Ever wondered how to detail your detailing towels? Here’s how mine do the washing machine waltz.
Because microfibres are designed to grab hold of dirt it’s important they’re properly cleaned in between use to prevent cross contamination and damage being inflicted between towel and car. Being mobile, I stuff my used towels into a robust climbing rope bag throughout the working day and week to then conveniently carry home to be emptied.
While you can hand wash towels, the machine is really the way to go as you’ll get a far better quality clean and can of course get on with other things while they’re being seen to but before bunging them all into the drum, flicking the switch and naffing off, there’s a couple of things you should consider.
First and foremost if you wash a lot of microfibres it might be worth investing in a second ‘beater’ machine like this one to keep dirty towels away from your prized pink budgie smugglers. Using the same machine for both if you have no choice okay but you should try and keep cross contamination between day to day laundry and detailing towels to a minimum.
It’s good practice to separate your towels prior to washing with the aim of treating each to a separate cycle again to prevent cross contamination but this time between the various types of towel.
While you can get away with cleaning them altogether if they’re not too dirty, if you were to put a nice fluffy buffing towel in with a multi-purpose one that had been used to clean an engine bay for example, you’d risk contaminating the plush paintwork towels with oil or gritty dirt particles and likewise, if you put wax residue caked buffing towels in with say, a drying towel, you’d likely transfer some of that residue over to its fibres and compromise its absorbency.
I generally separate drying towels, general purpose towels and buffing towels and bung the LEAST dirty ones in first so that there’s less likelihood of stray scratchy particles being caught up in the relatively clean, plush towels than if I put the filthy ones in first.
Once locked and loaded you then need to consider what you’re going to clean your towels with. Powders are generally a no-go as undissolved granules can potentially get caught up in the fibres and cause issues later down the line, so a liquid detergent is your best bet and preferably a sensitive, non-bio one free from any conditioners as these can coat the towels and render them pretty useless for future detailing duties.
There’s also plenty of dedicated microfibre detergents available now so if you’re unsure or just don’t fancy being spotted loitering around soap isle of the supermarket then a detailing-specific wash product like this will help ensure a safe and thorough clean.
While all washing machines differ, I generally stick with a quick wash combined with an extra rinse to help save some time especially when when tending to multiple loads but by all means place yours on a more thorough cycle if you have particularly heavily soiled towels or would just prefer they were given a more exhaustive seeing to.
In terms of temperature, I try not to stray beyond forty degrees celsius if possible as the towel’s tiny fibres are susceptible to damage from heat. You can crank it up a notch or two if they’re filthy but you should ideally try and avoid particularly hot washes where possible.
Depending on the size of the load and how dirty your towels are, 30-60 millilitres of detergent should suffice but to be honest I’ve always just stood by the ‘few healthy glugs’ rule.
Detergent and settings sorted it’s then simply a case of case of turning your machine on (which if you’re not self-domesticated like me might mean consulting with the missus) then cracking on with something notably more manly while your fancy coloured detailing towels do the washing machine waltz.
If I have multiple loads to get through, once the first has finished I’ll remove that, dump the next dirtiest in (which for me is usually drying towels) and repeat the process however for the sake of the video I’d held off here until they were all washed before moving on.
While you can tumble dry your towels the problem again is heat (and even more so than with a hot wet wash) so I’ve alway’s preferred to air dry my towels by hanging them on a clothes airer which is then left somewhere warm like beside a boiler, next to a sunny window in the summer, or in front of or even draped over a warm radiator.
If you do want to run them through a dryer to save time that’s understandable but just be sure you keep the heat to a minimum. I’d also advise against hanging them outdoors to dry as you don’t know what airborne contaminants they could come into contact with while they’re flapping away on the line so it’s best to eliminate the possibility of external contamination from the equation by keeping them indoors.
Once my towels have reached bone-dry status I’ll briefly check them over for any obvious stray bits of debris before folding and stashing them away. While the machine wash will remove the majority of dirt it wont pull absolutely everything out from the towels fibres so it makes sense to give them a quick once over afterwards.
For more plush or expensive towels you can lightly work them over with an appropriate soft brush or as I’ve been known to do, even vac them off once in a while to remove any deeper debris and rejuvenate the fibres. Now I’m obviously not advising you do this to all of your towels every time you wash them as it can be quite the faff but it does sometimes make sense to do instead of either standing there picking bits out one by one or prematurely binning them.
If you can’t be bothered picking bits out by hand or vacuuming your towels like a crazy person, which is completely understandable, then at the very least you should give then a damn good shake to help to release any loose bits and bobs prior to putting them away.
Lastly then, if some of your towels are still stained or contaminated after being machine washed then you need to make the executive decision of wether to downgrade them for ‘lesser’ tasks like wheels, tyres and shuts or bin them altogether to prevent any contamination being transferred back onto a car. Although they do last a while when appropriately cared for they’re still essentially disposable items and it’s simply better to be safe than sorry in this respect.
And that’s pretty much it. So to quickly recap, the basic drill is to ideally machine wash your towels using a non-bio, conditioner-free liquid detergent at about 40 degrees after every use, preferably air dry them indoors to keep their fibres undamaged by exposure to excessive heat, and check them over periodically for stray bits of debris or at the very least give them a good shake prior to putting them away.
I’m not necessarily saying this is the ‘best’ or ‘the only’ way to tend to your microfibres, it’s just what’s works for me but I rarely pull a towel out of the machine that’s irreversibly damaged so I’m happy to share it with you. Obviously you can adjust it slightly to suit your needs but if you stick to the general rules your towels will thank you for it with continued absorbency and buff-ability!