Paper towels are good for liquid spills, but you can’t count on them to pick up the breadcrumbs left behind from your morning toast (and they’re not great for the environment either). Cotton rags aren’t very absorbent and are often better at moving messes around than they are at removing them. There is, however, one material that doesn’t disappoint in the cleaning department: microfiber. In fact, microfiber is so good at keeping things clean that one of these rags can get pretty icky after just one day on the job. But there’s no need to chuck that miracle-worker as soon as it gets gross—just follow this guide on how to wash microfiber towels and yours will live to clean another day.
How to Wash Microfiber Towels (Because, Yeah, They Definitely Need It)
What Is Microfiber?
As the name suggests, microfiber is a fabric composed of itty-bitty synthetic fibers—each one as fine as a strand of silk, but less expensive (or we’d be wearing it instead of cleaning with it). These ultrafine fibers do a bang-up job at picking up dirt, crumbs, dust, lint and even stuff that’s too small to see (think: bacteria). Basically, microfiber is like a magnet for grime—trapping stuff in its tiny fibers rather than merely pushing the dirt around—and a go-to material for cleaning purposes. This is all well and good (very good, in fact), but you’ll still need to know how to remove all the bacteria and dirt embedded in those microfibers so that you can reuse your secret cleaning weapon tomorrow.
How to Wash Microfiber Towels
The best method for washing microfiber towels is fairly straightforward...but it’s not quite as simple as, say, throwing the towels in with the rest of your laundry and calling it a day. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Machine-wash in warm water with mild detergent. Good news: You can rely on your trusty washing machine to do the cleaning for you—just steer clear of hot water and stick with a gentle detergent for these guys. Also, be sure to...
2. Wash microfiber towels separately. We already mentioned this—but along with bacteria and dirt, microfiber is also great for picking up lint. As such, if you wash microfiber towels with the rest of your (linting) laundry, they will emerge, well, very linty. Bottom line: If you avoid letting your microfiber towels mingle with other materials, they’ll get much cleaner and last much longer.
3. Skip the fabric softener. Sure, fabric softener makes your favorite cotton T-shirt snuggly and oh-so soft, but it’s bad news for microfiber. Remember how we said that microfiber is really good for trapping all kinds of stuff? Well, it traps fabric softener too so if you add the stuff to your microfiber load, it will clog the dirt-trapping spaces between the fibers and the towels will no longer be able to do their job.
4. Air dry microfiber towels. When it comes to microfiber, your best bet is to skip the dryer entirely and opt for air-drying instead. This isn’t as big a pain as it sounds, though—microfiber actually dries very quickly, no heat necessary. If you do decide to cut corners and toss your microfiber towels in the dryer (to save space on the clothesline, perhaps), just be sure to use a low or no-heat setting; excessive heat will damage the synthetic fibers and considerably shorten the lifespan of microfiber towels.
How Long Do Microfiber Towels Last?
If you do your due diligence and follow the above advice for laundering your microfiber towels, they will perform well for up to 500 washes. Yep, microfiber towels have considerable staying power when you treat ‘em right...and considering how amazing they are when it comes to keeping things spick and span, there’s really no reason not to.