How to Clean Microfiber Towels

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Are you taking care of your MicroFiber towels? Learn how to now!

Microfiber towels are great for general cleaning and automotive detailing. Have you noticed your microfiber towels losing their absorbency and plushness after every wash? This only means one thing: you are cleaning your microfiber towels the WRONG way! So today we’re gonna talk about how to clean microfiber towels

Such is the irony of the topic on how to clean microfiber towels. We all know nothing comes close to microfiber in the world of auto detailing. Using the right type of microfiber towels, applicators, and wash mitts is the easiest way to prevent scratches and swirl marks on delicate automotive paint.

But how hard is it to clean microfiber towels?

It’s not that hard if you know the right techniques.

microfiber towel maintenance


Hey, Vince here. Before the proliferation of microfiber towels in the commercial arena, I used to wax and polish my vehicle using my old and trusted terry cloth towel and synthetic chamois.

Don’t get me wrong. I still use terry cloth to clean the interior, but I switched to microfiber towels to clean the exterior and interior of my ride. If you still don’t any of these wonder towels, check out our guide to choosing the best microfiber towels for car detailing

Best Microfiber Towels

But if you want your microfiber towels to last, you need to clean them properly. If you do this right, you can effectively rid your microfiber towels of dirt, wax, polish residue, and stains without affecting the absorbency, plushness, and static properties of the material.

Why is microfiber better than terry cotton?

Microfiber is highly absorbent and can hold up to seven times its weight in water. Microfiber is also much more absorbent than terry cloth and provides a lint-free cleaning experience. Perhaps the only drawback with microfiber is the higher cost. It is more expensive than cotton but is more absorbent and will last longer when cared for properly.

On the other hand, terry cloth or cotton is also absorbent but it has a tendency to push dirt rather than pick it up from the surface. Terry cloth is also manufactured using organic materials which basically means it is prone to harbor bacteria or foul odors. Worst of all, terry cloth or cotton towels will leave a ton of lint on the surface.

interior car detailing with microfiber towel


The Golden Rules of Microfiber Cleaning

Microfiber is engineered to be durable and lint-free. I have a microfiber drying towel that lasted for a year before the fibers began to break apart. But in order to make the most of the cleaning abilities of your microfiber towels, you need to remember the golden rules of microfiber cleaning:

  1. Do NOT use laundry detergent, specifically powdered laundry soap. Common laundry detergent is great for clothes or denim. However, they are not ideal for cleaning microfiber.
  2. Do NOT use heat. Cold water is not enough to break down wax and polish residue inside the strands of microfiber, but excess heat can burn our or destroy the fibers altogether. Using warm water is the best way to clean microfiber towels.
  3. Do NOT use fabric softener. Downy, Snuggle, and Gain is great for ordinary pieces of clothing but they are not-so-great for microfiber cloth. Fabric softeners will only introduce a host of residue to the delicate fibers in your cloth.
clean microfiber in wash machin
Image creds: Eric – Check out their work on Flickr 🙂

Which is best for microfiber towels? Hand wash or machine wash?

You can achieve great results on both as long as you follow the golden rules of cleaning microfiber: NO heat, NO laundry detergent, and NO fabric softeners!

In fact, the best way to clean microfiber towels is to wash by hand using warm water. However, this doesn’t apply to microfiber towels that are soaked in wax, dirt, or polish. Water alone is not enough to break down or dissolve the residue trapped inside the fibers of the cloth.

It doesn’t matter if you are planning to clean your microfiber cloth by hand or machine. But you need to use the right cleaning materials to avoid premature deterioration of the cloth.

How to Clean Microfiber Towels

If you’re like me and prefer videos, Ammo NYC did an excellent “How To” guide that we suggest watching. He’s a good guy!

The first thing to remember is to segregate the towels from the applicator pads. It is a good idea to separate extremely dirty or soaked towels and wash them in separate loads.

Step 1: You can wash by hand or machine. Set the washer to a WARM water setting. Cold water will make it more difficult to remove deep-seated grease and oil.

Step 2: Use microfiber detergent such as the Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Cleaner or the Chemical Guys Microfiber Wash Detergent. Using the proper cleaner is the single best way to preserve the integrity of your microfiber towels and applicator pads.

