A tack cloth (also: tack rag, tac cloth) is a special cloth/towel that is covered by a sticky substance. This allows it to grab dirt and remove it by making it stick to the fabric of the towel.
Why use a tack cloth
A tack cloth is designed to make particles stick to the towel, eliminating the risk that dust is thrown up in the air and falls down on another panel. Dust, sand and many other small particles stick to the tack cloth and are not released. A common problem when painting a surface is the dust in the air, or the contaminants on the surface. The surface needs to be perfectly clean and free of any particles. A regular cloth will make some dust airborn, letting it float down on another panel. When moving the towel around, you risk that some dust particles are released and fall down onto the panel, especially every time the cloth is lifted up. A tack cloth eliminates this problem. A good quality tack cloth doesn’t leave any residue behind.
What is a tack cloth
The tach cloth can also be called a sticky cloth, tack rag, tac cloth, tack towel etc, but the principle stays the same. The tack cloth is a normal looking cloth that has been treated with a special type of resinous material that creates a thin sticky layer on the surface of the cloth. The material used to impregnate the cloth is often solvent based in order to prevent any residue being left behind after wiping an area. This also aids in the removal of any oils left behind on the surface, giving the tack cloth a double function. Other specific properties like anti-static or fire retardants can be added to the towel. The cloth itself is most often a type of cotton gauze with varying grade or qualities. The better grade tack cloths are made from lint-free fibers, helping even more in preventing any residues being left behind after use.
Very special uses
A very special form of tack cloth was developed by Ron Simandi for Y-12 National Security Complex, called SIMWyPES Cleaning Cloth. The cloth was originally designed to wipe away berylium contamination from an article, but appeared to be so effective that it found uses outside of this purpose. The SIMWyPES can be used via a dry method to remove iron particles from wheels. The cloth appeared to be so effective, that R&D Magazine did a test in which they could not detect any presence of the material after use. The cloths can be used to buff the surface in a dry method, where the cloth captures particles of microscopic size.
Common uses for a tack cloth
There are several situation in which a tack cloth can be used.
- Removing particles before painting
- Wiping down after polishing
- Removing stubborn dirt instead of claying
- Attempting to remove wax or other protective products
- Removing contaminants from a surface before proceeding to the next step
- Cleaning tools and/or equipment
- Some use tack cloths to use their hands when they are very dirty