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How to Wash & Dry Microfiber Detailing Towels in 5 Easy Steps

Are your microfiber towels looking a bit too dirty? Instead of buying more and more and more towels, learn how to clean and re-use them and save some $$$. In this post, I’ll share the A to Z process of cleaning and drying your microfiber towels…so you don’t have to always buy new ones.

Quick Tip

For very dirty and worn-out microfiber towels, it’s best to toss these in the trash. That said, I usually keep a few old ones in a separate container to clean under the hood or non-painted areas.

What’s the best way to wash microfiber towels?

You can technically hand wash towels, but for best results use a washing machine. Simply put: you need a spin cycle that produces agitation to remove trapped substances. Heavily soiled towels can take a while to clean by hand, and are appropriate for gently used towels.

More on washing and drying in a second.

1. Separate your towels by type and dirtiness

To start, always separate your microfiber towels into categories, like:

  • Glass cleaning microfiber towels
  • Microfiber towels used for interior surfaces
  • Microfiber drying towels
  • Microfiber towels used for applying or removing waxes, polishes, or sealants.

To avoid streaks and hazing, never wash exterior towels with glass or dying towels. While you don’t have to go crazy with the levels of separation, as a general rule at least separate your exterior (wax-and-polish-filled) towels from your interior, drying, and glass towels.

Be sure you don’t wash other fabrics (like socks or terry-cotton towels) with microfiber; Microfiber is a unique material designed to pick up lint and cotton easily and should be handled separately. The polyester in them helps to lift, while polyamide is the absorption element—and can also melt under high heat.

Quick Tip

Consider color-coding your microfiber towels. If you buy towels in different colors, you can assign blue for the interior, red for the exterior, or green for wheels, for example. This will make it much easier to sort your towels prior to washing.

2. Pre-treat stains before washing

For smudges and dark spots, spray down your microfiber towels with a simple degreaser or all-purpose cleaner and soak them in a 5-gallon bucket or sink for a few hours. I prefer Simple Green because it’s a good APC that’s gentle, yet effective. You can also add a bit of microfiber detergent during this phase.

Pre-treating won’t clean your towels completely, but it will help dislodge some dirt so your washing machine won’t have to work quite as hard.

3. Select the right detergent or cleaning solution

Always use a dye-free unscented detergent when cleaning microfiber. No perfumes, fabric softeners, dyes, or bleach. On the household side, All Free and Clear works, or you can pick up a dedicated microfiber detergent by Chemical Guys or another detailing brand.

Microfiber Towel Concentrated Cleaning Detergent

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Chemical Guys Microfiber Wash
Quick Tip

To help remove trapped substances, you can add a small amount of white vinegar to your machine’s fabric softener dispenser or during the rinse cycle. Vinegar or microfiber detergent helps break down certain bonded chemicals that regular clothing detergents aren’t designed for.

4. Wash and rinse well


Never use high heat to wash microfiber, as the melting point is 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celcius). Always refer to the cleaning instructions of the towel manufacturer. If not listed, use cold or warm water only.

Wash your exterior towels in a separate load from your glass and interior towels to be safe, and to avoid damaging your towels, don’t max out the spin speed. I prefer at least two rinse cycles (or one long one) when washing dirty microfiber towels just to be on the safe side. You can wash your microfiber pads and wash mitts like you would your towels, so long as you separate them appropriately.

Can you wash microfiber towels in the washing machine?

Yes. This comes down to personal preference, but I would advise against throwing heavily soiled towels in a shared washing machine. Chemicals used in detailing can be quite harsh..and let’s be honest—it’s easy to forget to wipe out the drum or clean the washing machine. You also don’t want to risk ruining expensive clothing.

If you don’t want to use a traditional washing machine you can buy what’s called a portable washing machine. They’re designed for camping and small loads, perfect if you just have a few towels.

Portable Washing Machine

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portable washing machine for detailing

These devices require you to add water (and drain out the dirty water) by hand; most have a shorter 10-minute spin cycle. You can find them online for around $50, and most work the same way.

While these machines aren’t as powerful as a full-size machine, they’re still effective. After all, unless you’re a professional detailer you probably won’t need to wash a ton of towels all the time.

If you have an extra hookup and want a second washing machine for your microfiber towels or shop rags, you can find them really cheap on Facebook Marketplace these days.

5. Dry your microfiber towels (the right way)

it is safe to use a dryer to dry microfiber towels, but use a no heat or low heat setting…and absolutely no dryer sheets. Heat can damage microfiber during washing OR drying; dryer sheets and softeners will clog and harden the fibers.

You can air dry your microfiber towels in a well-ventilated area on a drying rack if you don’t have a dryer, just make sure you don’t have airborne particles like pollen floating around.

Premium microfiber towels can usually withstand a handful of washing and drying cycles before it’s a good idea to discard them. Eventually, the fibers will break down, come loose, or get rough. At that point, you can either repurpose these towels or toss them.

Store and organize your towels

Once clean, I recommend you fold and separate your clean microfiber towels and keep them away from your dirty towels. You can even store them in separate containers or clear bags, organized by type.

Quick Tip

After you use a microfiber towel on your vehicle, consider discarding them by type in separate 5-gallon buckets to make laundry a lot easier the next time you wash :)

Ready to organize the rest of the garage? check out these 10 Awesome Garage Setup Ideas.

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