You need microfiber cleaners if you are working with extremely soaked or overly dirty towels. Plain water is not powerful enough to remove oil and grease on the fabric. Microfiber cleaners are formulated with a higher number of emulsifiers and surfactants to easily dissolve dirt and oils for faster and safer cleaning.

Step 3: Rinse the towels properly. If your washing machine is equipped with an extra rinse cycle, this is all for the better. If you prefer hand washing, rinse the towels two or three times using clean water. Proper rinsing will ensure that all traces of dirt and cleaner are removed from the fibers in the cloth.

Step 4: Microfiber towels should be hanged and air dried. You can also tumble dry the towel but make sure to utilize the lowest setting.

How to Remove Heavy Stains on Microfiber Cloth

Chemical Guys Professional Grade Premium Microfiber Towel
Check out our ChemicalGuys microfiber towel review

If your microfiber towel is soaked with grease, tar, or oil stains, you will need to pre-treat the cloth before washing.


Step 1: Grab a small bucket and fill halfway with clean water. Add 2 to 3 capfuls of microfiber cleaner to create a soaking solution.

Step 2: Toss dirty towels inside the bucket and allow to soak for 15 to 20 minutes. This method will break down all the nasty residue in the microfiber cloth prior to washing.

Step 3: If the towel is extremely dirty, a gentle hand rub will help loosen thick dirt and oil.

Step 4: Fill the washing machine with water and add the necessary amount of microfiber cleaner inside the tub. Simply toss the towels inside the washer and clean using the normal cycle.

Step 5: Rinse the towels properly. At this point, you can air dry or spin dry the towels before storage.

heinz white vinegar
White vinegar is a great natural cleaner!

How to Clean Lightly Soiled Microfiber Cloth (with Vinegar)

Want to know the proper way on how to clean lightly soiled microfiber cloth? All you need is clean water and a teaspoon or two of white vinegar. No need to use soap!

Step 1: Fill a small wash basin with clean and warm water.

Step 2: Add a teaspoon of white vinegar and mix thoroughly.

Stew 3: Place one or two towels in the wash basin and hand wash until clean.

Step 4: Rinse the towels thoroughly.

Step 5: Hang the towels to dry and you’re all set!

Microfiber Storage and Cleaning Tips

Washing and cleaning is only a small part of the story. Proper storage is also crucial.

  • Make sure the microfiber towels are thoroughly dry before prepping for storage. This also holds true for microfiber wash mitts or applicator pads with foam backings. This will prevent mold or mildew from contaminating the clean towels.
  • You can store clean microfiber towels inside a covered plastic storage box. This will keep dust and dirt away from the towels. Fold each towel separately and stack each inside the storage box for future use.
  • Microfiber towels should be washed immediately after each use. Since the fabric is able to absorb a great deal of dirt and contaminants, it is not advisable to use a dirty towel repeatedly.
  • Do NOT iron your microfiber towels. Remember the golden rules stated above? Excess heat will only damage the delicate fibers in the cloth.
  • Do not mix cotton towels or terry cloth with microfiber. Avoid washing the two fabrics in the same load to prevent contamination. It is also advisable to store cotton and microfiber towels separately.
  • If you accidentally dropped the towel while waxing or polishing your car, discard the towel and grab a fresh one before you proceed. You will thank yourself later!


Looking for a great microfiber towel? 

Meguiar’s Supreme Shine Microfiber

I love the Meguiar’s Supreme Shine – check out the review here

How long does a microfiber towel last?

If you clean your microfiber towels properly using the methods listed above, you can expect the fabric to last for more than a year or two depending on the quality of the towel.

But nothing lasts forever, right? Frequent usage, improper cleaning, and poor storage will wear out the fibers in the cloth. This is the reason why microfiber towels are usually sold in packs. If a particular towel wears out, you should replace the towel immediately to prevent scratches and swirl marks.

The telltale signs of worn out microfiber towels are reduced absorbency, smearing, visible damage to the seams and fibers, and the presence of lint. If you notice one or all of these signs, it is time to replace the towel.


When it comes to preventing scratches and swirl marks on automotive paint, nothing comes close to the cleaning and polishing power of microfiber. If you clean your microfiber towels properly, they will do a better job at cleaning and caring for your precious ride.


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