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Towels!! Cotton vs Microfiber - pros and cons...

 
Old 04-04-2008, 01:01 AM
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bob53
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Default Towels!! Cotton vs Microfiber - pros and cons...

Hi everyone,

My nearly decade supply of Royal Velvet towels is now exhausted and I need new towels!!! In essence, my perspective on MF vs cotton is ~ 8 years out of date. That said, I have used the search function a bit as it is clear MF has gained more acceptance as it was considered junk back in the early 2000's. My intent is not to start a war or vendor bash. So the big question, what are the pros and cons of MF vs cotton towels? Sal Zaino still does not recommend MF due to the variability in production and feels the cotton is safer. However, I have found good cotton towels are hard to find. I have found many of the vendors of the MF towels (forum vendor), a hybrid towel DF, and 100% cotton (sold at lazaino, or at a local store).

- Has anyone done head-to-head comparisons between good MF and good cotton towels?

- Has anyone had a bad batch of MF towels (i.e. it led to some swirls) from a product that otherwise has a good reputation (you can PM me if you feel this is safer and less inflammatory)?

Just to give you an idea, I have very high paint standards (aside from OP, which is unavoidable on GM factory paint jobs). My last C5 had 24K miles (Navy Blue Metallic) and there were no swirls when I sold it as I have taught myself how to care for paint properly... Thus, unless you are as **** as me and use fluorescent lights to look for swirls, please do not claim MF does not swirl paint as normal lighting hides a lot of imperfections. Not saying it does, but it is easy to fool yourself.

Thanks for the input!
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:17 PM
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we guarantee our Cobra's and think you will be rather happy. The cd test is one indicator of the softness of a MF towel. (rub back and look for scratching) Most 100% cotton towels are not really all cotton, the design and borders are usually polyester and actually worse than MF towels. Only bad ones I have seen are those sold in bulk, as some seem to be a different quality than the others.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:37 PM
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Yes I'm as **** as the OP. I can tell you that a bulk pack of yellow MF towels from Costco has been exceptionally good. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.
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Old 04-04-2008, 11:48 PM
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I use the ones Costco sells and think they're excellent. Not to say someone else's brand might not be better, but I do think they would be hard to improve on.
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by carnut08 View Post
Yes I'm as **** as the OP. I can tell you that a bulk pack of yellow MF towels from Costco has been exceptionally good. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.
i just picked these up the other day and washed all 32 of them. they scratched a CD less than meguiars finest microfiber. not bad for $14!
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:27 AM
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I found that the Cobra MF towels, when washed with the Autogeek MF towel cleaner and hung to dry come out very very soft. My wife even commented about how soft they are.
I also have towels made from Egyptian cotton that my wife bought me from a very high end department store. They are very soft also and are made of 100% cotton but were pretty expensive.
If I were to do it all again, I would stick with the Cobra MF's and Autogeeks drying towels.
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:33 AM
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Microfiber vs 100% Cotton
Its scratch resistance has a lot to do with the way the fibres are processed and spun, there are too many factors to be able to say conclusively that natural fibres will not cause scratches and artificial fibres will. In my opinion, however, natural fibres are far less likely to scratch, flannel or cotton flannel is a very tight weave and it could scratch as it mats down easily, always try to stay with a terrycloth weave.

Regardless of material type or quality, a dirty micro fibre, or a 100% Cotton towel will scratch, Micro fibre has attractant properties, that is dirt, dust, and various other substances cling to it, which is one of the reasons that it works so well, but it is also a reason why you need to be extra careful when using towels on your paint

(100%) Cotton Towels:
Micro fibre by definition (very small; involving minute quantities or variations) is not a fabric; but a yarn, that’s spun into thread, which is then used to weave a terry fabric. These ultra-fine yarns (2X as fine as silk and 100X finer than a human hair) are made form various sources, they can be made from many different materials, such as Micro fiber (Polyester / Polyamide) or a natural material such as cellulose (100% cotton) a plant carbohydrate.

