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How to Wash a Microfiber Car Wash Mitt or Towel in 5 Steps

Have a microfiber wash mitt you’re unsure how to clean? In this post, you’ll learn the best way to clean dirty microfiber towels or car wash mitts and save some money. The same wash routine works for any type of microfiber.

Quick Tip

It’s best to retire heavily soiled microfiber towels since they can scratch your clear coat or leave swirl marks. I do recommend keeping a few older towels for use under the hood or unpainted areas like trim.

What’s the best way to wash microfiber towels?

For best results, use a washing machine to clean your towels since the spin cycle creates agitation needed to remove trapped dirt. It can be difficult to remove embedded dirt or wax trapped in microfiber

1. Separate your towels by type and dirtiness

To start, always separate your microfiber towels and wash mitts used on paint from glass towels and heavily soiled towels. I try to drop all used towels in separate buckets labeled ‘interior’, ‘wheels’, ‘glass’, and so on. For example, if wax or brake dust transfers onto a glass towel, it can easily leave streaks the next time you use it. Here are a few categories of towels to separate before washing:

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

Never 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 before washing.

2. Pre-treat stains before washing

For smudges or dark spots, spray your towels with a simple degreaser or all-purpose cleaner. From there, drop them in a bucket of plain water and let them soak overnight. I like to use Simple Green personally. You can add what’s called microfiber detergent during this phase in warm water.

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

Caution

Never use high heat or hot water to wash microfiber, as the melting point is 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celcius). If care instructions aren’t listed, use cold or warm water only.

Wash your exterior towels separately from your glass and interior towels, and don’t max out the spin speed. I prefer at least two rinse cycles just to be on the safe side.

Should you wash microfiber towels in a 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 to 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 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.

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

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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