LF Microfiber Guide: Proper Wash & Care

Simple steps to properly care for your microfibers:

No bleach, softener, dyes or perfumes.

1 teaspoon of white vinegar per towel

1 to 2 oz of “free” detergent per standard microfiber load

Wash Microfibers separately from other textiles – Treat as Delicate

Low or No Heat – Preferably air dry

These are simple tips I tell all my clients for caring for their microfibers. Read on for Part 1 of the Liquid Finish Detailing Microfiber Guide.

 

You Should Not:

NO FABRIC SOFTENER, BLEACH, & DRYER SHEETS – Bleach and softeners eliminate static charge. Softeners deposit a coating on the fibers which lead to loss of absorbency, cleaning power, and streaking.

NO CROSS CONTAMINATION OF TEXTILES – Microfibers are not to be washed with any cotton or textiles of any sort, strictly microfiber loads (applicator, bonnets). Cotton, or say steel wool, will simply detach their fibers and destroy the fibers by filling them with lint.

If you happen to cross mix: try the Boiling Method and decontaminate your microfibers with a few washes. This MIGHT aid the problem.

NO IRONING – Microfibers should not wrinkle unless very wet, usually they flatten and are absorbent. If you fold into each microfiber into quarters you should have no problems.

You Should:

Separate by Task & Purpose.

  • You should have 2 group of towels: One for paint and another group for everything else. Paint friendly towels (Quick Detailing, Buffing, Drying) should always be delicately cared for since they are the only objects touching your paint.  Non paint towels would include glass, all purpose (wheel jams, wheels, metal work, engine), and interior towels. These are essentially downgraded towels not meant for delicate surfaces.

 Pre Treat & Inspect

  • You can use an all-purpose cleaner to spray on exceptionally dirty spots. You should as well inspect your laundry load to ensure light or heavy microfibers are not cross contaminated with non microfiber towels or exceptionally grimy towels.
  • Some people create a heavy APC/Chemical solution to pretreat towels and dwell them overnight or for 1 hour. Some examples are OxyClean, 1Z Blitz, Optimum Power Clean, Charlie APC, Etc.

Hot Water Wash

  • I recommend 120F to 200F. Korean manufacturers suggest you wash at 60 Celcius. Just make sure the water is HOT. Consumer laundry machines are unable to melt the fibers (the temperature to melt polyester is 500F), so don’t be afraid to use mild to hot temperatures. Heat does ensure the release of dirt and contaminants. Extreme high heat can cause shrinking of polyamide or polyester, however I doubt most household water heaters exceed 140F.

Extra Rinse Cycle

  • An extra rinse cycle is good; both before and after your microfiber load. Before you start your microfiber load, run white vinegar in a quick rinse cycle to remove any prior detergents or residue. For your final cleaning regimen, run white vinegar again to ensure no detergent, waxes, residue, or chemicals remain in the fibers.

Line Dry or Low Heat

  • While your residential laundry dryer cannot melt your microfibers, (some distributors believe so, but again the heat index is not possible by normal equipment) high heat overtime reduces the life of your microfiber significantly. Due to the high electrical charge that occurs when drying on high heat, microfibers are seriously damaged and lose their natural absorbency properties. Tumble dry or delicate dry your microfiber loads. The best practice is to simply line air dry. If you use a dryer, microfibers dry significantly faster (1/3) time wise so be careful.

Detergents

  • (alkaline, pH 12): You will want a clean “free” rinsing detergent, no powders that leave residual crystals, no bleach, no softener, no perfumes. You may add All Purpose Cleaners or Degreasers.
  • Use about half the recommended amount of normal detergent, less is more.
  • 1 – 2 Ounces / Standard Laundry Microfiber Load
  • Here is a huge list of popular wash detergents: Tide Free, ERA, MicroRestore, Charlie Soap, Chemical Guys MicroWash, etc. You can use anything that fullfills the “Free” Detergent aspect.

Most specialized microfiber washes are degreasers with scents to be more consumer friendly. MicroRestore has surfactants and emulsifiers to remove stains. As well it contains water softeners to reduce mineral deposits.  MicroRestore is simply a strong modified degreaser (specifically it’s a modification of a garage degreaser and wheel cleaner, no cause for concern however). 

