Articles | Microfibers towel. What's the difference between them? What you should know.

 

microfiber gym towel
Contour Microfiber Training Towel by Beta-Simplicity.

Compared to cotton, microfiber is quick drying, super absorbent and lightweight. There is a growing variety of microfiber towel in the market and their characteristics may be different. The price also varies greatly with a higher end towel costing three to four times greater than a lower end towel. What makes this price difference and how do you select the best for your intended usage? There are three major consideration when it comes to the characteristics and cost of the microfiber towel. They are, its composition, fabric type and weight.

Microfibers are technically fibers has diameter in the tenth to hundredth of millimeters. Any material that can be stretched to that small diameter can be called microfibers. For microfiber towel, the most commonly used materials are polyester and polyamide (Nylon). Polyester weigh less than polyamide, is less absorbent and have a more synthetic touch to it. However, polyamide dries slower than polyester as it has a greater water retention characteristic. For towel, the microfibers used are usually made out of 100% polyester or a mixture of polyamide and polyester. The table below gives a summary of their characteristic

Polyester Polyamide (Nylon)
Light weight Heavy
Synthetic touch Soft touch
Poor water absorption Good water absorption
Dry quickly Dry slower
Wipes easily on skin Tends to "stick" to skin
Less expensive More expensive

While the composition of the microfiber has a significant influence on its properties, another contributing factor is the fabric type which is typically either suede or terry cloth. Terry cloth is similar to cotton in terms of touch which makes it more comfortable compared to suede. However, it dries slower than suede as it is generally heavier and the fiber piles that gives it volume. Compared to cotton or equivalent weight, microfiber terry cloth generally dries faster. Suede and terry cloth have their unique characteristics and whether one is better than the other depends on what you are looking for.

terry microfiber towel
Terry microfiber cloth
suede microfiber towel
Suede microfiber cloth

Terry Cloth Suede
Heavier Light weight
Fast water absorption Slower water absorption
Slower drying Quick drying
Thicker Thinner
Soft touch Leathery feel
Sticks less to wet skin Sticks to wet skin
Stretchable Non-stretchable

Water absorption rate between terry towel and suede towel

The weight of the towel will affect its performance. In general, a heavier towel will absorb more water than a lighter towel. A terry towel may be smaller in size than a suede towel but may absorb more water since it packs more material in a smaller area. For terry towel, the touch of a heavier towel has a more luxurious feel than a lighter towel on top of its better water absorbency. However, a heavier towel is not always better since it also dries slower.

Heavy Light weight
Absorbs more water Absorbs less water
Nice touch "Cheap" touch
Dries slower Dries faster
Higher cost Lower cost

Given all these considerations, how do we choose one that is best suited for our purpose? While you will have your preference, below is my mine,

Purpose Characteristic Selection
Outdoors and Travel Important.
Lightweight, quick drying, occupies small space, relatively good water absorbency

Less important.
Nice touch, stretchability
Suede, polyester/polyamide blend, light to medium weight.
Gym or sports towel Important.
Nice touch, good water absorbency, stretchable

Less important
Lightweight, occupies small space, quick drying
Terry cloth, polyester/polyamide, medium to heavy weight.

How about other added on features like anti-bacterial or anti-odour treatment? Most of these properties come from added silver ions or particles. Silver ions will have anti-bacterial effect however, as with most treatments, the silver ions will gradually be lost with each washing and so is its effect. Further, silver ions will not get rid of any dirt or skin flakes that the microfiber picks from the bench or from your body. Therefore, it is still advisable to wash your towel for hygiene purpose.



Jonathan
02 February 2018

 

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