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MicroFiber Towels

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by RnR, Jul 15, 2006.

  1. RnR

    RnR Member

    Jul 6, 2005
    MI, USA
    This is one of those curious little things that run through my head in the late evening - but I was wondering if anyone has found any practical use on the workbench for those MicroFiber towels one sees at the stores these days.

    I have always relied on the ubiquitous paper towel for cleaning up excess oil and free carbon, but the lint left by those is a problem and I admittedly never really got into the real shop towels as I'm a mere "amateur". :cool: But MicroFiber seems to leave the issue of lint in the dust-bin of history, are washable and appear to be capable of really picking up the dirt/grit and holding on until washing. Might they also be kind to bluing and other finicky finishes?

    Any comments?
  2. enfield

    enfield Senior Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    I use a 3M microfiber cloth to clean the plastic lenses in my eyeglasses. It's lint-free and scratchless! By comparison, paper towels scratch my lenses.
  3. Azrael256

    Azrael256 Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    I think you might walk down to the local hardware store for a pack of cloth shop rags first.

    Eyeglass lenses are far more suceptible to scratching from a dry towel than are firearm finishes. Lube them up with water, windex, or hand soap, and it's less of a problem. When you wipe down a gun, the process is usually lubricated with oil, which makes a huge difference. I'm not sure a microfiber towel would react well to oil. Eyeglass cloths are terribly thin, so I think it would become heavily saturated with oil in short order, and wouldn't help you clean the finish. And then you've got the cost factor...

    For my money, worn out undershirts are the way to go. They're soft, absorbent enough, and with a mesh washing bag, easy to clean up.
  4. shermacman

    shermacman Senior Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Lord, mister don't go there!

    Not mine! Do not use mine on something valuable like a gun!
  5. 1 old 0311

    1 old 0311 member

    Jun 26, 2005
    Planet Earth
    Although cloth is easier to use paper will disolve/dry out, where cloth fibers wont. When cloth fibers get on something they stay there till you remove them. Paper will disolve. This is why engine builders use paper, rather than cloth.
  6. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    Dec 24, 2002
    Forestburg, Texas
    What scratches lenses in paper towels are what are called phytolyths (phytoliths). Phytolyths are microcrystal that are a waste product of the vast majority of growing plants. They have special cells that collect excess or unwanted minerals and those collected minerals actually grow as crystals, microscopic in size. Since silica is very common in soils growing plants, you can readily get opal or quartz crystals growing. Quartz has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, opal in the 5-6 range, whereas glass and basic steel are around 5-5.5. Finishes are usually even softer. So sure enough, your standard papertowels are loaded with phytolyths that scratch the hell out of lenses, but you usually don't see the scratches themselves. Instead, you get a general deterioration of the clarity as you get microscratches on your lenses. With time, they will almost produce a frosted look.

    Plastic lenses usually suffer much more readily since most (certainly not all) plastics are so much softer than glass.

    Using cloth on guns or glasses may be a better way to go. Microfiber cloth is amazing on glasses. HOWEVER, and this is critical, you can contaminate cloth quite readily with abrasive dirt. If you have a gun finish you want to preserve, you cannot allow your gun cleaning cloths to become soiled with grit of any sort, same for microfiber. Microfiber cleans so well because it collects even the finish residue that cause smudges on lenses. That means they also collect grit quite readily. So you have to wash them regularly to remove the grit that may have become collected in the cloth.

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