Terry Cloth Vs. Microfiber: Which Is Better for Car Detailing?

Terry cloth and microfiber are both great options when it comes to car detailing. 

However, they are not made equal. One is more absorbent, while the other does a better job at buffing and polishing.  

Find out which one to pick in today’s topic: terry cloth vs. microfiber.

Terry Vs. Microfiber: Comparison Chart

Terry Cloth


Versatile, durable, and highly-absorbent


Versatile, highly absorbent, and durable


Polyester and polyamide
Washing, polishing, buffing


Washing, drying, polishing, waxing, buffing

1 hour outdoors

Drying Time

30min-1hour outdoors

5% chance of scratching the paint


2% chance of scratching the paint

Up to 150 washes depending on the quality


Up to 75 washes depending on the quality




The Similarities of Terry and Microfiber

Detailing your car can be tricky. Even for professionals, you have to choose the right tool for the job. While detailing towels are pretty cheap, you can’t use only one type. 

Terry and microfiber towels are great at detailing jobs. Thanks to their soft fibers, they are very adaptable. As a result, you can use either type for drying, polishing, wiping, and buffing. Both types are gentle on paint, but they can still wax well and absorb water. 

Both materials are super-efficient for polishing paint and cleaning glossy surfaces. All you need is to pick the right size so that your detailing process goes smoothly. For example, microfiber towels for detailing are usually 16 inches by 24 inches. On the other hand, most auto detailers pick 16 inches by 27 inches. They are usually the size of a typical hand towel. 

Another similar feature between the two is their resilience. Both terry and microfiber can tolerate daily use and frequent washing and drying. They can also maintain their shape and texture over a long time. 

Finally, terry and microfiber towels are specific to the auto industry. You can’t go wrong with either for various purposes. Read on for our recommended towel for car detailing. 

CARCAREZ Microfiber Towels for Cars, Car Drying Wash Detailing Buffing Polishing Towel with Plush Edgeless Microfiber Cloth

CARCAREZ Microfiber Towels for Cars

WEN 6010A42 Terry Cloth Polishing Bonnets

WEN 6010A42 Terry Cloth Polishing Bonnets

The Differences Between Terry and Microfiber

The difference between terry cloth and microfiber
Terry cloth vs. microfiber


Terry Cloth 

Terry cloth

Terry cloth is a towel made out of absorbent cotton. Specifically, a terry fabric has loops woven together within the stitching. Because of the loops, terry cloth can pull in water. Sometimes, polyester can be added to the fabric to supplement the material.  Most times, terry cloth is entirely made of cotton. 

VIKING Cotton Terry Cloth Wax Applicator Pads

VIKING Cotton Terry Cloth Wax Applicator Pads



Microfiber fabric is a combination of two DuPont fibers – polyester and polyamide. The latter is usually used as the core, while polyester is used as the outer fiber. Microfiber fabric has thousands of ultra-fine fibers. For this reason, the fibers can collect lots of water. That’s why microfiber feels soft. 

SoLiD Multipurpose Plush Microfiber Edgeless Cleaning Cloth Towel for Household, Car Washing, Drying & Auto Detailing

SoLiD Multipurpose Plush Microfiber


Terry Cloth 

Most people use terry cloth where absorbency is concerned. Thanks to the loops in its material, terry cloth has more actual fabric surface. This feature allows it to pick up and absorb more liquid than microfiber. 

You’ll also want to use a terry cloth to clean upholstery, wheel wells, door jambs, and carpet spotting. Terry towels are still helpful for wax removal and polishing the exterior. Large terry towels, in particular, are best for detailing trucks and larger vehicles. 

High-quality terry towels are ideal for the body of the car. They are softer and will not scratch the paint of a vehicle. But don’t shy away from cheap options for wheel wells and mat cleaning. 

WEN 6010A42 Terry Cloth Polishing Bonnets for Car Polishing.

WEN 6010A42 Terry Cloth Polishing


This material is popular for detailing. It is versatile such that you can use it in all areas of detailing. This is because it is absorbent, lint-free, and durable. Soft fiber towels for detailing are handy for washing and drying cars. They can capture dirt and dust instead of moving and smearing it around due to their tightly woven threads. 

Microfiber towels are ideal for degreasing the engine when combined with a degreaser spray. They are capable of removing grime and challenging stains. Not to mention, they are strong enough to handle the dirt on mats and wheels. 

We are talking about all the vents in your car. A microfiber cloth can collect dust fast. 

Equally important are small versions, which are perfect for cleaning windows, interiors, and mirrors

Lastly, microfiber towels are very good at polishing the exterior. After you’ve waxed your car, a microfiber cloth can do a perfect job of completing the finishing touches of your vehicle. 

