Chandlery May 15, 2005 Issue

The Absorber

Miracle cloth or just convenient maintenance item?

The Absorber that was dried without rinsing forms the background for this photo. The smaller Absorber is still in its case. Also in this photo is the Canon hand towel and the calibrated beaker used to test the claimed absorbency of these man-made cloths.

You've probably seen these "miracle" cloths in catalogs and perhaps in auto parts stores. They're woven of thread so fine that if it was any finer it wouldn't be there. There are nearly 100,000 threads per square inch.

Being almost like air, these wipers absorb water like nothing else. Tough and long-lasting, they are unharmed by grease, oil, and most chemicals; leave behind an almost-dry surface; wash nicely in detergent; wring out with just a squeeze, and create no scratches. (A very thin version of this material often is included with cameras, binoculars, and expensive glasses—for cleaning the lenses.)

The company literature says the Absorber absorbs 50% more water than something unnamed and “….creates a sucking action that pulls water off the surface….”; and that’s about the sexiest thing you’ll ever read in Practical Sailor.

If you acquire one of these world-of-tomorrow mop rags, you’re instructed to rinse it before storing, to avoid odors and mildew, but if you foul up, the bad stuff can be washed away with detergent (but don’t use bleach; these tender threads don’t cotton to hydrochloric acid).

Clean Tools sent PS a few samples to test. The company calls them “The Absorbers.” They come—mail and handling included—in two sizes: 17" x 27" for $14.95 and 13" x 17" for $9.95. The container can be used to store a wet Absorber.

First off, you should rinse the new cloth when you remove it from its nice storage tube. Take a look at the photo. No harm done, but if you let it dry it gets about as stiff as 14-gauge sheet steel, which, as everybody knows, is just a percentage figure based on a weight of 41.82 pounds per square foot per inch of thickness. (That’s the gauge that was used a few years ago by those Australians to make the boing-boing sound for the song “Lay Me Kangaroo Down.”)

To test the claimed absorbency, PS used the small Absorber, a similarly-sized Cannon hand towel (84% cotton, 14% polyester), and a precisely-calibrated, 4-cup beaker into which we placed two cups of water.

When lifted from the beaker after being immersed in the water for several minutes, the Absorber left in the beaker 1-1/3 cups of water.

Handled in exactly the same manner, the cotton towel left in the beaker only 1/4 cup of water. Ah ha!

To its credit, the Absorber didn't drip much when it was removed from the beaker, whereas the cotton towel dripped water profusely.

These man-made cloths are very useful—especially when you're looking for a dry place to sit and enjoy a morning cup of tea and need to clear heavy dew off the cockpit seats. If you regularly wipe down the cabintop and deck to keep them clean, you'll find these useful. They'll also find work inside the cabin on those cold, crisp mornings after a humid night when condensation abounds.

Contact - Clean Tools, 800/654-3933,

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