What is a Microfibre?
The term microfibre is used to describe any fibre with a thickness below 1.0 denier. The unit of measurement denier is used to measure single strands of yarn weight over 9000 metres. For example, a single strand of silk weighs 1 gram per 9000 meters giving silk a measurement of 1.0 denier.
What is a microfibre made from?
Microfibre used in the car care industry is made from a blend of polyester and polyamide, such as nylon. The mix of these two materials is important to the performance of the microfibre. The polyester serves to absorb oil-based liquids while the polyamide serves to absorb water-based liquids. While budget microfibres will opt for an 80:20 blend of polyester to polyamide, a more expensive manufacturer will use 70:30 blend for optimum performance on both oil and water-based liquids.
Why is denier important?
Low-budget microfibres will typically consist of fibres of 2.0 denier. This type of micofibre is safe on durable surfaces such as glass, interior plastics, fabrics and leather but it is not recommended for use on your car's paintwork or gloss surfaces. Over time, microfibres of 2.0 denier will create superfine surface marring and cause dulling of the finish. High-end microfibre will typically have fibres of 0.13 denier, over one and a half times finer than the budget microfibres. This type of microfibre is safe on all surfaces including your paintwork and gloss surfaces. Over 150 times finer than a human hair, 0.13 denier is the softest microfibre but comes with an additional price tag due to the added expense of manufacturing the fibres over the cheaper 0.2 denier fibre.
What happens after the fibre is produced?
The first thing the manufacturer will decide is whether or not to split the fibres, while this creates additional expense to the finished product, the performance increase gained is considered vital to most manufacturers. Splitting the fibre increases the surface area by creating a capillary action that allows the fibres to retain dirt and dust rather than just spreading it around the panel. Next, the manufacturer will choose the density of the fibres for the finished product, usually denoted in the finished product by the grams per square meter or GSM number. A higher GSM number means the finished product will be thicker and the absorbency and cleaning performance increased.
Why are my glass towels different to my buffing towels?
The fibres will be woven together to create large rolls of the raw material. The intended usage of the finished product will determine what type of weave is chosen for the fibres. The standard weave for microfibre products is known as 'terry weave'. While this is cheapest to produce and maintains the full performance of the microfibre, the finished product is more likely to produce lint in use, or streak when wet. For micro suede the weave is very densely packed with very low fibre lengths to create a very smooth finish, resulting in a lower absorbency rate. Towels intended for cleaning class will have a woven pattern similar to terry weave. With this weave you minimise streaking (although streaking may occur if the cloth is over saturated). The 'closed loop' weave is the most expensive finished product but is the best choice for performance and popular with detailers for all tasks. from removing polish or wax , to quick detailer, spray sealants or waterless washing.
Will the edges scratch?
The quality of the finished product will rely on the edging material or style, and yes the edges are the most common cause of scratching caused by microfibre towels. Budget microfibres will stitch the edges of the finished towel and cotton thread, which can scratch gloss surfaces such as paint and piano-black plastics. To reduce this risk some cloths will have a silk or microfibre band stitched around the edge of the towel. While this reduces the change of the material fraying, the thread used to stitch the banding can still create marring when in contact with gloss surfaces. To reduce this further, some manufacturers will create edgeless microfibre towels by using an ultrasonic cutter, resulting in a period with almost zero risk of scratching even the most delicate of surfaces.
Here is a link to all the microfibres that we stock:
I would like to credit this article to Craig Hall from Car Pro and The Approved Professional Valeters & Detailers Trade Associations http://www.pro-valets.co.uk/