I appreciate car cleaning or detailing isn't everyone's cup of tea, in fact discussing the topic can often generate negative feedback from the quietest of people. Comments such as "I'd rather be driving it than cleaning it" are often received. For me detailing is an enjoyable and extremely rewarding activity. I often find the process relaxing, even therapeutic, it certainly drains away significant stress and I can be susceptible to becoming overly stressed. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and struggle when the power to achieve my desired outcome is beyond my control, internally it drives me nuts. I guess I'm saying for me, detailing is an important release. It might also sound a bit divisive but owning vehicles such as a sportscar like the Seven is a privilege and not something we should take for granted. I don't feel the world is going to sustain energy consumption for entertainment in the manner we know, such as that used when blatting, regardless of whether we're using ICE or an EV. I guess you can consider my desire to detail, clean, polish and protect my Sevens as an expression of acknowledging that ownership privilege.
The world of car detailing is saturated with products from across the globe, and I openly admit I enjoy trying new products and also using every possible tool or product type available. My shelves are full of cleaners, waxes, sealants from a vast array of manufacturers. I'm not shy of towels either as shown in the following pair of images, I could do with a tidy, and I need to find space for my new ZirconiteUK products.
Introducing the Arid Microfibre Drying Towel, a worthy contender for the top spot and by a considerable margin. This product is quite remarkable.
If we were to compare and review products with many operations or functions, say a (computer) tablet. The number of parameters and functions provided by the tablet is vast and as a result, provides many opportunities for a given product to differentiate itself from amongst the crowd. In this instance, we're talking about a towel that absorbs water, so a limited scope! Sure I could consider the design and manufacture of the towel and how they contribute towards the outcome, but I'm going to leave that under the heading marketing spin. For me what counts is the actual operation, and simply put, for such a simple function, this towel performs amazingly well and clearly distinguishes itself from the competition, by a significant distance.
You might be considering how did I reach this conclusion. There was no detailed scientific testing, it was simply based on plenty of experience. I've used many types of drying towels over many years, from micro-fibre, waffle weave and even the odd leather, yep we all start with that classic mistake. I even have an air-dryer too, a MetroVac Air Force Master Blaster!
To understand why this towel is better, we first need to consider the correct way to dry a car using contact and what the risks are.
Whenever we touch the paintwork of a car we risk inducing paint marring. Paint marring is typically ultra-fine scratches in the paint which are difficult to see without a strong light source. These scratches are often created in a web type pattern as they are typically induced when a circular motion is applied to the paint. The greater the pressure, the greater the marring. Why do they occur, various reasons, typically unseen dirt on a panel or cloth and poor quality tools, such as a cloth or a towel. The potential to mar exists throughout every step of the detailing cycle, including the use of that pressure washer! If you are new to this concept and cynical about the risk, take a visit to a local car dealership, take a strong LED torch, and illuminate an upwardly facing panel with the torch using a focussed beam. Then view the panel, you'll see the damage in even new cars. Sadly dealers don't have the margins to detail properly, this is one reason I never let a dealer clean my car during an annual service.
I mentioned earlier that marring wasn't visible without the use of a strong light source, so what's all the fuss about. We're getting into the Physics of light here, but simply put when an incident ray of light hits a car panel, a tiny scratch such as that considered as paint marring deflects the resultant reflected light ray rather than letting it return as it should. The net result of this deflection is a reduction in the reflective characteristics of the panel, a drop in perceived gloss and so on. Basically, you might not see those tiny scratches, but they're removing the depth and shine in the paint. Not good. When you apply certain waxes and glazes they act as a filler, essentially filling the micro-scratches and thus helping to reduce the deflected light, and subsequently restore the shine, but that's a totally different topic.
We now understand the damage risk, how do we actually dry the paint and avoid marring. I prefer gentle placement of a super absorbent towel over the panel, and let the towel lift the water. If the panel is vertical I very gently dab the panel with the towel. You can also place a towel over a panel and gently pull it across, ensuring you avoid any pressure. In conclusion, minimal pressure, minimal movement, absorbency and towel size are all key elements to drying.
The Arid Microfibre towel like many towels is extremely capable of absorbing water from a car panel. Certainly one of the best, I can't honestly say it is the most absorbent, because differentiating products would be difficult, and I didn't do a back to back test. It is certainly one of the largest I have, thus it has the size requirement covered.
What does make the Arid Microfibre considerably better than the competition is its ability to retain water and avoid feeling overly wet. When I used the towel on the 420R I was amazed how quickly it absorbed water needing little contact, but then continued to feel unduly wet or heavy. I didn't feel the need to wring out the water. I suspect the deep construction of the towel gives it the ability to retain water. The deep pile probably gives the towel an immense surface area. Either way, it's pretty awesome, so much so I now have two!
Hang on a minute, don't you have an air dryer!
Yes I do!
Sure drying my Sevens with the air dryer would be less risky, at the end of the day there is no contact between the towel and panel, and as we've discussed that's the source of paint marring. How can I justify preaching the benefits of this towel then? That is an interesting question and I have an interesting conclusion. I was so impressed by the quality of the towel, its capability to pick up water without movement and also its sheer speed, I prefer using it. The process of drying is truly effortless and fast. I can basically dry a Seven in the time it takes me to get the dryer setup. If you can keep a dryer permanently set up I appreciate the conclusion is void, but I'm an enthusiast without that option, so the Arid Microfibre wins hands down!
I guess for completeness we should consider the question can I just leave it in the sun to dry? I don't recommend it, depending on your tap water you'll experience water spotting and marks you'll just have to deal with. The Arid Microfibre isn't expensive, super fast and easy to use, I just can't see why you wouldn't dry your pride and joy.
Hope you enjoyed the micro review and didn't think it was full of waffle ;-)
Sorry, couldn't resist.