Car Care / Tech

Mythbusting Microfiber – Quality Matters, Demand The Best

Editor’s Note – This is the second of a series of articles on paint care myths. Jason Mathews has been burning up the highway for 20 years as our National Events Manager. He has more one-on-one face time with our customers than anyone else in the company. He’s dispelling misconceptions… this time, all microfiber is NOT created equal.

People just don’t grasp that low-quality microfiber will scratch their paint. We had a car in the auto display about four years ago. And this owner did not want us to wipe it down… flat out refused… said he would come in and wipe it down a couple times a week and the car was here for the whole month. We offered to give him products to do it with he said I’ve been doing it this way for 30 years, and the car looked horrible, had swirl marks everywhere. His secret?… Windex and paper towels. That was his tried and true system. That’s what he lived by. Car looked awful.

At a recent event, The Friends of Steve McQueen show in Chino Hills, California, I was treated to one of my favorite “learning moments”… people wiping down their paint with those yellow microfiber cloths. They are from Sam’s Club, Costco, or some high volume seller and everybody is loving them. They say, “Man, these are cheap. I get a pack of 100 of them, use them once, and throw them away.” They think they’re doing themselves a benefit by only using it once because they are not getting any dust or dirt on the cloths that can be reintroduced to the paint. And they don’t have to wash it. What they don’t realize is that the very fibers themselves are a low-grade microfiber that is aggressive enough to absolutely scratch and swirl their paint over time. So they get these blemishes and can’t figure out how to get rid of them once and for all.

The lesson is if you care about your paint you need to stick with high quality microfiber cloths and towels. We use the finest fiber and its softness is superior and a must-have quality if it’s to be used in the automotive care realm. It has to do with how many times the fiber is split. Microfiber is basically a polyester blend thread that is split or exploded to create that soft nap. Further, the weaves we use make the most of the nap.

The cheap microfiber is cheaper because it requires fewer production steps. Also, the stitched borders on cheaper microfiber can wreak havoc on paint. To terminate the weaving, the fiber ends in low-quality microfiber are burned off which results in a hard scratch point in the corner of the cloth. You can feel it in many of these lower quality towels. If you get that trapped under your hand when you start wiping down your car, you start making good, tough scratches that are hard to get out.

So at the McQueen event I see a guy wiping down a beautiful Volkswagen with one of these dreaded yellow microfibers. He came up and asked if I had any quick shine that I can use to get a little more pop out of his paint. So I offered him some of our Best of Show® Detailer and decided to grab a PFM™ towel out of a display. I gave it to him and asked him to do me a favor and try it.

I explained the differences in microfiber quality, how our PFM is so absorbent you pretty much have a one-pass wipe to get the product off your paint, and sent him on his way. The less you have to sit there and rub, and he was working the VW pretty hard, the less chance you have of inducing swirls into the paint. He would wipe the yellow towel four or five times compared to one pass with the PFM. I watched him after he made that one pass with the PFM and he stopped in his tracks and just looked at the towel in his hands in disbelief, probably wondering if this is snake oil. Then I watched him do it again… he had to prove to himself it was for real. He did it a couple times, then threw the yellow cloth on the ground and went around the car with the PFM.

That right there is the level of guerilla education that we do with consumers. Really get them to believe you because often times just telling them isn’t enough. They have to actually see it, use it first hand, before the message hits home.


  1. George Lucas says:

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t disagree more. AND, I’m an ardent Griot’s fan! But I’ve also been in the fabric industry almost all my professional life. The problem ANY grade of microfiber (and I’ve purchased all of them) is that polyester is not a *natural* fiber and merely moves around water on a smooth surface with almost NO absorption! A good grade, clean chamois is much better. And even better is a product called ABSORBER that is an imitation chamois and wicks the water away. Even before I use that, however, after a good washing of my car, I remove the majority of water with a soft rubber blade, THEN I use the Absorber. I am constantly amused by this microfiber craze and just shake my head at the claims made. But, Griot’s Speed Shine IS the best detailer on the market!

  2. Blasphemy George! A rubber water blade and a chamois better than a PFM? You’ve obviously never used the Griots PFM towels. They are exceptional. My only complaint with the PFM drying towels is that they do snag fairly easily on emblems, badges, and metal trim, but this does not affect their performance in any way. I have used PFM’s for well over a year on both my show cars and daily drivers. Do yourself a favor and buy these towels!

  3. Steve Fucoffski says:

    Dear George,

    For someone who claims to be an “industry insider” you don’t know what the “PFM” your talking about. The entire point of MICROfiber is that it doesn’t absorb anything. It traps minuscule amounts of water, product, debris etc. between the “split” fibers that Mike mentioned above, and then holds on to them, but these particulates never imbed themselves in the fiber, which is why MICROfiber is so easy to clean and resists staining. Furthermore while the materials may be synthetic the process couldn’t be more “natural” this is exactly how a sea otters fur traps air bubbles as insulation to keep warm in freezing water.

    Even crappy MICROfiber towels are amazing and Griots Garage PFM and earlier towels are exactly what they claim to be, can I get a P F M!

    It’s also worth mentioning I’m also a fan of the Absorbers that George mentioned, I use them for all kinds of stuff around the house but I wouldn’t use them on my car.

    Steve F.
    Extremely satisfied and informed Griots customer.

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