This detailing towel is made entirely of a blend of micro fibre cotton and pima cotton, 100% Cotton (50% Cotton Microfiber/50% Pima Cotton) Its scratch resistance has a lot to do with the way the fibres are processed and spun, there are too many factors to be able to say conclusively that natural fibres will not cause scratches and artificial fibres will. In my opinion, however, natural fibres are far less likely to scratch, flannel or cotton flannel is a very tight weave and it could scratch as it mats down easily, always try to stay with a terrycloth weave.

Theses cotton towels are exceptionally soft, super absorbent terrycloth. The fabric is woven from a blend of micro fibre cotton and Pima Cotton; no artificial fibres of any kind are used in the weaving or sewing of this product. But pay attention to the edge bindings as they can be a potential cause of surface scratches Quality towels edge bindings are sewn with cotton thread, not polyester. (For more information on cotton) -http://www.supima.com/faq/index.htm

The smaller the diameter of the yarn, the softer the fabric will feel, however this does not mean that its non-abrasive and will not cause scratches (this softness can also be chemically induced) The most important criteria for any fabric used on a vehicle surface is its quality and scratch resistance.
Natural cellulose can be spun with long staple cotton and then woven into 100% natural looped terrycloth or velour, were the loops are trimmed to produce a fine nap (ideal for glass cleaning). This is very soft, absorbent, and non-abrasive and will not cause scratching.

Once this type of fabric is washed two or three times, to remove any short fibres it will not leave a lint trail. The principal structural chemical in cotton, wood, and most other plants is actually cellulose consisting of many small molecules linked together (monomers) in a chain or lattice like structure; both linen and cotton are natural plant fibres. Quality towels edge bindings are sewn with cotton thread, not polyester.

Microfiber Towels:
The first material used to produce Microfiber was a combination of two DuPont fibres, polyester and polyamide, which is used as the core and polyester as the outer fibre, No matter how soft it feels polyester, being a plastic will scratch a paint surface on a microscopic level, which show up as towelling marks, which are longer scratches than the usual small swirl marks or micro marring, to check for polyester content see burn test

Keep in mind that the nature of this yarn is that it is an adsorbent; the reason polyester appears to absorb liquids is the many thousands of micro-fibres that collectively are encapsulating a lot of water. Once they become coated with detergent, polish or fabric softener, etc they loose there ability to be an absorbent.
The smaller the diameter of the yarn, the softer the fabric will feel, however this does not mean that its non-abrasive and will not cause scratches (this softness can also be chemically induced)

Most Microfiber that originates from Asia and the Far East is fabricated from polyester or nylon by-products. Because the label says Microfiber is no assurance that the material is safe to use or that it is non-abrasive.The most important criteria for any fabric used on a vehicle surface is its quality and scratch resistance.
Regardless of material type or quality, a dirty micro fibre, or a 100% Cotton towel will scratch, Micro fibre has attractant properties, that is dirt, dust, and various other substances cling to it, which is one of the reasons that it works so well, but it is also a reason why you need to be extra careful when using towels on your paint

To ensure your towels and buffing clothes provide long-term use, wash them frequently in a liquid soap (Micro Restore) in hot (120oF<) water, add a teaspoon per towel distilled white vinegar, the vinegar doesn't coat the fibres but instead works to eliminate detergent residue and finally a thorough cold rinse. Always wash micro fibre separately and only with other micro fibre fabrics

A ‘non-scientific test’ you could use to assimilate wither or not a towel will cause scratches, they are not at all scientific nor 100% accurate, they are only indicative of what the towel may do to your paint surface, but then which is preferable to scratch a CD or your paint surface? Ensure the towels have been washed before carrying out these ‘tests’. If the towel does scratch the CD’s surface that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will scratch the vehicles paint, a CD has a much softer surface than automobile paint so use caution, initially trying an inconspicuous area

