How To Choose A Microfiber Towel
Whenever I’m in the market for something I tend shop around. We all do; it’s human nature. And usually I, like most people, shop for value. Most of the time that means looking at a combination of quality and cost, mixed in with a little personal bias (what’s valuable to me may not be what’s valuable to you). In this case, I’m talking about microfiber towels.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like these should be difficult to shop for. I mean, it’s a towel right? It probably feels like the only decision you have to make is what color you want, but you’d be wrong. There are a number of deciding factors that should go into making a microfiber cloth purchase and we thought we would share some with you.
Generally speaking, you want a heavy, thick microfiber towel. A plusher towel indicates better quality so you can be fairly certain that with a nice plush towel you won’t be getting stuck with something that’ll unravel at the drop of a hat. This can be tough to measure, however, because not every towel is the same size, so you can’t always just weigh them and be done with it. This is where grammage comes in handy, which will give you a measure of how thick, or plush, the towel really is, regardless of size. Grammage can be figured as the grams per square meter (g/m², GSM) of an object. Generally used for figuring paper density, it’s equally useful when it comes to microfiber cloths.
Most retailers will provide this information for you, especially online retailers since you can’t physically handle the product before purchasing. If the grammage isn’t provided though, don’t worry, it’s relatively easy to figure out.
- First, determine the weight of the towel in grams. (Most retailers will provide this information for you.)
- Next, calculate the area of the towel in square meters (length x width in meters).
- Divide the weight by the area and you’ve got your grammage.
Say that, while comparison shopping, you are deciding between two microfiber towels of different sizes. I’ve just told you how to determine which the plusher, more quality, towel is. But how to determine which is the better value? An easy way to figure it out is to check how many grams you get per dollar.
Presumably, a larger towel will have a higher price. Because size should already be factored into the price you can do a simple equation to figure out which of your towels is a better value.
- First, determine the weight of the towel in grams.
- Divide that number by the cost of the towel, and you’ll see how many grams of microfiber you get per dollar. (More is better.)
Case In Point
We're always reevaluating the accessories we carry and we recently came across some microfiber towels that we thought might be a better alternative to the ones we already stock. The standard microfiber towels we carry are 16" x 24" (16 in x 24 in = 384 in2 = .247741 m2. Conversion can be found here) and weigh 85.9g. When you do the math (85.9 g ÷ .247741 m2) the grammage comes out to 346.73 g/m². They retail for $3.95 a piece.
The towels we were thinking about replacing them with are 16" x 27" and weigh 94.5g. These microfiber towels are bigger and heavier than the ones we carry, but their grammage came out to only 339.06 g/m². So while the other towel was bigger, it still wasn't quite as plush as the one we already carried (though they were close). The other determining factor we looked at was price. Our towel retails for $3.95 so you get 21.75g per dollar. Meanwhile the potential replacement retails for $7.99. It's twice as expensive so you only get 11.83g per dollar.
Needless to say, we stuck with the quality towels we already have. While the others may have seemed better because they were heavier and a little bigger, all we needed was a little analysis to determine that we were better off offering the same towels we already had. It's situations like this that can help you as a consumer determine which towels you should be buying.
Now that you know how to determine relative plushness and value when comparison shopping for microfiber towels, there are a couple other things you need to look at. While you have been able to establish a relative bearing of quality by looking at grammage, you should know that there other factors which affect quality. These can be largely subjective, but still worth keeping in mind.
- Softness – You could have two very similarly sized and weighted towels, but one may just feel a bit…scratchier. You might be tempted to go down to Costco and get a super cheap jumbo pack of towels. But those economy packs of towels just don't offer the same softness you get from a high quality microfiber towel. (Trust us, we've tried them.) You should choose the softest towel available. After all, we love microfiber because it’s so soft.
- Stitching – When looking at microfiber cloths you may notice that some have visible stitching around the edges. This stitching can rub against and actually scratch your car’s paint. Look for a cloth with piped edges, or a cloth with no stitching.
- Durability – Some microfiber towels just hold up better than others. Lesser quality cloths will curl around the edges after washing, or become coarser after drying. It’s tough to know without actually using and washing them first, but generally speaking a plusher towel will last you longer.
So now that you've read this you should be able to make informed decisions while buying microfiber in the future. Simply find out the grammage to determine the plushness of the towel, and find out whether the towel offers you bang for your buck. Once you find a towel that offers a nice combination of the two, you're golden.