Guide to Choosing the Best Car Drying Towel

Guide to Choosing the Best Car Drying Towel

One of the most commonly neglected steps in the car cleaning process, particularly by inexperienced car detailers, is the post-wash drying phase. I confess that I, too, was once guilty of skipping this critical step while learning the ropes of proper car maintenance and caring for my first car years ago.

However, once you integrate this vital stage into your car cleaning routine, you will never look back. It will make a significant difference in the overall finish and appearance of your car compared to leaving it to air dry naturally.

It’s not just about knowing how to dry your car; it’s about learning to do it safely and effectively. Many individuals underestimate the potential harm that may be inflicted on their vehicle’s paintwork if the incorrect tools and techniques are used.

Believe me, if you’re not careful, your car could wind up looking like an eyesore (I learned this the hard way years ago!)


Best Car Drying Towel


Why it’s Important to Dry Your Car After Washing

There are many reasons why the drying stage of a detail is important, some of the main ones are as follows :

  1. Prevent Water Spots: Leaving your car to air-dry after washing can lead to unsightly water spots. These spots are caused by the minerals in the water, which can etch into the paint and become more difficult to remove over time. Drying your car immediately after washing ensures that no water spots form.
  2. Protect the Paint: Water droplets can act as a magnifying glass for sunlight, which can cause the paint to fade or even crack over time. Additionally, any dirt or debris left on the car after washing can scratch the paint when the water droplets evaporate. Drying your car properly helps to prevent these issues and keep your car’s paint looking like new.Best Car drying towel
  3. Improve the Finish: Drying your car properly can help to improve its finish. Water droplets left on the car can cause streaks or even leave a film on the surface, which can detract from its overall appearance. By drying your car thoroughly, you can achieve a more polished and professional-looking finish.
  4. Prevent Rust: Water left in certain areas of your car, like the seams or under the door handles, can lead to rust over time. Drying your car after washing ensures that no water is left in these areas, helping to prevent rust from forming.

How NOT to Dry Your Car

1)Cotton Towel

Are all towels created equal? The answer is a resounding NO. As someone who loves to maintain their car’s appearance, I learned this lesson the hard way. One of my initial mistakes was to assume that any towel would suffice for drying my car.

I would take old bath towels from my home and use them to dry my vehicle without any second thoughts.

But little did I know that bath towels contain a backing material with heavy polyester thread. Even the edges of the towel are stitched with polyester thread. While this makes for a durable and long-lasting towel, it spells disaster for your car’s paint. Why? Because pound for pound, polyester is stronger than steel, and that’s great for towels that have to withstand frequent use and washing. But it’s terrible for your car’s delicate paintwork as it will cause scratches.

You might not know this, but traditional polyester and polyester blend thread can quickly scratch an automotive paint finish. Instead of leaving a polished, shiny finish, your car’s paint job will be left looking like a swirled mess.

A bath towel is NOT a car towel.


Best Car Drying Towel


2)Water Blade

Water blades are a popular tool for quickly removing water from a car’s surface after washing. They’re designed to glide smoothly over the surface, quickly pushing the water off the car’s paintwork. While they may seem like a convenient and efficient way to dry your car, they can actually be quite dangerous for your car’s paint.

One of the primary dangers of using a water blade is that it can cause scratches and swirl marks on your car’s paint. The hard edge of the blade can easily trap dirt and debris, which can then be dragged across your car’s paint as you use it. This can result in unsightly scratches and swirl marks that are difficult and expensive to remove.

Another issue with water blades is that they can be quite harsh on your car’s paint. The hard rubber material of the blade can cause friction and drag against the surface of your car, potentially damaging the clear coat or paint. This can lead to premature wear and tear on your car’s paintwork, which can result in costly repairs.

Lastly, water blades can also be dangerous if used incorrectly. If you’re not careful, you can accidentally scrape the edge of the blade against your car’s bodywork, causing damage that’s difficult to repair. Additionally, if you use too much pressure while using the blade, you can potentially dent or scratch your car’s paint.