Chemical Guys MIC_506_12 Professional Grade Premium Microfiber Towels

Chemical Guys MIC_506_12 Microfiber Towels

Drying Time 

Terry cloth towels are bulkier than microfiber towels. As a result, they can take slightly longer to air dry when washed. 

When drying your car, a dry microfiber cloth may not work as fast as terry cloth. However, poor-quality terry towels can leave lint and potentially scratch the car’s paint. 


Terry Cloth 

GSM also determines Terry towels absorbency. A good GSM for hand towels for washing and drying cars starts at 380 GSM. These towels are much thicker and soft so that they can absorb lots of soap and water. This GSM strikes a balance between absorbance and drying time. 

Another indicator of density in terry cloth is pounds per inch. Highly absorbent terry towels weigh 3-4 pounds per inch. You can tell by their softness that they have lots of fibers that easily collect water. 


The absorbency of a microfiber towel is determined by its density, measured in grams per square meter (GSM). A high ratio of GSM means that the fibers are highly compacted. As a result, they can absorb more water and soap. Such towels are ideal for washing and drying a car. 

On the other hand, a towel with a low ratio of GSM is better for waxing, buffing, and polishing. In this case, you can choose a medium-density towel for cleaning and polishing. 

You can know the absorbency of a microfiber towel by looking at the quantities of polyester and polyamide used. The higher the polyamide percentage, the softer the fabric, and the higher the absorbency. 

For example, a 70/30 polyester/polyamide ratio is softer than an 80/20 polyester/polyamide ratio. 

Car Paint Safety

Terry Cloth

Though made of 100% cotton, the main issue with terry cloth is the material used to sew in the cotton. Some have a synthetic base like rayon which is usually exposed at the edges. If these edges come into contact with the car’s exterior, they will leave scratch marks.

The large fibers can act much like a wool or foam pad if you use lots of force. This is because the raised fuzzy surface can be stiff. As such, it can cut into the surface. 

It’s best to ensure that the edges are all cotton and not synthetic to prevent marring with a terry towel. Still, you’ll want to wipe without applying too much force on the area you’re detailing. 


As long as a microfiber towel is clean and well-maintained, it will not scratch a car’s paint. It’s essential to remove the label before using a microfiber towel. Also, it’s best to clean a microfiber towel after each use. Essentially, if you use a dirty microfiber towel, you will be rubbing the dust onto the car’s paint. 

Equally important, it helps not to expose microfiber towels to heat or excessive dirt. Even the best microfiber towel will melt when exposed to heat. 


Terry Cloth 

A high-quality terry towel can withstand numerous washes without falling apart. Thanks to their natural fibers, terry cloth can last up to 150 washes and still work effectively. 

The most popular towels with decent longevity weigh three or four pounds per inch. That’s why it’s best to get the feel of the towel before buying. You’ll notice that terry towels with a density of three to four pounds per inch feel plush and soft.


How long a microfiber towel lasts comes down to its density and how often it’s used. Most lightweight microfiber towels have a thickness of 200GSM. The higher the GSM, the better its cleaning ability. So, when washed, a high GSM microfiber towel will not fall apart quickly as a low GSM towel. 

You can expect a microfiber towel to work effectively for up to 75 washes. While you can take it to 150 washes, it becomes less effective after the 75-wash mark. 

Still, it’s important to look at the stitching and the finishing. Low-quality stitching can cause scratch marks, and the towel will not last as long. 


Terry Cloth

Terry towels have different qualities and densities. Lower-end fabric is at the budget price range, while high-quality will cost more. Furthermore, you can pay anywhere from $20-$30 for a high-quality auto detailing terry towel. This is usually a 16 by 27 inches towel. 


Typically, microfiber auto detailing towels are cheap. High-quality microfiber towels cost from $10-$20. On the lower end, you will find towels in the under $10 price range. 


Choosing between terry cloth vs. microfiber is all about the purpose you have in mind.

If you are looking for something for polishing, buffing, waxing, terry cloth is for you.

Microfiber strikes a balance between usefulness and safety. For one, it can do all kinds of auto detailing jobs. But it needs to be clean 100% of the time if you want it to do a perfect job.

Go on and choose the best towel that fits your workspace. 

AUTDER Car Polisher Buffing Pad Bonnet - Cotton Polishing Bonnet Buffing Pad Cover - for 9" to 10" Car Polisher

AUTDER Car Polisher Buffing Pad Bonnet 

CARCAREZ Microfiber Towels for Cars, Car Drying Wash Detailing Buffing Polishing Towel with Plush Edgeless Microfiber Cloth

CARCAREZ Microfiber Towels for Cars

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