CD Scratch Test- with a micro fibre cloth, using medium to heavy pressure rub the data surface of a CD. If no scratching is evident then it probably won’t scratch the vehicles paint surface, be aware that the bindings can also cause scratching. On first use of a towel use it on an inconspicuous area first.
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:39 AM
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TOGWT, very informative, thanks.
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:45 AM
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I am pretty particular about the appearance of the paint on my cars. As far as I am concerned the jury is still out on the comparison between a good microfiber vs a good 100% cotton towel. I am leaning towards microfiber but still use both. I use:

1. AutoGeeks microfiber and Adam's microfiber.
and
2. Ralph Lauren towels.

They both work great. The bottom line is surface preparation. A clean, grit free surface is the best insurance against swirl marks.
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Old 04-05-2008, 11:19 AM
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Last year at Carlisle I stopped by Sal Zaino's booth and
bought some Blue Microfibers, package of 2 for $12
no label, no name....plush,the softest, best polishing Micro
I have ever purchased. Still dont no what the brand is
but I'm going back this year for more !
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Old 04-05-2008, 05:43 PM
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I use both. Everything from various MF, waffle weaves, DF Concours towels to Royal Velvet towels. I've had any of the above add swirl marks to certain cars, but it depends on the paint. Royal velvet for drying and good brand MF for polishing has worked well for me.
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:05 PM
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Have some really good MF from Pakshak and from Cobra.
But I prefer 100% cotton towels (Ralph Lauren Classic II) - they are all that touches the Vette. And they last forever!
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Old 10-24-2008, 01:40 PM
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Default Egyptian cotton

As you say, egyptian cotton is determined by the thread count...the higher the thread count, the higher the quality and the more the softness.

Originally Posted by TOGWT View Post
Microfiber vs 100% Cotton
Its scratch resistance has a lot to do with the way the fibres are processed and spun, there are too many factors to be able to say conclusively that natural fibres will not cause scratches and artificial fibres will. In my opinion, however, natural fibres are far less likely to scratch, flannel or cotton flannel is a very tight weave and it could scratch as it mats down easily, always try to stay with a terrycloth weave.

Regardless of material type or quality, a dirty micro fibre, or a 100% egyptian cotton towels will scratch, Micro fibre has attractant properties, that is dirt, dust, and various other substances cling to it, which is one of the reasons that it works so well, but it is also a reason why you need to be extra careful when using towels on your paint

(100%) egyptian cotton towels :
Micro fibre by definition (very small; involving minute quantities or variations) is not a fabric; but a yarn, that’s spun into thread, which is then used to weave a terry fabric. These ultra-fine yarns (2X as fine as silk and 100X finer than a human hair) are made form various sources, they can be made from many different materials, such as Micro fiber (Polyester / Polyamide) or a natural material such as cellulose (100% cotton) a plant carbohydrate.

This detailing towel is made entirely of a blend of micro fibre cotton and pima cotton, 100% egyptian cotton (50% Cotton Microfiber/50% Pima Cotton) Its scratch resistance has a lot to do with the way the fibres are processed and spun, there are too many factors to be able to say conclusively that natural fibres will not cause scratches and artificial fibres will. In my opinion, however, natural fibres are far less likely to scratch, flannel or cotton flannel is a very tight weave and it could scratch as it mats down easily, always try to stay with a terrycloth weave.

Theses egyptian cotton towels are exceptionally soft, super absorbent terrycloth. The fabric is woven from a blend of micro fibre cotton and Pima Cotton; no artificial fibres of any kind are used in the weaving or sewing of this product. But pay attention to the edge bindings as they can be a potential cause of surface scratches Quality towels edge bindings are sewn with cotton thread, not polyester. (For more information on cotton) -http://www.supima.com/faq/index.htm

The smaller the diameter of the yarn, the softer the fabric will feel, however this does not mean that its non-abrasive and will not cause scratches (this softness can also be chemically induced) The most important criteria for any fabric used on a vehicle surface is its quality and scratch resistance.
Natural cellulose can be spun with long staple cotton and then woven into 100% natural looped terrycloth or velour, were the loops are trimmed to produce a fine nap (ideal for glass cleaning). This is very soft, absorbent, and non-abrasive and will not cause scratching.

