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Chamois vs. Microfiber Towel - Which One Is Better?

When it comes to drying your car, truck or vehicle, you have a couple of options. You can use blowers, chamois (shammies) or microfiber towels. For all you car-lovers out there, you've probably heard of the chamois vs. microfiber debate. It's a hot topic for those who want to take care of their vehicles in the best way possible while saving money and resources. Let's look at the pros and cons of each type of towel and tips for choosing the right one for your vehicle.

Microfiber Towels

Microfiber towels are denoted as such because of what they're made of — microfiber. Microfiber is any fiber that is smaller than the diameter of a silk thread and is usually made of a polyester/nylon blend. Before using a microfiber towel to dry your vehicle (this goes for chamois too), make sure you've cleared all the debris and dirt from the surface. Sliding a towel over even a speck of dust or gravel will be a sure way to leave a scratch.

Another critical difference between a microfiber towel and a chamois is its density. The denser a microfiber towel, the more moisture it can absorb, and the more expensive it will be. The density of a microfiber cloth is denoted in grams per square meter (GSM). Microfibers are two times thinner than silk, three times thinner than wool, eight times thinner than cotton and 100 times finer than hair!

The pros of using a microfiber towel include:

  • Less expensive than chamois and other towels.
  • Come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. You can buy a large microfiber towel for drying large vehicles.
  • Some are made for interiors or exterior use.
  • Microfiber towels have become the number one choice for auto detailing due to their absorbency. Quality microfiber towels can absorb up to seven times their weight in moisture.
  • You can use microfiber towels in waterless car washes because of their soft and nonabrasive texture.
  • Can be used to clean dust without scratching your vehicle's body.

Cons of choosing a microfiber towel over a chamois are:

  • Can leave streaks on your car or truck when damp
  • Cheaper towels can leave behind cotton particles
  • You may need more than one for drying your vehicle. This can be costly, depending on how many you need to get the job done.

If you already have a microfiber towel at home or for your car wash, we suggest following the steps below to ensure their longevity and effectiveness:

  • Refrain from using bleach or fabric softener.
  • If possible, air-dry your microfiber towels.
  • Never dry them in high temperatures.


You may have noticed drivers in the Olympics using chamois towels. "Chamois" refers to the weaved material of the towel and comes in a soft, felt-like finish. They are an absorbent synthetic rubber type and are ideal for larger vehicles. Chamois can become stiff when dry.

The pros of using a chamois include:

  • Efficient at absorbing water.
  • Great for large surfaces.
  • You only need one to dry your entire vehicle.

On the other hand, you may want to look out for some of the cons of using a chamois:

  • Dries hard, which can make it inconvenient to store.
  • Can scratch the vehicle if used incorrectly.
  • Requires water to work effectively and is not ideal for waterless, eco-friendly sprays.

To properly take care of a chamois, be sure to:

  • Clean your chamois after every use with clean, soapy water with only soaps explicitly made for automobiles.
  • Use only chemical-free water to clean your chamois.
  • Chamois are best washed by hand and need to be left to dry naturally. Do not tumble-dry or dry-clean your chamois.

What Is the Difference Between Shammy and Chamois?

As you're considering whether you want to buy a microfiber towel or a car-drying chamois, you're bound to come across a third term, "shammy." Don't let it throw you for too much of a loop. A car shammy isn't a totally different kind of fabric that's been thrown into the mix.

In fact, the word "shammy" is a nickname that actually comes from the word "chamois." However, that doesn't mean that a shammy and a chamois cloth are exactly the same thing. A shammy tends to be made from a specific type of chamois leather. The leather is excellent for polishing and shining up everything from the surface of a vehicle to fine jewelry. For this reason, a true shammy can be an excellent addition to your car care kit.

Here's the real question, though — will a shammy dry a vehicle as well as a chamois will? The answer depends upon the brand and type of shammy that you purchase. Because all shammies are manufactured and branded independently, you'll want to make sure that you choose the one that's right for the project you have on hand. In other words, read the "best use" guidelines before you buy a shammy.

At the end of the day, you'll be happy that you did your homework on chamois versus car shammy products, as well as chamois and shammies versus microfiber towels. The more knowledge you have, the better you can decide which type of towel to select.

Conclusion: Should You Choose Microfiber Towels or Chamois?

In the end, we suggest using microfiber towels for luxury cars or if you're first getting started.

High-quality microfiber towels will not fall apart or scratch the surface of your vehicles like cheaper towels or chamois. Quality microfiber towels include a waffle weave towel (for windows or glass), a drying microfiber towel (for anytime you make contact with the paint), a microfiber wash mitt (for applying soap) and a microfiber dash duster (for hard-to-reach places).

On the other hand, if you're looking for a towel that soaks up water quickly, chamois towels may be the best choice. Synthetic chamois are generally a better choice than leather chamois because they absorb more water.

If you are ready to stock your car wash or garage with the best towels for your car, check out our car wash towels or microfiber towels. Or, if you have questions or concerns about which towel to choose for your vehicle, contact us or call us toll-free at 1-866-449-3999, and a qualified member of our staff will be happy to talk to you about your towel needs.

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