 Best Car Drying Towel


3)Air Dry

As i mentioned above It’s important to never let your car “air dry” after washing. This is because water droplets left on the surface can contain minerals and debris that can cause unsightly water spots and etch into your car’s paint over time.

Additionally, as the water evaporates, any dirt or debris left on the surface can potentially scratch the paint. By drying your car immediately after washing, you can ensure that no water spots form and prevent potential damage to your car’s paint.

4)Chamois ( Shammy )

While chamois or shammies are a popular choice for many car owners when it comes to drying their car, they are not the safest option. One of the primary reasons for this is that chamois are flat and lack any cushioning between the surface of the car and the chamois itself. This can create a suction-like effect when the chamois comes into contact with the wet surface of the car, potentially causing damage to the paintwork.

Furthermore, if there are any particles of dirt or debris left on the car’s surface before using the chamois, it can result in fine scratches being dragged across the paint as you dry the car. Even if the dirt is not visible to the naked eye, it can still be present and cause damage to your car’s paint.

Overall, while chamois may seem like a convenient and effective option for drying your car, it is not 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 (manually), and this is by using a purpose-made microfiber drying towel. But what makes a microfiber towel different from any other towel you may ask? Lets take a quick look

Best Car Drying Towel

What is a Microfiber towel?

A microfiber towel is a type of towel made of synthetic fibers that are much finer than those of traditional household towels. Microfiber towels are made of a blend of polyester and nylon, which makes them highly absorbent, quick-drying, and durable. The fibers in a microfiber towel are split many times over, which creates millions of tiny hooks that trap and absorb dirt, dust, and liquids. This unique design makes them perfect for cleaning and drying tasks.

When compared to normal household towels, microfiber towels are much more effective at cleaning and drying. Traditional towels tend to push dirt and dust around, while microfiber towels trap and hold the particles, leaving the surface cleaner. Additionally, microfiber towels are much more absorbent than traditional towels, meaning they can hold more water and dry surfaces faster.

Why use a Microfiber towel to dry your car?

When it comes to washing and detailing your car, choosing the right type of towel for drying is crucial. Microfiber towels have gained popularity among car enthusiasts and professional detailers for their many advantages over traditional household towels.

Great Absorption

Microfiber towels are made of synthetic materials, typically a blend of polyester and nylon. The fibers are much finer than those of a regular towel, allowing them to be highly absorbent and able to hold up to seven times their weight in liquid. This makes them highly effective for drying a car quickly and efficiently.

Long Lasting

In addition to their absorbency, microfiber towels are also highly durable and long-lasting. They can be washed and reused up to 600 times without deteriorating, making them an eco-friendly and cost-effective option.

Very Safe

But the real game-changer for microfiber towels is their safety for your car’s paint. Unlike traditional towels, microfiber towels are less likely to cause swirls or scratches on the paint surface. This is because the fine fibers can trap dirt particles and prevent them from scratching the paint, leading to a smoother and safer drying experience.

Furthermore, a good microfiber drying towel can serve multiple purposes beyond drying your car. It can be used to buff off polish, wax, and sealant, as well as cleaning the interior of your car.

Choosing the Best Car Drying Towel – What To Look Out For

When choosing the best drying towel for your car, there are a few things to consider.

  1. Material: Look for microfiber towels specifically designed for car drying as they are more absorbent and gentle on the paint.
  2. Size: Larger towels will absorb more water and dry your car faster.
  3. GSM: A higher GSM (grams per square meter) indicates a thicker and more absorbent towel.
  4. Edge: Look for towels with edgeless or silk edges to avoid scratching the paint.
  5. Durability: Choose towels that are durable and can withstand multiple washes without losing their effectiveness.
  6. Color: Choose a color that will not show stains easily, such as black or dark blue.
  7. Price: While a higher price does not necessarily mean a better towel, investing in a quality towel can save you money in the long run by avoiding damage to your car’s paint.