Once this type of fabric is washed two or three times, to remove any short fibres it will not leave a lint trail. The principal structural chemical in cotton, wood, and most other plants is actually cellulose consisting of many small molecules linked together (monomers) in a chain or lattice like structure; both linen and cotton are natural plant fibres. Quality towels edge bindings are sewn with cotton thread, not polyester.

Microfiber Towels:
The first material used to produce Microfiber was a combination of two DuPont fibres, polyester and polyamide, which is used as the core and polyester as the outer fibre, No matter how soft it feels polyester, being a plastic will scratch a paint surface on a microscopic level, which show up as towelling marks, which are longer scratches than the usual small swirl marks or micro marring, to check for polyester content see burn test

Keep in mind that the nature of this yarn is that it is an adsorbent; the reason polyester appears to absorb liquids is the many thousands of micro-fibres that collectively are encapsulating a lot of water. Once they become coated with detergent, polish or fabric softener, etc they loose there ability to be an absorbent.
The smaller the diameter of the yarn, the softer the fabric will feel, however this does not mean that its non-abrasive and will not cause scratches (this softness can also be chemically induced)

Most Microfiber that originates from Asia and the Far East is fabricated from polyester or nylon by-products. Because the label says Microfiber is no assurance that the material is safe to use or that it is non-abrasive.The most important criteria for any fabric used on a vehicle surface is its quality and scratch resistance.
Regardless of material type or quality, a dirty micro fibre, or a 100% Cotton towel will scratch, Micro fibre has attractant properties, that is dirt, dust, and various other substances cling to it, which is one of the reasons that it works so well, but it is also a reason why you need to be extra careful when using towels on your paint

To ensure your towels and buffing clothes provide long-term use, wash them frequently in a liquid soap (Micro Restore) in hot (120oF<) water, add a teaspoon per towel distilled white vinegar, the vinegar doesn't coat the fibres but instead works to eliminate detergent residue and finally a thorough cold rinse. Always wash micro fibre separately and only with other micro fibre fabrics

A ‘non-scientific test’ you could use to assimilate wither or not a towel will cause scratches, they are not at all scientific nor 100% accurate, they are only indicative of what the towel may do to your paint surface, but then which is preferable to scratch a CD or your paint surface? Ensure the towels have been washed before carrying out these ‘tests’. If the towel does scratch the CD’s surface that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will scratch the vehicles paint, a CD has a much softer surface than automobile paint so use caution, initially trying an inconspicuous area

CD Scratch Test- with a micro fibre cloth, using medium to heavy pressure rub the data surface of a CD. If no scratching is evident then it probably won’t scratch the vehicles paint surface, be aware that the bindings can also cause scratching. On first use of a towel use it on an inconspicuous area first.
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Old 10-24-2008, 04:42 PM
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Google ChemicalGuys and check out their "ELITE ULTRA-PLUSH SUPER PREMIUM MICROBIFER MICRO-BANDED 8.75mm THICK TOWEL16" x16"".
I buy them by the dozen and they come out to be less than a buck apiece that way. They are very soft and I can't tell them apart from the seemingly identical ones that Adams sells for more money.
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Old 10-25-2008, 11:36 AM
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Even after all of these years I'm still not sold on microfiber (like Sal Zaino). I still hear and see too many "horror stories" with their use. Swirl marks are the primary reason but also cotton is more tolerant should they ever get contaminated.

My suppliers of choice for cotton blends are WestPoint-Stevens (a.k.a. Martex) Supima cotton (http://martex.com/page/view/id/246) or DF Concours Towels (http://www.dftowel.com/).
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