When embarking on an automotive detailing or restoration project, a good quality cleaning towel is a must. But with so many different ones available, which one is best for the job? Well, it depends on a few different factors. First, what exactly are you doing? Painting the exterior? Cleaning the interior? Washing and drying the car? Second, do you want a disposable rag or one that you can rewash over and over again for added value? Thirdly, do you have a budget you are trying to meet? Following I will break down some different types of materials and where they fit in relation to the three questions above.
Paper/Nonwoven Wipers- These disposable cloths are made generally from some combination of wood pulp, cellulose, polyester and rayon fibers. These fibers are entangled together through different methods such as shooting jets of water or spinning with air or bonding through compression. Wypall and Brawny are different brand names for nonwoven wipers you may be familiar with but there are many unbranded ones that perform just as well. For the most part, paper/nonwoven wipers are going to be used on the interior for detailing.
Spunlace- This a very, very strong nonwoven. It’s main benefits are that it is very lint free and will not break apart when using a harsh chemical. It is absorbent but in most forms it is not very soft. It also is on the upper end of the price scale ( about.08 or.09 cents for a 12″ x 13″ sheet ).
DRC- Drc is the most common nonwoven as it provides a little of everything. It is soft and absorbent. It is not as strong or lint free as the spunlace but has more general purpose uses for wiping and cleaning and will hold up fine with most everyday cleaning chemicals. It also is on the lower end of the price scale ( about.04-.05 cents for a 12″ x 13″ sheet.
Scrim- This nonwoven wiper takes 4 plys of tissue paper and holds them together with a network of nylon threads or scrim. It is fairly lint free but not strong at all. It absorbs fine but is so thin that it cannot hold a great amount of liquid. It’s main use is for streak free wiping on surfaces such as glass. It is also on the lower end of the price scale (.05-.06 cents for a 9″ x 17″ ).
Cotton Rags- These cleaning rags can be either disposable or can be rewashed time and again. They either come from reclaimed clothing and linens where all adornments such as buttons, zippers, etc… are cut off and then the item is cut up into rag size pieces ( usually from 12″ x 12″- 24″ x 24″ ). The advantages of cotton rags are their absorptive capabilities and their strength.