The proper method to apply any dressing. Step 1: Ditch the microfiber towel

by Richard C. Weichand

I really enjoy watching and learning something new from a detailer. Even though I have 15 plus years of detailing experience and owned my own mobile detailing business for over a decade, I will be the first to admit that I do not know everything and can learn something new from a novice detailer or from the professional. I thoroughly enjoy watching a detailer perform his own techniques when transforming a vehicle back to its like new condition. I mentally take notes of the steps he or she performs and how they differ from my own process. The thoughts run through my mind if the detailers method is better than the method I have been using. What is the reason that detailer decided to perform that procedure in that manner?

Continually I observed a flaw in many of the "new school" detailers. When applying dressings such as leather conditioner or vinyl and plastic protectants, many of the detailers used a microfiber towel. While a microfiber towel is one of the best inventions when it comes to auto detailing, it does have a specific use.

Why I use a Foam Applicator

I always use a foam applicator when I dress any type of plastic, vinyl, rubber or leather interior component. While these applicators can have a cloth outside, the inside of the applicator is constructed of a spongy foam material. The cloth exterior is usually very thin and has an open weave type of design that allows your favorite interior dressing to be absorbed directly into the inner foam core. Using a foam applicator will greatly reduce waste that can be absorbed into a microfiber or terry towel. A premium interior dressing is one of the more expensive detailing products and you should be cost effective when applying this type of product or any other product.

Using a foam applicator versus a towel

Utilizing a foam applicator will ensure that your dressing is applied evenly over the surface being protected. Even though a foam applicator will hold the dressing being applied, it will not lift it off the surface being protected. I lost count of how many detailers applied dressings with a microfiber towel, only to watch them repeatedly go over the same spot multiple times in order to get an even finish. Each time you attempt to apply a dressing with a microfiber towel or terry towel, you are allowing the towel to absorb the dressing at the same time you are trying to apply it. You are wasting time and product in

which both which will cost you money.

Ease of Use

By using a foam applicator you also will know exactly where the product is. Unlike a small detailing towel that typically measures 16" by 16", you would have to waste so much product to ensure that the towel is coated with the dressing when attempting to dress hard to reach areas such as cup holders, door pockets, center consoles, seat tracks and small dashboard trim pieces. Is the dressing on the towel located in a different area other than the part that is being crammed into the tight space that is attempting to be dressed? Utilizing a small applicator that measures approximately 3"x4" makes it extremely convenient and cost effective to quickly apply a thin layer of dressing to the applicator. Anywhere that applicator touches you will know that the dressing will be transferred to that surface you are attempting to protect.

Additional Benefits

Many detailers prefer to wash their microfiber towels separately from their general use towels. This ensures that the microfiber will not be contaminated and help extend its life. If you use your microfiber towel for dressing and do not keep a strict color-coded system, the dressing can be transferred to some of your exterior paint or glass microfibers. If any of the dressing is not completely washed out of the microfiber, you will see how frustrating it becomes when attempting to clean windows or remove correction and protection products.


While this is my preferred method to apply any type of dressing, experiment for yourself to see what works best for your particular application. I have always tried to keep my expenses of operating my business as cost effective as possible in order to allow for maximum profit. While this tip will not only save product usage it will also save time which is extremely important when running ANY business.

"Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back." Harvey MacKay.