Guide to Choosing the Best Car Drying Towel

Guide to Choosing the Best Car Drying Towel

Your Guide to Choosing the Best Car Drying Towel

One often overlooked step in the car cleaning process ( at least by amateur car detailers ) is drying the car after the wash stage. It is something I am guilty of myself while I was learning the ropes about proper car care when I was growing up and trying to maintain my first car.

Once you start implementing this step in your cleaning routine, you will never look back as it will drastically improve the overall finish and appearance of the car compared to if you had just let it dry naturally.

It is important to learn not only how to dry your car correctly, but how to dry your car safely. A lot of people underestimate the damage you could be causing to your cars paintwork by using the wrong tools for the job while drying the car.

If you are not careful your car could end up looking like this – trust me, that’s not what you want ( i learned the hard way years ago! )


Best Car Drying Towel


If your car already looks like this – check out our beginner’s guide to machine polishers HERE

Why it’s important to Dry Your Car after Washing

You could spend the entire day carefully cleaning your car with the best equipment and the most effective cleansers and shampoos, but your car still isn’t going to be completely clean until it’s dried thoroughly.

Many “normal” people just leave their car out in the sun to drip-dry and call it a day, that can be almost as bad as not washing it in my opinion. Because, water droplets left on your car’s finish may still contain dirt, impurities and grit that won’t evaporate with the water.

Once the water evaporates, those bits of dirt and grit are left on the cars paint and this is guaranteed to end up water spotted once it has dried off. ( This is also one reason why you should not wash your car in direct sunlight but that is a discussion for another day ) Thee hardened sediment can cause problems if you try to remove it without a detail spray, and in worse cases can begin to etch your paint.

Below is an example of what water spots can look like so you can look out for them the next time you are cleaning your car – DO NOT TRY to rub these off-dry


Best Car drying towel


How NOT to Dry Your Car

1)Cotton Towel

A towel is a Towel, right? Nope. One of the first mistakes I ever made when I was learning how to clean my car properly was to assume that any old towel would work for drying my car.

I used to take bath towels from around my family home and claim them as my own and use them regularly for drying my car. What you might not know is that bath towels use a backing material that contains heavy polyester thread. The edges of the towel are stitched with polyester thread, too.

One fact that might surprise you is that Pound for pound, polyester is stronger than steel. This is great for long-lasting bath towels, but it’s not so good for your car’s paint. It is guaranteed to cause scratches.

Traditional polyester and polyester blend thread easily can scratch an automotive paint finish. Your car’s paint will be a swirled mess I can assure you. A bath towel is NOT a car towel.


Best Car Drying Towel


2)Water Blade

Some people swear by water blade or squeegee type contraptions, however, I do not recommend them or trust them for drying the car safely. It might work out OK if you are super careful but it only takes ONE small dirt particle between the blade and your car to create a fine scratch.

It could be something leftover on the surface after washing your car, or an abrasive particulate that floated its way onto the wet surface after it was washed, or something that is actually on the surface of the squeegee or water blade itself. Any of these scenarios could wreak havoc on your paint. For this reason, I would never put one near my car

 Best Car Drying Towel


3)Air Dry

As I already described in detail above, letting your car air dry is not an option if you want your car to look its best. You have already put effort into the wash stage, you should finish the job properly and dry your car ( Safely )


4)Chamois ( Shammy )

Chamois or Shammys, as I know them, are used by Many to dry their car, but I am not a fan. Primarily for the same reason as outlines with the Water blade method of drying.

The chamois itself is a flat surface so when it comes into contact with the surface of the wet car it creates a sort of suction, with no cushion in between the chamois and the paint.

Now let’s say there are a few particles of dirt left on the surface before you spread out the chamois. You’ll be dragging that dirt all across the surface of your paint, causing fine scratches. Avoid. , Chamois isn’t as safe to use as you might have thought.

Best Car Drying Towel


The Correct Way to Dry Your Car

As far as I am concerned, there is only one correct way to dry your car, and this is by Using a Microfiber Towel. But what makes a microfiber towel different from any other towel you may ask? Let us take a quick look

Best Car Drying Towel

What is a Microfiber towel?

People often wonder what makes a microfiber cloth any different than any other cloth. Microfiber is defined as a fiber that is 1 denier or less. What is a denier? It’s a measurement of fineness equal to a unit of fibre that weighs one gram for every 9000 meters…What the hell does that mean?

Well, it just means it is REALLY small. To put it in perspective, microfiber is 1/100 the diameter of a human hair and 1/20 the diameter of a strand of silk.  One square inch of a microfiber cloth has approximately 200,000 fibers

Why use a Microfiber towel to dry your car?

Microfiber towels make a detailers job far easier, faster, and more productive when it comes to the drying stage of washing a car. Microfiber towels have many advantages over other towels. They absorb seven times their weight in liquid, can be used repeatedly (up to 600 washings reported) without deterioration, and eliminate the need for cleaning chemicals in some instances.

This is great, but the number 1 reason you should use them for drying your car is that they are the safest method, and probably the least likely to cause damage to your paintwork. This is due to their fine nature. Particles of dirt are much less likely to come in to contact with your paintwork.

+ Microfiber towels are very effective because they can absorb a lot of water, especially the larger ones. The first time you use a good drying towel, you may be surprised!

+ Microfiber towels will have little to no negative  effects on paint, meaning you will have fewer chances of Swirls or Marring in the paint

+ A good drying towel is not only suited for drying but can also be used to buff off polish, wax, sealant or to clean interior with if needed.


