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Proper Towel Wiping Technique

Proper Towel Wiping Technique

Most people just grab a towel and start wiping. While this is easy and intuitive it is not the best or most efficient way to use a towel, especially if you are working on a fine or delicate surface.

You would think something so simple wouldn’t need an in depth explanation, but there really is a best way to wipe!

Wiping Wrong

Set up

For most detailing tasks you will want to fold your towel two times. Most towels detailing are square: 16”x16”. 

This size is not an accident - it is a deliberate design choice so that when there towel is folded twice (into quarter sections) the functional size of the towels wiping area becomes 8”x8”. Just larger that the size of the average hand.

When the towel is folded in this way you get 8 distinct wiping surfaces. 

 1-4 towel sides



Wiping - The Act

With your towel folded correctly you are ready to wipe. There are a couple of different wiping techniques to use depending on the purpose of your wipe. 

Are you cleaning, polishing or protecting?

Is the surface clean or dirty?

You want to pay attention to the cleanliness of the surface you are wiping. If you are not careful then you can damage the paint and clear coat - adding scratches, swirls and marring.

If you are cleaning a dirty surface - performing a Waterless Wash or Rinseless Wash - you will need to be extra careful because the dirt collected in the towel can cause scratching.

Microfiber is a double edged sword - it is amazing because it picks up dirt easily - but it is dangerous because the embedded debris can cause damage.

When wiping a dirty surface you will notice that it is the leading edge of the towel that picks up all of the dirt. You can take advantage of this, by holing the folded towel edge between your thumb and palm, and rolling the leading edge of the towel away from the surface in the direction you are wiping. Wipe in one direction to control where the dirt ends up on the towel.


White Towel Wiping
Tip: Roll the leading edge of the towel away from the surface in the direction you are wiping.


Once you have finished your wipe and the towel section is dirty, flip or refold the towel to get to a clean section.

If you are wiping a clean surface - free of dirt and debris - then you can you a less deliberate wiping technique. For example, when applying a spray sealant or ceramic coating, you can hold the towel more flat on the surface and wipe lightly.

Another advantage of the folded towel is that the stacked layers provide extra cushion between your hand and the surface, helping to have a lighter touch.

Again, make sure to flip and fold the towel to a new section often, so that you are always using a clean towel surface. 

The proper folding, and switching to a clean towel section is essential for efficient and effective glass cleaning.

Autofiber Innovations


Flip Series 

Inspired by our desire to increase efficiency and force proper technique we have created a series of towels that are folded and pre-sewn into the 8”x8” sections. 

Flip towels

Double Flip Rinseless

Designed specifically for Rinseless Wash, with a plush high pile fabric. Each towel has four distinct wiping surfaces. They come in a 3 pack. Throw 3 in your Wash bucket and have 12 clean wiping surfaces to wipe with. 

Double Flip Wipeout

Glass Flip

When cleaning glass it is essential to always wipe with a clean (and unsaturated towel section. Otherwise you will get streaking. The Original Glass Flip towels are 8”x8” and have 8 distinct wiping surfaces, similar to a 16”x16” towel folded twice.

Glass Flip Towel

Double Glass Flip

Many detailers have found that using two different microfiber weave types will lead to better results. Clean with one type and finish with another. These towels are a dual fabric design - one side twist fabric and the other side waffle or smooth. 

Double Glass Flip and Reacher Tool

Interior Flip

The flip towels make handling a the towel easier, they work like a hybrid towel and mitt. Stick your hand in the towel to clean in crevices. Flip to new towel sections when it gets dirty. 

Interior Flip Towel

Wheel Flip

These compact wheel cleaning towels are easy to handle and control. Stop dragging your wheel cleaning towel on the ground as you clean or dry tight sections. Stick your hand inside and use it as a mitt.

Wheel Flip Towel


Quadrant Wipes

Our Quadrant Wipe towels are designed for ceramic coating leveling and residue removal and are numbered on each side 1-4 and 5-8.

Quadrant Wipe Coating Leveling Towels

A problem that Detailers have faced since the explosion of ceramic coatings in the industry is keeping track of the towel section they have used. Some innovative Detailers have come up with solutions - like marking sides with a marker, as they are used. And professional Detailers have asked us for years for a simple solution. 

Often one-man (or woman) operations, detailers will get a customer call or walk in, in the middle of a job, set the towel down and forget which sides were used. Sometimes reverting to smelling!!! sides. 

When applying a ceramic coating proper towel folding and side switching is essential because the ceramic will start to cure in the towel fibers. An improperly rotated towel can lead to firm fibers that scratch or coatings that don’t level properly.


In conclusion, to the novice there is only one way to wipe, over the years professional detailers have come up with techniques and processes that make their job more efficient. 

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