Proper Car Wash Drying Techniques

Best Drying Towels for Cars

You’ve spent all afternoon cleaning your car so it shines. But then you take a rag to dry it, and all you can see are streaks and spots. You should use the same caution drying your car as you do when you wash it. And that involves knowing the best car drying towel to use.

There are plenty of towels in different sizes and materials out there. Before you pick a random one to dry your car, consider the most efficient and effective options. Discover the best drying towels for cars below, along with useful tips for using them to dry your vehicle correctly.

Why Use Car Drying Towels?

While you may be tempted to reach for any rag to dry your car after washing it, you have better options. Auto detailing and car drying towels are either made with vehicles in mind or treat your vehicle delicately while still providing absorbency, durability and quality. You take pride in your car and the job you’ve done washing it, so you should use the best drying towels possible.

When you wash and dry your vehicle by hand, car drying towels help you:

  • Avoid streaks: Put in the effort of cleaning your car without creating a spotty, streaky finish. Using the right towels and drying methods will make all the time you put into cleaning your car worth it.
  • Protect the paint job: The wrong towel can scratch your car’s finish or leave marks on the clear coat. No vehicle owner wants that.
  • Dry it efficiently: With poor absorbency, a rag will make you work harder to clean your car. Use an absorbent car drying towel instead, and you’ll make the task much easier on yourself.
  • Save on waste: Some vehicle owners reach for a roll of paper towels to dry their cars. Using disposable paper towels creates waste and risks scratching the paint job, so you should choose drying towels over those one-use alternatives.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Drying Towels

The best towel to dry a car is not your worn bath towel. For the best results after cleaning, you need to consider a few factors:

Factors to Consider When Choosing Drying Towels

  • Size: The best car drying towel will be the perfect size. If you have a larger vehicle, you’ll want something that’s bigger than the average washcloth but not quite the size of a bath towel. Pick a cloth that’s around the size of a hand towel so you can easily fold it in your hand to dry small areas or unfold it for large vehicles.
  • Softness: Choose materials that are soft from the beginning and only become softer with every use and wash. That’ll help protect your car’s paint job and clear coat from scratches.
  • Absorbency: You need to dry your car quickly and efficiently. An absorbent towel soaks up all the water and prevents any from remaining on your car, which can dry and create water spots.
  • Thickness: Thicker towels are generally more efficient when it comes to drying. The denser a towel’s loops are, the thicker and more absorbent it is. However, towels that are too thick can be challenging to work with, so choose a thickness you’re comfortable with.
  • Edge type: Some car drying towels have sewn edges to prevent them from fraying, while others have soft, scratch-free, edgeless designs. Select towels without rough edges to damage or scratch your vehicle’s paint.
  • Durability: Whether you buy towels for a car wash business or home use, you want them to last. Your cloths should stand up to repeated uses and washes, which will save you money over time.

Best Drying Towels for Cars

Best Drying Towels for Cars

The best drying towels for cars are those that won’t streak, damage the paint job or leave scratches. Different materials can affect the quality of a car wash and dry. What you use must stand up to harsh chemicals, grease and soap while retaining its shape and absorbency after each machine wash.

So what towels should you refrain from using to dry your car?

  • Any old towel in your home.
  • Bathroom towels made of polyester.
  • Kitchen and garage cloths.

Although these towels are crafted to last long-term, they are more abrasive compared to proper car drying towels and will scratch the paint. Your best bet for a damage-free dry is microfiber cloths, chamois towels or cotton washcloths.

1. Microfiber Cloths

Microfiber drying towels are great for drying your car and an affordable option when you shop wholesale. These cloths have fibers thinner than silk thread, usually in a polyester and nylon blend. While polyester blend towels with thicker threads can potentially scratch your car’s paint, the thin ones on microfiber drying towels don’t pose that same threat.

