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Washing Microfiber Towels to Keep Them Clean and Lasting

four colorful microfiber towels
What’s the best way to clean microfiber towels? Find out from us.

Microfiber towels are revolutionary cleaning products that have superior softness, versatility, and durability that is unmatched by traditional materials.

So what exactly is microfiber? It typically consists of multiple blended polyester and nylon fibers that are woven together into a fabric. They create a net-like surface that can trap and absorb moisture, dirt, and other particles well.

Microfibers have about one-sixteenth of the thickness of human hair. The many fibers of microfiber towels help them to deep-clean surfaces more thoroughly.

The nylon component also helps the towels to be more absorbent and also to dry more quickly. Microfibers can actually absorb up to eight times their weight in liquid. They can remove 99% of dust, dirt, and other residues on their own. They don’t need other chemicals or polishes to do the job.

However amazing they are, even the best microfiber towels have to be cleaned at some time. If you don’t, all you will be doing is smearing their accumulated dirt all over your home.

Learn how to wash and dry your microfiber towels so they can do their job of cleaning properly and so that you will get the maximum use out of them.

How to Hand Wash Microfiber Towels

Hand washing works best for microfiber towels that have been used to clean dry messes, such as those used for dusting.

  • Shake each microfiber towel you want to wash to remove dirt. Throw all of them in a clean bucket filled with hot water. Let the towels soak for about 20 minutes.
  • Use your hands to swirl the microfiber towels around in the bucket of water to loosen the dirt they have accumulated. Doing this for a good minute or two will be enough. You don’t really need to use a detergent or any cleaning product with this method. All you need is clean water and a little agitating with your hands to get the dirt and dust out.

However, if you’re dealing with stubborn dirt that won’t go away with this method, you can add a mild detergent. It is advisable to use one without fragrance or any other additive. You can also hand scrub the microfiber towels to remove any stains.

  • Hold each microfiber cloth one at a time under cool running water to rinse out any remaining dirt. Wring out the excess water so towels will not drip.
  • Hang each microfiber cloth on clothes hangers or a clothesline to air dry completely.

How to Machine Wash Microfiber Towels

For heavier soiled cloths such as those used to mop up spills or clean greasy messes, you need to use the washing machine. Microfiber cloths used in the kitchen and bathroom need to be washed after each use.

  • Pretreat stains or spots with a drop of liquid laundry detergent. Using the tip of a finger, rub into each side of the stain. Let the drop soak into the cloth for 5 minutes before washing.
  • Put the dirty microfiber cloths in the washing machine separate from other items, especially cotton cloths. This will prevent lint balls and clumping of fibers. Also, rubbing against certain types of fabrics will break down the microfiber bristles which will render your towels useless.
  • Put ½ the amount of liquid detergent you would normally use for the same load in the machine. Do not use powdered laundry detergent, fabric softener, bleach, vinegar, or anything other than liquid laundry detergent. These products may diminish the magnetic properties and break the textile fibers of the microfiber cloths.
  • Close the washing machine after putting in the liquid detergent.
  • Run the washing machine with warm or hot water. These temperatures of water with detergent are sufficient to clean and disinfect the towels. Extremely high temperatures can damage them, especially with repeated washes.
  • Take the cloths from the washing machine and hang them on hangers or clothesline. If possible, hang under the sun for further disinfection. If you are pressed for time or have no choice but to use the dryer, tumble dry them with no heat and only with other microfiber items. Also, avoid adding dryer sheets.

How to Air Dry Microfiber Towels

Once you have washed your microfiber towels, just hang them to air dry. Microfiber cloths dry very quickly. They should be dry and ready to be used again within an hour. Air drying them isn’t the big hassle that it usually is.

Microfiber cloth experts are all one in saying that air drying is the best way to lengthen the cloths’ lifespans. Air drying ensures that they won’t be subjected to the heat of dryers that can damage the material.

Furthermore, air drying makes it nearly impossible for the cloth to accumulate loose particles that usually work into them during the tumble drying cycle. The cloths will also dry completely without leaving any bad odors behind, especially if air-dried in the sun.

  • Remove the microfiber cloths from the washing machine, if machine washed.
  • Hang each cloth separately from other items on clothes hangers or a clothesline. Hang them under the sun, if you can, for added disinfection and deodorization.

How to Machine Dry Microfiber Towels

If, for one reason or another, you need to dry microfiber towels in a tumble dryer, put the machine on the lowest setting. If it happens to have a no-heat setting, use it. High heat will cause the cloth’s fibers to melt, thereby making them ineffective in trapping and locking in dirt the next time you use it.

Never mix non-microfiber materials with your microfiber cloths in the dryer. Since they are designed to pick up lint, they can easily pick up the lint of the different materials of other fabrics in the machine.

Just like fabric softener, fabric softener sheets should also be never used when drying microfiber towels. They can reduce the electrostatic charge that makes microfiber less effective.

When the drying cycle is finished, remove the microfiber cloths as soon as possible. Make sure to not let them sit in the dryer’s hot metal drum for an extended period. Again, exposure to high heat, especially for a prolonged period, can burn the fibers.

four colorful microfiber cloths on white background
Wash, dry, and maintain your microfiber towels for long-lasting effectiveness.

How to Maintain Microfiber Towels

Towels, dusters, and mops made of microfiber cloth can retain their effectiveness and will survive up to 500 washes when cared for correctly. Basically, there are just 2 major no-nos: heat and fabric softener.

