When it comes to drying your car, truck, or another vehicle you have a few different basic options. From chamois (shammies) to microfiber towels, to blowers made specifically for this purpose, which one is the best?
In this blog, I’ll break down the pros and cons of each type, and how to decide which one you should go with.
In general, microfiber towels are your safest and most popular option for drying your vehicle. You can pick these up pretty much anywhere, just make sure you get one that’s made for automotive use. There are several that I’ve used over the years that really aren’t great, so make sure you try a few out first.
With whatever drying product you decide to go with, make sure your car is free from all dirt and debris before using towels (or shammys). Forgetting to wash away a spec of tar or gravel and sliding a towel over it is a surefire way to leave a scratch!
- Come in all shapes and sizes. Most are a standard size, but you can buy pretty large micrifiber towels that are perfect for drying large vehicles
- Some made for interiors or exterior use
- Most are relatively inexpensive
- You probably need need several towels if detailing multiple vehicles
- Can leave streaks when damp
- Cheaper towels can leave behind cotton particles
One of the most effective products to dry a large vehicle (or even a boat) is a chamois. These are usually a super-absorbent synthetic rubber type material (or leather), and are ideal for larger vehicles and for drying fleets of vehicles.
I have used a few of these throughout the years, and they are one of my favorites, simply because you can wring it out and don’t need a bunch of towels.
- Great for large surfaces
- Very efficient at absorbing water
- Only one required to dry your entire vehicle
- Requires water to use, not ideal for waterless eco-friendly sprays
- Potential to scratch vehicle if used incorrectly
- Dries hard, not as convenient to store
One device that you may or may not have seen used are car dryers (also called blowers). Most of these made for detailing are electric and corded, although I have seen models that run off of battery power.
Some made specifically for car drying like the McKee 37 Turbo I found here on Amazon actually filters the air to keep the surface clean of debris, blows warm air, and is significantly less expensive than many. It also comes with a strap, and unlike leaf blowers can blow water out of crevices with a flexible nozzle.
Unless you are trying to prevent water spots, it may not be worth the investment for what you get. Many people will just purchase a leaf blower to use solely for drying your car, which many people do. If water spots are your main reasoning behind purchasing a blower, you may want to check out out this post I wrote about using purified water and deionizers to help eliminate these water spots for good.
On the other hand, some smaller handheld detailing blowers like the MetroVac Sidekick are great for drying motorcycles and areas that are hard (or impossible to reach) with a towel. These are great for wheels and when used in combination with cloths or chamois.
- Helps prevent water marks, since water is blown off
- Easy to operate, no wiping or rinsing
- Can dry a car relatively quickly
- Can be noisy depending on the model you buy
- Most require portable power to operate as a mobile detailer
- Some models can be bulky
- Can take some time, depending on the blower
What to Keep in Mind When Using Blowers
- If you use a leaf blower or handheld, just be sure not to blow from the ground up, to avoid spraying debris and dirt on your vehicle.
- If your blower has wheels, be careful not to damage the vehicle when dragging cords and hoses around.
It really comes down to personal preference, but I generally prefer using a combination of a chamois and microfiber drying towel on my truck. This is simply because my vehicle isn’t a show car and I have experience with them. It also depends on what you are drying.
Luxury Cars or Show Cars: Microfiber Towels
For a luxury car, you’ll probably want to use the highest quality microfiber towel you can find. Below are a few good high-quality options to take a look at that all serve different purposes. These are significantly more expensive, but won’t fall apart or risk scratching the surface like cheaper towels:
Most of these are higher GSM (Grams per Square Inch) towels and significantly different than standard towels you will usually find at a Walmart or local store. Below are a few different types of towels I found on Amazon to check out:
- Option 1 – A waffle weave towel (for windows, glass, highly absorbent): Armour Car Care Premium Waffle Weave Microfiber Drying Towel
- Option B – Drying towel (anytime you make contact with the paint) – The Rag Company 490 GSM Plush Drying Towel
- Option C – Microfiber Wash Mit (for applying soap) – Meguiar’s X3002 Micofiber Wash Mitt
- Option D – Microfiber Dash Duster (great for hard to reach places, removing dust particles prior to cleaning) – Relentless Drive Ultimate Dash Duster
Most Cars or Vehicles: Chamois or Towels
In general (unless you are a professional detailer) I would recommend a good middle-tier multipurpose microfiber towel to get started. These you can usually pick up in packs 3-4 and really do a pretty good job for most applications.
From personal experience, the cheaper 10-12 pack towels (for $5) you probably want to stay away from, because they are not as soft and aren’t great for drying. I have bought cheaper plush cotton towels, but they tend to leave white residue all over the surface, so keep that in mind.
Chamois I use all the time, because they are probably the quickest way to soak up water when used properly.
- Leather Chamois – These are what most chamois used to be made of, but absorb far less water than synthetic chamois
- Synthetic Chamois – The one I have is the CleanTools Absorber that works great. I see these everywhere, and are a good option for most vehicles.
Fleets, Bikes, or Some Personal Vehicles: Car Blowers
If you’re looking for the most efficient option of simply removing beads of water, a blower is a great option, as long as you get one powerful enough.
There are a couple of options to choose from that are made specifically for drying cars and motorcycles that you can try out, but it depends on your needs.
Good commercial option: Metro Vaccum Air Force Blaster – Some have called this little thing a tornado in a can, which I am pretty eager to try out. It’s among the top commercial auto blowers you can buy, and a great compact option for pros.
Good general purpose option: For general purpose use, I honestly recommend just a good electric leaf blower over a gas powered for power.
- If you want portability and aren’t detailing many cars, a cordless blower that runs off of a battery like the Echo 58V handheld pictured above is a solid choice. A bit more expensive, but a really nice option for home use.
- The Worx Turbine you can also pick up for around 50 bucks on Amazon the last time I checked and is a cheaper corded option.
It really comes down to personal preference for most people, but give a few of these products a try to see what works the best for you and your budget.
Avoiding streaking and water spots also has a lot to do with the types of products you use to clean your vehicle with, but the right drying equipment is definitely a big part of the equation.