There are all sorts of fancy car wash mitts and drying towels available on the market.
Gone are the days of buying a 20 pack of Kirkland microfiber towels and treating them as if they were disposable.
No, now people are spending $20+ on one towel.
Due to the high cost, it’s only natural that you want to maintain them properly, washing and drying them in a way that will keep them in useable condition for years to come.
Keep reading to learn how to clean car wash mitts & drying towels so that you’re able to get the best out of your towels for years to come.
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How To Wash Microfiber Towels & Wash Mitts
In theory, there’s no right or wrong way to wash your car mitts or towels.
Most of them will come with labels that recommend certain wash criteria, however, not all do.
If you’ve bought a product and it comes with instructions, follow them as best as you can.
The instructions that come with the product are normally the best way. Manufacturers know their products better than anyone else.
That said, there are still tips and advice you can follow in this article to prolong the lifespan of your detailing towels.
Separate Towels, Pads & Mitts based on their uses.
This goes for washing and storing.
It’s important to have certain towels and wash mitts for certain applications.
I personally have glass towels, interior towels, exterior towels, dirty exterior towels as well as drying towels.
You may even be so careful as to have a wash mitt for the top of your car, and another for the dirtier areas lower down.
Keeping everything separate will prevent cross-contamination and help to keep your detailing equipment in good shape.
You certainly wouldn’t use a premium towel to buff wax or clean oily areas such as the engine bay, so why would you wash them beside towels that are?
Another reason you may want to separate towels is that they’re two different types.
For example: Terry cloth towels shed lint and the microfiber towels will catch and hold onto that lint.
The last thing you want to be doing is dragging lint across your wet paintwork when trying to dry your car. It’s super awkward and tedious to remove.
Choosing a detergent
Most people will opt for their standard laundry detergent. While this is better than nothing, It’s certainly not the best.
For those that want a quick fix that they can use on all of their fabrics, buy a detergent that is dye & perfume free.
The additives can potentially mess with the makeup of the towels.
The same goes for fabric softener which has been known to clog and damage the fibers, so avoid it at all cost.
If you want to be extra safe, you should buy a microfiber detergent such as Chemical Guys Microfiber Wash. This is a product that’s made to clean wash mitts and towels.
Washing Machine or Hand Wash?
As mentioned before, some towels and mitts will come with direct instructions on how to wash them. A lot of the time this will specify whether or not they’re washing machine safe or should be hand washed.
I tend to lean towards hand washing my detailing equipment whenever possible.
I do get lazy though. a lot of the time towels with light contamination will be thrown in the machine. Mostly drying towels or ones that I’ve used to detail the interior.
How & When To Wash Towels In A Washing Machine
I’m sure, unless you’re a young kid washing their parents’ motor, know how to operate a washing machine.
It’s similar to washing your clothes, but with towels and mitts instead.
If you’re unsure, follow these steps.
- Separate by type, material, or usage. (As stated above)
- Add a plain detergent with no additives. Or use a dedicated microfiber detergent. (Remember no fabric softener!)
- Wash on a delicate cycle with warm temperatures. Not too hot, otherwise you risk damaging the towels.
- Rinse the towels thoroughly, but keep them on as low of a spin cycle as possible.
Providing you separated the towels correctly, putting the heavily contaminated ones together, you should have perfectly clean towels.
I don’t really suggest using the washing machine for towels covered in wax though.
The sloppy, melting wax could begin to coat your washing machine and even begin to clog it up.
If you are going to put heavily contaminated towels and mitts in the washing machine, rinse them as much as you can beforehand or pay the consequences.
How & When To Hand Wash Your Towels
Hand washing anything is a tedious process. It’s even more tedious when it’s a microfiber towel or applicator pad that’s caked in wax.
However boring it may be. As mentioned before, it’s a necessary evil.
Soaking towels and mitts that are covered in product in a warm bucket of water with detergent will do most of the heavy lifting.
After you’ve let them soak, it’s up to you whether to throw them in the washing machine or finish washing them by hand.
Towels with heavy contamination may need longer. I’ve had to soak towels overnight in the past.
Towels with grease or oil stains may need thrown out, or demoted to being used on greasy/extra dirty surfaces.
If they are at the point of no return, you can do absolutely anything you want with them since they’re getting thrown out anyway.
Why not try and save them on high heat, high spin cycle? Worst case scenario, they get thrown in the trash.
How To Clean Wash Mitts
Most people are using microfiber wash mitts nowadays anyway. So you should treat them exactly the same as your towels and sponges.
If you’re using a Chenille mitt, I’d recommend hand washing it whenever possible. It’s only been subject to car shampoo at the most, so it’s not going to take much to wash it properly.
That said, you can chuck it in the washing machine with little to no risk, as long as you follow the steps above.
How To Dry Microfiber Towels, Wash Mitts & Pads
I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is far more important than how you wash the towels and mitts.
While the mitts and towels can deteriorate at the wash stage, falling apart or disintegrating they can also be ruined at the drying stage.
Letting your towels dry in the cold air is a recipe for disaster. Whatever you do, do not hang them outside to dry. This will result in a rock hard towel or wash mitt, which could cause damage to your car.
If you have a tumble dryer, it’s perfectly fine to throw them in there providing you use a low setting.
My machine has a “cupboard dry” setting. This setting recreates the atmosphere of a warm drying cupboard, keeping the towels nice and soft.
Just like you would when washing, try and avoid anything that’s high temperature or high spinning.
If you don’t have a dryer, stick them on the radiator to dry. Or if you have a drying cupboard, they should be perfectly fine in there.
Using warm but low heat will prevent them from clumping up and becoming hard. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a dryer, radiator, or cupboard.
How To Store Clean Towels
Everyone has their own methods of storage for their detailing equipment and products.
What’s most important is that you do actually store them away in a sealed location.
I’d recommend buying some storage boxes that come with lids, vacuum bags or even just clear, resealable plastic bags.
Storing them in a sealed location will stop any dust or debris from falling onto them making them dirty after you’ve washed them.
How Long Should A Wash Mitt Last?
It goes without saying every wash mitt is different.
Every brand will manufacture their mitts and towels differently from the other, with some lasting for a life time and others falling apart after a couple of washes.
As long as you make a conscious effort to care for and maintain your equipment, I’m sure you’ll have it for a long time.
If you’re constantly using mitts and towels to wash away contaminants that stain and leave behind marks, you may find yourself replacing them after every wash.