with just a single contaminated towel is a time-killer plus it will require to compound and remove more paint in order to remove the scratch or scratches.

    If you don't have a system in place for storing towels when not in use and after use, then get one. And after washing and drying your towels, take a small chunk of time to inspect them and then fold them before storing them in a clean, dirt and dust free location to keep them clean until needed.


    Inspecting microfiber towels as they come out of the dry and before a detailing project




    Clean towels on a clean workbench ready for Inspection






    Visually look at the towels and look for abrasive particles or debris





    If particles are discovered, pick them out...





    Don't skip the edges of a microfiber towel...





    If you can't pick the particle or debris out with your fingers then try to cut it out using some scissors






    Next feel the towels and use your sense of touch to feel for abrasive particles or debris and if discovered, pick it out...





    Pre-inspected towels - ready to be used or stored in a clean location for future use.





    Culls - These towels did not pass inspection and will be relegated to non-paint polishing uses





    When washing your microfiber towels, always use a dedicated microfiber towel clean to preserve the performance of the microfiber.





    Get a laundry sorter and storage bin with a lid to store dirty towels until you're ready to wash and dry the towels.





    This one has chambers to help keep your towels separated so you can wash and dry similar towels together.





    Remember...

    The little things are the big things



    All you have to do is accidently scratch paint one time with a contaminated microfiber towel for that statement to ring true and change how you treat your microfiber towels.


    On Autogeek.com


    BLACKFIRE Microfiber Cleaner & Restorer - 1 gallon

    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  3. #2
    Senior Member PouncingPanzer's Avatar
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    Re: How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who squints their eyes at their towels and picks everything out. Time consuming, gives me a headache sometimes, but not a time goes by where I don't find a gremlin or two even right out of the wash.

    Good write up.
    Save the stick shift! and ​Stay shiny my friends!

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  5. #3
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    Quote Originally Posted by PouncingPanzer View Post

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who squints their eyes at their towels and picks everything out.

    Time consuming, gives me a headache sometimes, but not a time goes by where I don't find a gremlin or two even right out of the wash.

    Inspecting your towels before use or after they come out of the washer and dryer is just as important as any other process you do to the paint.

    When I teach my classes I show and explain this multiple times over the course of the class to ingrain the practice into the brain of my students. It has to become a habit. Like breathing.



    Quote Originally Posted by PouncingPanzer View Post

    Good write up.

    Thanks. Articles like this I always say

    I pulled this one right out of thin air



    The reason why is I wasn't in the garage to day to write this article or make this video. I was in the garage today to buff out the 2012 Yellow Jacket you see in the video. As a normal coruse of getting prepped for machine buffing I was inspecting my towels and I though,


    "You know, I always want to capture this in a short, simple video because the content is important"


    So I asked Elliot our social media guru to come out and take a video using his iPhone, which he did. Just kind of an on-the-fly type thing that if I don't do it right then and there it never gets done.


    I posted this to DetailWorld and my FB page and the D101 FB page and so far good comments...


    Thanks for taking the time to chime in...



    Mike Phillips
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  6. #4
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    ***Bump***


    Can't stress enough how important this simple job is.


    You can be the best detailer in the world but if you compound or polish paint to perfect and then wipe the paint with a microfiber towel that has one single abrasive particle lodged into the weave you will scratch the paint and UNDO all your hard work.

    Do like the method I share above, get your towels out and inspect them all at once. Then you can work faster as you don't need to inspect each towel before wiping.

    Once you do this a few times it will become a habit and you will be thankful and you will also enjoy the feeling of confidence you get each time you go to wipe your car's paint.

    So important.


    Share with a friend too...


    Mike Phillips
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  7. #5
    Senior Member LEDetailing's Avatar
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    Re: How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    Great advice. You shared this tip during a video a while back and it was such an easy thing to do. I go as far as putting my higher quality towels in ziplock bags. I then store them in a dedicated microfiber only clear tote.

    I just bought the new orange super plush wash mitt from Autogeek. One benefit of the long microfiber strands is the ability to cut out debris, especially tar that oftentimes gets stuck in my mitt. This mitt is my new favorite. You bet I inspect the mitt after laundering it

    Last year my wife bought a food saver vacuum sealer. I was folding my microfibers and placed some super plush microfibers into a large bag. It was a total Autogeek moment watching the two or three towels shrink to a wrinkled, thin, package. Not practical for normal storage but for moving or winter storage it would be more appropriate. I did not see any negative impact on the towels that I vacuum sealed.

  8. #6
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    Re: How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    I find blue microfiber towels lint more than any other color over time.

  9. #7
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    This is probably the most important or at least the most valuable article I've written for 2017


    Especially when you consider it takes HOURS to correct and polish a car to perfection and only seconds to undo all your hard work with a single abrasive particle lodged into the nap of a microfiber towel.


    Think about it...


    Mike Phillips
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  11. #8
    Senior Member Misterpaul's Avatar
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    Re: How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    On paint I only use light colored MF towels. When they come out of the dryer I put on a pair of reading glasses and turn on all the lights in the room, even if drapes are open on a sunny day then get to inspecting my towels.

    After an extended session in my garage several years ago I discovered one of my clean grey MF towels had instilled scratches into freshly perfected paint. Front fascia of the G8 had to be redone. I found the culprit using my fingers and gently running them over the towels. I pulled a small sliver of plastic about 1.5 mm out of the towel.
    2017 Phantom Black Metallic Chevy SS, automatic, skylight, plus unused wheel in the boot.

  12. #9
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    Quote Originally Posted by Misterpaul View Post

    After an extended session in my garage several years ago I discovered one of my clean grey MF towels had instilled scratches into freshly perfected paint. Front fascia of the G8 had to be redone.

    I found the culprit using my fingers and gently running them over the towels.


    I pulled a small sliver of plastic about 1.5 mm out of the towel.

    Ouch! Not fun to scratch fresh paint $$$


    Like I say...

    The little things are the big things


    Mike Phillips
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  13. #10
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How, why & when to inspect your microfiber towels when detailing cars

    Quote Originally Posted by idriveblackcars View Post

    I find blue microfiber towels lint more than any other color over time.

    I find myself using more and more flat weave towels versus anything that is "fluffy".

    Fluffy just increases risk of contamination. Flat weave is less prone to having any type of contaminant bury into the fluffy fibers.


    Mike Phillips
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