Car washes and car owners alike tend to choose microfiber over other cloths. These come with various benefits that make them appealing as a towel to dry your vehicle:

  • Absorbs up to seven times their weight in moisture 
  • Are often denser than other cloths, giving them better quality and absorbency 
  • Come in various sizes and colors 
  • Offer a lint-free finish for drying your vehicle 
  • Dry in about a third of the time compared to typical cleaning and drying materials
  • Last a long time 

In the end, microfiber towels will create incredible finishes while you wash and dry your automobile without unappealing and destructive swirls. Be sure to choose quality microfiber cloths, as cheaper towels can leave fiber particles behind. You may also need a few microfiber towels to dry your vehicle fully, especially if it’s a large one. Have a few on hand, as a damp microfiber can leave streaks. Try to use terry cloths for drying wheels.

2. Chamois Towels

You might also know these towels as “shammies,” or chamois leather. They’re highly absorbent and soft and leave no lint behind, making them another popular option for drying cars. Many car owners find they only need one chamois towel to dry their cars, depending on the vehicle’s size. A chamois towel has a smooth finish, almost like felt. Natural varieties are typically made from the skin of a sheep or goat, while synthetic options often feature viscose rayon.

There might be more of a learning curve with a chamois than there is with a microfiber towel. Because chamois leather is a natural product, they are time-consuming to look after and has a tendency to rot if not properly cared for. They also offer less protection against scratching and swirling. If you use a chamois towel correctly or opt for the synthetic option, you can avoid scratching your car. Here are two tips for using a traditional leather chamois towel:

  • Use it slightly damp: A chamois becomes stiff when it’s dry, and that could potentially scratch your vehicle. These cloths are absorbent, so using a slightly damp one won’t impact your drying time or ability.
  • Use it carefully: Because a chamois towel is so flat, it can easily suction to the car’s surface. If you press the cloth too hard and drag it, it’ll pull along any debris, possibly scratching your paint job.

3. Cotton Washcloths

Car washcloths and hand towels are made with 100% pure cotton fibers woven into a fabric that’s soft and absorbent, suitable for cleaning and drying your vehicle. Flat cotton towels are more cost-effective but often not as absorbent or soft as other car drying towels. Thicker cotton towels are better at absorbing water, especially when woven into waffle weaves, but may leave lint behind if they’re of low quality. That’s why we recommend saving cotton towels for the tires and car interior. You should use different towels to clean and dry these parts of your car, so it’s worth considering the most efficient option.

If you get new cotton washcloths or hand towels for drying parts of your car, be sure to break them in. Run the linens through a wash and dry cycle. That can make them more absorbent because some manufacturers use a coating on the fibers to make them feel softer. While that coating feels nice, it prevents fibers from absorbing more water. Even without that coating, an initial wash helps a towel become more absorbent.

How to Dry Your Car After a Wash

After the washing stage, you will want to rinse your car to eliminate any excess dirt, oil, grease and soap. Remove the nozzle from your hose and apply water at a medium pressure. Rinse your vehicle so that the water flows gently over the surface instead of coming out as a forceful blast. The water will sheet off your car, carrying almost all the water as opposed to beading.

A common mistake people make is letting their vehicle air dry after a wash. Drying is an essential step in preventing water spots caused by mineral deposits. The deposits can etch the outline of watermarks on your vehicle’s paint, which will leave an unappealing aesthetic. When water evaporates, minerals remain on the surface and, after time, will form water spots. Follow these steps to dry your vehicle properly:

  1. Squeegee your windows from top to bottom.
  2. Use your preferred towel to dry the windows and mirrors.
  3. Starting from top to bottom, use your towel to remove most of the water from your car.
  4. Place it over each section of your vehicle and pull it toward you across the exterior.
  5. To prevent streaks, fold your towel into a small square for drying.
  6. Do not rub the paint.
  7. Go over your car again with a dry towel to pick up excess moisture.
  8. Wipe down each door jamb, as well as the trunk and hood.
  9. Dry the sills, seals and areas under your doors.
  10. Dry your wheels with a terry detailing towel.
  11. Use the same cloth to dry off the surface under your hood.
  12. Wash each towel before further use.