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Best Car Drying Towels (Top 5)

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. Starting at the top of the car, gently swipe the towel back and forth in a straight line motion, applying light pressure to absorb the water.
  2. Once you reach the end of the swipe, drag the towel towards you without lifting it off the surface of the car.
  3. Repeat this process in a straight line, slightly overlapping each previous swipe until you reach the end of the section.
  4. After completing a section, move on to the next section and repeat until the entire car is dry.
  5. To avoid any potential scratches or swirls, be sure to flip the towel over or use a fresh, clean towel when it becomes too saturated with water.
  6. Also, avoid using circular or swirling motions when drying as this can create swirl marks on the paint.

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  • The drop and soak technique

The “drop and soak” technique is an alternative method for drying a car using a microfiber towel. Here are the steps to perform this technique:

  1. Start by folding the microfiber towel into quarters, creating eight different surfaces to work with.
  2. Hold one corner of the towel and let the rest hang down, then gently “drop” it onto the surface of the car.
  3. Lightly press the towel into the surface, allowing it to “soak” up the water without dragging or rubbing it across the paint.
  4. Use the edges of the towel to reach into tight areas and dry them.
  5. Once the section is dry, flip the towel to a fresh surface and repeat the process until the entire car is dry.

The drop and soak technique helps to reduce the risk of swirl marks and scratches, as it eliminates the need to drag the towel across the surface of the car. Instead, the towel is allowed to soak up the water without friction. Additionally, by using multiple surfaces of the towel, it helps to prevent contamination from dirt or debris, further reducing the risk of scratches.

Looking after your Microfiber Towels

If you want your fancy new microfiber towels to last, there are 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


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Don’t Wash your Microfiber with other fabrics

Microfiber towels are delicate and require special care to maintain their effectiveness and longevity. When washing microfiber towels with other fabrics, there is a risk of lint and other fibers becoming trapped in the microfiber, which can affect their ability to absorb water or detail products properly.

Additionally, other fabrics can create friction and cause the microfiber to become damaged or frayed, leading to a shorter lifespan. Detergents and fabric softeners used on other fabrics can also leave residue on the microfiber towels, which can reduce their effectiveness.

To properly care for microfiber towels, it is recommended to wash them separately in a washing machine using a mild detergent and no fabric softener. 

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

Pre-soaking your microfiber towels before washing them can help loosen and remove any stubborn residue or contaminants that may have accumulated on the surface. This can help ensure that the towels are thoroughly cleaned during the wash cycle and reduce the risk of any leftover residue being transferred onto your vehicle during use.

It is important to note, however, that you should only pre-soak your microfiber towels in a mild detergent solution and avoid using any harsh chemicals or bleach, which can damage the fibers and reduce their effectiveness over time.

Don’t use water that is too hot

Using very hot water when washing microfiber towels can damage them and shorten their lifespan. The heat can cause the fibers to shrink, making them less effective at cleaning and absorbing water. Additionally, hot water can cause the fibers to melt or fuse together, creating a rough and scratchy texture. It’s best to use warm or cool water when washing microfiber towels to ensure they stay soft, absorbent, and effective.

Watch out for Lint

It is important to watch out for lint when washing your microfiber towels. Lint is small fibers or debris that can come loose from other fabrics during the wash cycle and can become embedded in the microfiber fabric. This can cause the towels to lose their absorbency and effectiveness over time.

To avoid lint, it is recommended to wash microfiber towels separately from other fabrics and to check the lint catcher in your washing machine before and after washing. You can also minimize the risk of lint by using a gentle wash cycle and avoiding the use of fabric softeners or dryer sheets, which can leave residue on the towels

Dont forget you can check out a range of microfiber towels in the DriveDetailed Store

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

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24 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?

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