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Old 20-06-2017, 07:12 PM   #1
Mike Phillips
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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



Last edited by Mike Phillips; 29-08-2017 at 01:30 PM.
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