The Biggest Differences Between Terry Cloth and Microfiber


One of the most satisfying things you can do with your car gives it a perfect clean. Detailing your vehicle, or even paying to have it done, gives you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Everything about the experience of your car seems to improve when it’s freshly cleaned and polished. It looks better, feels better and for many, it’s a favorite Sunday activity when you have downtime and want to be productive. 


To get the best cleaning detail out of your car, though, you need to have the right tools. There are a couple of different things that you’ll need, including water, soap and most importantly, a practical towel of some kind. 

Getting the Right Towel Makes All the Difference

On a hot summer day, most people will run their hoses out to the car, put a generic soap in the bucket and just start scrubbing down their vehicle. This all works wonderfully, but there’s the last step that can seem frustrating if you don’t have the right tool — the polish that comes after. True, you could just let the car air dry, but polishing down the glass and painted panels help to smooth out the process and ensure you got the cleaning you wanted.


When it comes to this step, you have to be careful to use the right towel. For instance, using a dirty or soiled towel might do the job of drying off the car, but dirt and debris can cause minor scratches on the surface of your paint and develop swirl marks. 


Another thing to be aware of is the lint and fibers that the towel may leave. Because you are using it as a buffer to buff out the moisture and put that last bit of shine on, there’s a chance that the towel may leave behind unwelcome guests. Anyone who has used a towel that left behind fibers knows how frustrating this can be.


When choosing the type of towel best for this job, the choice typically comes down to terry cloth vs. microfiber. So which towel is the best choice for your car and what are the differences between them? 

Terry Cloth vs. Microfiber

The similarities between the two clothes are worth noting as that will help distinguish which one is best suited for helping to clean your vehicle. Both fabrics are highly durable and uniquely designed to absorb moisture. 

The Similarities

The terry cloth has a long history of being used specifically for absorbing moisture and has most notably been used for exercise. For instance, sweats and even headbands have been traditionally made using a terry cloth. It’s a uniquely engineered cotton cloth built to absorb and hold moisture well. On top of that, because of its soft cotton texture, it’s incredibly comfortable to wear and breathes well. This makes it an excellent material for developing clothing for activewear. 


The microfiber is likewise designed to absorb and hold moisture. However, it is not cotton. This cloth is engineered with much smaller fibers and is made from synthetic material. This allows for incredible retention and absorption of water. Microfiber does not have the same qualities of comfort and breathability that terry cloth offers and is generally not a well-suited material for any kind of wear. 

What’s Left Behind

The main difference between these clothes is that the microfiber, unlike the terry cloth, will not leave behind fibers or lint. This makes it an excellent tool for polishing surfaces like glass or paint. However, while both materials do an excellent job of absorbing and retaining moisture and are easily accessible, they do not leave the same finished product when used for cleaning. 


The tiny, synthetic fibers of the microfiber cloth are designed to be optimal for polishing the surface without leaving debris behind. While a piece of terry cloth is excellent at absorbing large amounts of water and will certainly not hurt a vehicle if used, it typically will leave behind large cotton fibers in its wake. 


That’s not to say you can’t use terry cloth when cleaning your car if you can go back over it for a final polish with microfiber. So really, both fabrics have unique qualities that make them valuable to have. However, microfiber is the more superior option for cleaning your car.

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