Drying microfiber cloths takes 40 to 60% less time compared to cotton. Extremely hot temperatures can harm them. For the same reason, ironing them will be a very big mistake since irons infuse heat directly into the cloth.

However, the right washing and drying methods alone will not prolong the life and usage of microfiber towels. Additional care and maintenance should also be followed to better safeguard them.

To keep them intact between washes, save your microfiber cloths for more contained cleaning jobs. Use your other sponges, mops, and cloths that are made from heavier, more durable materials to clean large messes.

If the microfiber cloth was used for light dusting and it doesn’t look like it needs to be fully laundered, just rinse it with hot water and hang dry.

Be gentle with your microfiber cloths. Don’t pull or crunch them unnecessarily, since that will also mess up their fibers.

You’ll know when your microfiber towels are getting worn. Their fibers start to clump together, become rough to the touch, and flatten out.

Conclusion

Microfiber towels are very effective in trapping dirt and dust at home, but you need to be careful in washing and drying them to prolong their life and effectiveness.

Wash them separately from other items. Wash by hand or washing machine using a mild detergent.

Hang them out to dry to avoid them accumulating lint in the dryer.

Be gentle with them in between washings.

Following all of these rules will add to your microfiber cloth’s longevity. Just remember that the better you care for them, the longer they will give you peak performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you wash microfiber towels in the washing machine?

Wash microfiber towels on their own. Do not add cotton materials to the wash cycle to prevent the towels from accumulating lint.

You can use a warm or cool water setting, although a warm setting is better for breaking down dirt and grime.

Use your washer’s extra rinse cycle if it has one. The extra cycle will be able to eliminate leftover soap and dirt more thoroughly.

If you must use a detergent, use a mild one, but DO NOT use a fabric softener.

Air-dry the microfiber towels after you’re done. If that’s not possible, you can also use the dryer on a low heat or just air setting.

Can you wash and reuse microfiber towels?

There are two types of microfiber cloths: reusable and disposable.

The more common type is reusable which has to be washed after every use. If they do not need a full-on laundry wash, at least rinse them in hot water and then air to dry.

When handled correctly, reusable microfiber towels can last up to 500 washes. Reusable microfiber cloths are often preferred because they have a long lifespan. This helps offset the upfront cost, since they are often at least three times more expensive than cotton.

Improper washing of reusable microfiber cloth can cause shrinkage and damage to their fibers and consequently render them useless.

Disposable microfiber towels are usually pre-saturated with a cleaning solution and should be discarded after using them once.

What temperature should you wash microfiber towels?

The worst thing you can do to a microfiber towel is to wash it at a very high temperature, since heat is its number one enemy. You should always choose a cold or warm wash.

Washing microfiber towels in hot temperatures can be very expensive. Consider yourself lucky if microfiber towels washed on hot last you 10-20 washes before they become ineffective, compared to the standard of around 500 times if they are washed correctly.

A lightly soiled microfiber towel may be washed at 86°F, and a more soiled one at 105°F. For really dirty towels, they should be soaked first in warm water with a mild detergent for 2-3 hours before washing.

Experts say that microfiber towels should never be washed at temperatures above 105°F. Due to the nature of the material, their fibers can melt or burn when exposed to high levels of heat.

Should you wash and reuse car detailing microfiber towels?

Due to their softness, absorbency, and durability, microfiber towels simply can’t be matched by traditional cleaning cloths. They have this great ability to retain a lot of water that doesn’t affect their construction. You can use them many times over in cleaning your car.

There are some things you can do to make your car detailing towels last longer, aside from practicing proper washing, drying, and maintenance.

Professional car detailers advise using the right towel for the right job. Don’t use a tire shine towel to wipe the body of the car. The tire shine touching the car’s paint may result in potential damage. You can use color-coding of the microfiber towels so you won’t accidentally transfer one product to the wrong towel.

Also, consider the size of the towel for the job. Use larger towels for the body and smaller ones for windows.

Lastly, a microfiber towel that has fallen to the ground should be put right into the wash. Do not use it on the car, as the dirt or sand that clung to the towel can damage the car paint.

How can I make my microfiber towels soft again?

Over time, your microfiber towels may lose their softness despite your following of proper care and maintenance. There are some remedies for this. Just remember that not all microfiber towels are created equal and what works for others may not work for you.

An easy method to soften microfiber towels requires only a soft scrub brush. Rub the fibers of the cloth gently with the brush to fluff them. It may surprise you to find your microfiber towel soft and plush again!

You can also try throwing them in the washing machine with hot water and delicate cycle settings. During the rinse cycle, add about a half cup of white vinegar (depending on the number of towels). Rinse twice. Throw them in the dryer on low heat. Do not use dryer sheets.

For the final method, wash them for one full cycle as you would normally do. Then, wash again but this time, open the lid and let them soak overnight. In the morning, close the lid and finish the cycle.

Can I use dish soap to wash microfiber towels?

Plain water is really enough to clean microfiber cloths. If you prefer using a detergent, it should be mild. However, dish soap can be used to pre-soak very soiled towels.

Do the pre-soaking after pre-treatment and before washing them, whether you wash them by hand or in the washing machine.

Just add a bit of mild dish soap to a bucket of very hot, clean water. Soak the microfiber towels in it for about 2 hours. Wash and dry as you normally do.

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Kitchen Professor author

Doug Barrington is not a real professor but he's real nerdy in the kitchen. He's been barbecuing, chopping, and generally blazing food for many decades. He thinks there's definitely a better spatula or utensil out there that hasn't been invented yet.

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