White Vinegar (pH 2)

  • White Vinegar is a natural softener and rinse aid due to the acetic acid that breaks down any leftover residue from detergents or chemicals. White Vinegar has been used in the past as a natural softener and natural multipurpose cleaning chemical.  It has many applications such as water spot removal and chemical cleaning.
  • 1 Teaspoon per Towel in the Rinse CycleMost people just add 1/2 to 1 Cup per load.

Pakshak does not recommend the use of vinegar in frequent or large doses in your washing routine since it can leave a residue that induces repellency. Too much will give you a crust like effect on your fibers (white clumpy groups, non fluffy fibers). 

Tips & Warnings:

  • Color Bleeding: It is common to have color bleeding after the first or second wash. This doesn’t compromise the cloth since the dyes are filtering out.
  • First Wash: It is preferable to wash your microfibers before their first use to ensure no contaminants from the factory or transportation remain.
  • Drop it, Demote it: If your happen to drop your microfiber during your detail, simply throw it aside. Grains of dirt, sand, or contaminants become attached to the microfibers and should be washed right away. Pollen and leaves are also dangerous. Overtime some microfibers do get saturated with dirt and grime, I suggest demoting these to all-purpose tasks such as wheel or interior duty.
  • Storage – it’s best to store you microfibers so that no dirt or contaminants can be absorbed. Store the microfibers using zip lock bags or in plastic containers after a wash.

Boiling Method (212 F)

  • Boiling water breaks down the build up of chemicals and products in the fiber.
  • Korean manufacturers have recommended the use of “boiling” microfibers to ensure any of the dyes or contaminants from the factory are fully gone.
  • Be careful of hot water boiling, and boil for up to 20 minutes. May fade dyes.

Streaking or No Absorbency

  • If you find water sits on the fibers as blobs or beads or the microfiber “pushes” water, most likely you have a case of cross contamination. Fibers were either contaminated with the wrong chemical, such as an improper detergent or softener. Boil you microfibers and redo your washing regimen.
  • Inadequate cleaning regimen can occur if your not using an clean laundry washer, which is leaving chemicals in microfiber. Also too much detergent will have an affect.

Restoring Microfibers

  • If you detail in a large amount there will be a time to reset or restore your microfibers. Essentially this method is a mix of the boiling/pretreat trick:
  1. boil hot water, get a large container, and dump the microfibers into the container
  2. add some chemicals (any decent all purpose cleaner), dump hot water, simmer those microfibers
  3. empty out, rinse the towels thoroughly
  4. start your normal laundry routine. Repeat if needed.

Hand Wash

If you have a small quantity of microfibers, you may wash them by hand:

  1. Find a clean sink or bucket, ensure clean by rinsing with an all purpose cleaner or vinegar
  2. Fill appropriately with HOT water.
  3. Scrub microfibers with small amount of detergent or cleaner
  4. Empty water, fill with water and vinegar.
  5. Rinse microfiber
  6. Hang Dry

Conclusion & Personal Thoughts

No Bleach, Softener, or Ironing.

1 Teaspoon of White Vinegar per Towel

1 to 2 oz of Detergent per Standard Microfiber Load

Wash Only Microfiber & Quickly – Treat as Delicate

Low or No Heat

My Routine

  • pretreat the washing machine with Charlie Soap All Purpose Cleaner or White Vinegar
  • pretreat towels in strong solution of 1Z Blitz or Optimum Power Clean
  • run 2 loads of microfiber, one heavily dirty, one lightly dirty. Use Charlie Soap APC & Charlie Soap Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • run all microfibers with heavy solution of white vinegar for 2 rinse cycles
  • find an open space and air dry towels without terrorizing family members

I like Charlie Soap since it is a dedicate specialized laundry detergent that removes harmful additives within most laundry detergents. 

Words of Advice

  • just clean your microfibers often and immediately after usage so the chemicals can’t linger within the fibers. 
  • inspect your microfibers to ensure no cross contamination occurs
  • dedicate & organize, make sure they are stored in a sealed environment when not in usage.
  • The most important aspect of washing your microfibers is to simply clean often & ensure that they rinse properly
  • good microfibers should clean and last significantly longer than poorly made microfibers

 

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