Choosing the Best Car Drying Towel

Choosing the best drying towel for your car can be tricky, with the number of available options. You need to be careful though, as some are far better than others. If you buy a good towel, to begin with, you may not have to buy another one for a long time as a good microfiber towel will last you years.

What may seem like an expensive outlay(for a towel), may end up saving you money over time. ( or at the very least scratches to your cars paintwork!) Below I have outlined some tried and tested products which are perfect for getting you on track to drying your car safely and effectively.


1)Chemical Guys Happy Ending Edgeless Microfiber Towel

Stellar Product By Chemical Guys. The Happy Ending Microfiber Towel is made with premium 70/30 blend microfiber for ultra-soft scratch-free cleaning. The towel is extremely fluffy for the expanded surface area that traps harmful dust and dirt particles.

More info HERE

My Notes :

+Super Soft

+Great Absorption

+Very SafeBest Car drying towel

2)Chemical Guys Waffle Weave Gray Matter

Another Top choice from Chemical guys. It’s massive in size, soaks water like nothing else I’ve seen.

More info HERE

My Notes :

+Huge Size

+Great Absorption

– fray after a while on the edges

Best Car Drying towel

3)Meguiar’s X2000 Water Magnet

Large 22″ x 30″ waffle texture microfiber towel produced by another trusted car detailing brand. These ultra-absorbent waffle-weave design towels are one of my favourites to use.

More info HERE

My Notes :

+ Great Quality

+ Cheaper than a lot of the competitors ( Usually less than 10 bucks )

+ Long-lasting

Best Car drying towel

4) Griot’s Garage 55590 PFM Drying Towel

This is another great option. This towel delivers unrivalled drying power, which is what you would expect from a company like Griots Garage.

More info HERE

My Notes :

+ Thick, Double-lined material

– Bit pricey but great quality

+ Claims to hold up to 5lb of water

Best car drying towel

5) Chemical Guys Woolly Mammoth 

The woolly mammoth was probably one of the first premium towels I ever owned and is still going strong to this day (with the added benefit of being 100% machine washable ). This thing is a mammoth at (25 in. x 36 in.). Serious drying power.

More info HERE


+ Thick, Double-lined material

– Bit pricey but great quality

+ Claims to hold up to 5lb of water

Best car drying towel

So, now you have a great Microfiber Towel for your Car, What Next? Having the right tools is only half the battle. As safe as microfiber towels are, you should still make sure you are using them correctly.

Use the below guide to get the best results from your new towel.

How to Dry your Car With A Microfibre towel

There are 2 main ways ( that I know of ) of drying your car with a microfiber towel

  • The swipe and drag technique

1)A slightly damp microfiber drying towel wicks water better than a dry microfiber towel. Additionally, the damp towel significantly reduces surface friction between itself and the surface, creating a safer more effective drying procedure.

2)Using a sweeping motion and light pressure, use the towel to preliminary dry the car surfaces, especially where there is standing water.

3)Continue to work your way around the car until it is completely dry

  • The drop and soak technique

This is my preferred technique for drying a car.

1)The microfiber towel is gently laid down on the surface, allowing it to soak up the water simply by laying on top of it.

2)When the water is absorbed, the towel is simply picked up and laid down on another surface. (The advantage is that you don’t move the towel which minimizes the risk of swirls or marring)


Looking after your Microfiber Towels

If you want your fancy new microfiber towels to last, there a few steps and precautions you should take to make sure they last and continue to be as effective as the day you first used them. Below are some general guidelines for looking after your car towels


best car drying towel

Don’t Wash your Microfiber with other fabrics

Never mix microfiber towels with anything else because they will pick up lint from other fabrics in the laundering process and then deposit them on the car afterwards. Always wash separately.


Pre Wash them if they have a lot of residue on them

• If some towels have a thick residue of wax or some other cleaning/polishing product, get that out first by soaking them in a bucket of warm, soapy water. Hand wash until the residue has melted away, before including them in the wash with the other microfiber towels.


Don’t use water that is too hot

• Unless the towels are especially dirty, warm-cold water is will be gentle enough to get the towels clean without damaging them.  No need to expose them to a very high heat wash


Watch out for Lint

• Before you start the dryer, make sure the lint catcher is clean. If not, the towels will soak up the lint, and you don’t want that touching your cars paintwork.


Watch out for high heat

• Dry the microfiber towels in low heat. High heat will damage the hooks in the fabric and make them matted and curled

Hopefully, now you are well on your way to drying your car in a better and safer manner! As always, please let us know in the comments what your personal preferences are when it comes to microfiber towels for your car.

If you want to check out some of my other recommended products, you can find them HERE

Happy Detailing!

About the Author – Darren O Hara

Darren is the founder of the DriveDetailed blog and is a keen detailing enthusiast living in the rainy south of Ireland. When he is not cleaning his car he is always researching ways he can improve his techniques and enjoys testing out out new products.

Darren currently drives an Audi TTRS and is a big fan of performance cars.

You can follow Darren on Instagram @darrenoharacork

Go Home


21 thoughts on “Guide to Choosing the Best Car Drying Towel

  1. Hi Darren, thanks! This post is very informative and very akin to details. I have one question to ask, with all these car drying towel you mentioned. Which type is the most applicable and ready-to-go drying towel in case of a sudden car detailing?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: