Those Amazing Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
One of my lasting childhood memories is that of helping my dad wash his car. I remember those crisp summer mornings in our driveway, both of us wet from running the water hose, talking and laughing and cleaning the car. We didn’t have fancy car wash gear back then, just water and an old-fashioned sponge — one of those big irregular real ones — and my dad’s treasured suede cloth to wipe the car and the windshields dry. I remember that smooth suede cloth, how good it felt in my hands, and wringing it out again and again to get dad’s shiny Jaguar nice and dry. The suede cloth wasn’t perfect, though as it easily ripped, wasn’t very resistant to stains, and didn’t hold as much water as I’d have liked. I remember wondering if there wasn’t something even better for cleaning cars and boats, some sort of ultimate cloth. My search intensified as I got into boats and spent what seemed like endless hours looking for suitable boat cleaning supplies, including boat chrome cleaners and the best streak free boat cleaning cloth.
Turns out there is something better than suede.
Just like natural sponges have long since been replaced by man-made sponges that cost less, are more durable, work better, and do not require the dangerous harvesting (and depletion) of the natural sponge population in our oceans, the old-fashioned suede cloth has been replaced by microfiber cloths. These cloths are far superior to suede and I’ve been using them exclusively to clean boats for years now.
What are microfibers and why do they work so well as boat cleaning cloth? Microfibers are extremely fine fibers made of polyester, nylon or other polymers. They weigh next to nothing, but can be woven into very strong and very durable materials that can absorb and hold much more water than any natural material.
Microfiber materials are also nice and soft, are able to absorb not only water but also oils, which makes them far more effective for cleaning than suede. Perhaps best of all, these very fine fibers do not leave any dust or lint, making them perfect for just about any cleaning task ranging from removing grime and dirt all the way to polishing and detailing.
Not all microfibers are equal, though. They come in a variety of different sizes, materials, designs and constructions. The microfiber boat cleaning cloth I am using is made of fibers that are about 200 times finer than a human hair! When woven into cloth, fiber this fine not only holds about seven times its own weight in water and liquids, but all the space created between those fibers means I can absorb and hold dust, dirt and oils rather than just spreading them around. This means dirt is absorbed into the boat cleaner cloth rather than scratching surfaces.
What’s perhaps most amazing is that these ultimate cloth materials do not contain chemicals in the cloth, and yet they remove dirt, grease, scum, tar and whatever else accumulates on boating surfaces with ease. And they are washable (in regular water; no chemical or detergents needed!) and bleachable and last for years.