Additional Tips for Towel Drying Your Car

To get the most efficient and best possible clean, use these tips for towel drying your vehicle:

  • Dampen your towel before drying: A damp towel wicks water away better than a dry one and reduces surface friction between the fibers and paint. It also delivers a more effective and safer process. Saturate the cloth, then let it dry for several minutes or until it’s not dripping wet.
  • Use a squeegee on the windows only: Squeegeeing the windows helps remove excess water that could otherwise streak the glass. Avoid using a squeegee on the car’s surface as it could drag dirt left behind and scratch the paint.
  • Start from the top and work down: Once you take the towel to your car, work your way down. Drying from the bottom up would mean you dry an area, move up and send water down to the spot you just dried.
  • Shake and turn the towel frequently: As you dry, the absorbent material will collect water. Shake out the towel as you go to keep it from spreading water around your car. Shaking the towel can also loosen any dirt or debris it might have collected.
  • Keep car drying towels separate: Avoid storing your car drying towels with your household linens. You don’t want someone drying off or cleaning up a spill with microfiber meant for your car. That could ruin the cloth and mean damage when you dry your vehicle.
  • Use different colors: Keep your car drying cloths separate from other ones by getting different colors. You could even color-code your auto towels based on what you use them for, picking certain shades for the tires, interior, exterior and windows.
  • Separate clean and used cloths: As you dry your car, avoid putting a used cloth in with fresh ones. You risk contaminating the clean, dry towels with water or debris from the used ones, which could impact your car’s cleanliness or paint job later.

FAQs About Drying Towels for Cars

Below are some frequently asked questions about drying towels for cars.

What Is the Best Cloth to Dry My Car After Washing? 

Microfiber cloths, chamois towels and 100% cotton washcloths or hand towels are the best for drying cars quickly and safely after a wash. Using towels specifically designed to dry vehicles will avoid water spot formation, streaking, smearing and scratching. We recommend using microfiber cloths or synthetic chamois towels to dry the exterior and cotton washcloths for the tires and interiors.

What Is the Best Cloth to Dry My Car After Washing?

Can I Use a Bath Towel to Dry My Car? 

As easy as it would be to grab any old towel in your home, there are specific towels you should never use on your vehicles. Bath towels are often made of polyester, making it a sturdy and durable material. However, it’s not as soft as car drying towels and will leave scratches on your car. It’s best to stick with microfiber cloths, chamois towels and cotton washcloths.

Can I Let My Car Air Dry After Washing It? 

It’s okay to let your car drip dry for a few minutes before drying it with the proper car drying towels. However, leaving your car to air dry could create spots and streaks from the water droplets, ruining all the effort you may have put into cleaning the exterior and even causing damage to the finish over the long term.

Taking a quick drive around after you wash your car can help dry the hard-to-reach areas that a towel may not be able to access. Be sure you grab your towels afterward to take care of the rest of the drops.

Are Cotton Towels Good for Drying Cars? 

Cotton towels made with 100% pure cotton are soft and absorbent enough to dry your vehicle while being more cost-effective. That being said, they’re more suitable for drying off tires and the interior of a vehicle. Lower-quality cotton towels may leave lint behind and could even scratch the exterior.

If you buy new cotton washcloths or hand towels, make sure to wash and dry them before you use them to dry your car. Some manufacturers use a coating on the fibers to make them feel softer, which prevents them from absorbing more water.

Will Microfiber Scratch My Car?

The best car drying towels are made of microfiber, which significantly lowers the risk of scratching your car in the drying process. They last a long time, dry a vehicle quickly and provide lint-free finishes. Since they’re often denser than other cloths, microfiber towels have better absorbency.

Even if you use the gentlest cloth incorrectly, there is always a chance of scratching the paint. Make sure to use drying methods that will allow for a smooth and streak-free finish. Instead of rubbing the surface, use light pressure and use the dragging or blotting method.

Shop Car Drying Towels From Towel Super Center

Shop Car Drying Towels From Towel Super Center

When you want the best drying towels for cars, you should shop with Towel Super Center. Choose from our wide range of towel types, sizes and colors to get what you require for your home or business. With quality manufacturing and materials, our linens are long-lasting. Combine that with our wholesale prices, and you get a great value for your home or car wash.

Shop our car wash towels and auto detailing towels today to keep your car or customers’ cars looking pristine.

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