Car Drying Chamois Or Microfiber? (Avoid Scratches)

Image Credit: RossHelen via Envato Elements

Image Credit: RossHelen via Envato Elements

Car Drying Chamois Or Microfiber? (Avoid Scratches)


You know it’s important to dry your car after a car wash to avoid water spots. Bath towels can scratch your car’s paint. Using either a chamois cloth or microfiber towels for absorbing water from your car surface is more effective and safer.

Even the most thorough car wash can leave dirt particles behind. The question is, which drying towel deals with dirt particles better to prevent causing fine scratches in your clear coat?

Let’s dive into the details.

Car Drying Chamois Or Microfiber?

A microfiber car drying towel, especially one that is waffle weave, is the best choice of drying towel. Microfiber towels provide better protection against scratching. Microfiber is also capable of absorbing a larger volume of water, making drying more efficient.

It’s important to not allow a wet car to air dry to avoid water spots, especially if you have to work in direct sunlight. A chamois cloth or microfiber car drying towel will both absorb water quickly when you need dry your car after a car wash. But microfiber towels will always win out.

Chamois Drying Towel

Chamois drying towels were quite popular as a super-absorbent alternative to a less absorbent cotton drying towel. Chamois cloth is amazingly absorbent but it does not have the protective snap of microfiber towels.

A great feature of a chamois, other than the amazing absorbency, is the ease with which you can ring it out and have it nearly instantly ready to reabsorb more water. Microfiber can be wrung out as well but wringing out a chamois is quicker and easier than a microfiber towel which helps keep you moving. 

Simply wringing out a microfiber towel only restores some of the absorbency of the microfiber and it looses some of it’s protective abilities when the nap lays flat after getting wet.

Chamois will dry out between uses and need to be rehydrated to soften them back up. They become surprisingly rigid and you want to avoid having them come into contact with your car’s paint until you’ve softened them up.


Natural Vs Synthetic

Chamois Drying Towel

A natural chamois is made from real leather and is very absorbent. Synthetic chamois is typically made from rayon or vinyl material.

Natural leather chamois is very absorbent but not as absorbent as a synthetic chamois. The synthetic material is designed to maximize absorbency.

Synthetic chamois are more fabric-like and don’t dry out when not in use. They also don’t need to be moistened before use.

Is Chamois Good For Drying Cars?

Both synthetic and natural chamois are good choices for drying your car, but microfiber drying towels are safer for preventing light scratches in your finish.

If you want to try using a chamois I suggest finding one that is a natural leather and has been buffed or sueded to provide a nap that can create some protection from causing swirl marks in your clear coat.

Synthetic chamois are more absorbent. There may be some synthetics that have a nap designed into the weave. These designs would also be a good choice.


How To Use A

Chamois Drying Towel

Natural Chamois

To use a natural chamois, it must first be moistened to soften it and prevent it from potentially causing scratches or swirl marks. Natural chamois dries out when not in use and is very rigid.

Once rehydrated, wring it out thoroughly and begin wiping up excess water on your car’s surface. Wring out as needed as you continue drying your car. Continue until your entire vehicle has been completely dried.

Some people like to use a chamois wringer bucket attachment to make wringing them out easier and quicker.

Synthetic Chamois

To use a synthetic chamois, you don’t need to worry about hydrating it. You can simply begin using it to dry your car.

Just like a natural chamois, the synthetic material will need wringing out to complete the job. They’re also quite easy to wring out by hand but a wringer is still handy to speed up the process.

Why You Shouldn’t Use A Chamois?

Both synthetic and natural chamois either lack any protective nap to help prevent scratching or the nap is generally much less protective than that of microfiber.

Microfiber Towels

The best towel to dry your car or truck is are microfiber towels. The reason for this is the protective nap that the microfibers provide. The microscopic fibers will capture dirt and harsh particles and prevent them from being ground into the clear coat and causing scratches in the finish.

Drying your car with microfiber is best done with waffle weave towels. Waffle weave improves absorbency and makes drying much quicker.

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Are Microfiber Cloths Good For Drying Cars?

A waffle weave microfiber towel is the best drying towel to dry your car. Waffle weave is the superior absorption design for microfiber drying towels.

Microfiber also has a protective nap that a chamois can’t match. Other towels will risk scratching your finish.

Microfiber is also amazing at absorbing water left on your paintwork after a car wash. The only real downside is that wringing them out isn’t as ideal as using a fresh towel. Using large microfiber towels or multiple towels will help overcome this disadvantage.

How To Dry A Car With A Microfiber Towel

Take your microfiber drying towel and start from the top of your car or truck and gently wipe up the excess water.

Microfiber is best when used starting with dry towels. This means you’ll likely want a few drying towels, especially for large vehicles. You can wring out your towels but the protective effects of the microfibers will be diminished when the fibers of the towels are wet.

You can dry your car with a typical microfiber towel or a waffle weave drying towel, but waffle weave will be quicker and more efficient.

Do Microfiber Cloths Scratch Cars?

Microfiber drying towels are the safest towel to use when physically touching your exterior paint. The microfiber cloth will trap particles in the nap and keeps the dirt particles from as easily being ground into the car’s finish.

Microfiber are great towels and the best choice you can make for drying your car with a towel. Any time you physically touch the surface of your vehicle you run the risk of causing light scratches and swirls. Even the safest and plushest microfiber can still cause scratches.


Best Way To Dry A Car Without Scratching

A drying towel seems like the obvious choice for drying your car or truck after a car wash. The truth is that even a microfiber towel can cause scratches.

The best way to dry a car without scratching is to not physically touch the finish. That means using a car air dryer or even a leaf blower.

Allowing your vehicle to air dry can cause water spots, but using forced air to push water off of the surface and out of cracks and crevices is extremely effective. Using a forced air all but eliminates the chance you’ll cause any swirl marks or light scratches.

You will still need to use caution with a leaf blower. You want to be sure to avoid kicking up rocks and debris from the ground near your car or truck. That would be almost the only way you could cause scratches when using forced air to dry your finish.


Letting your car or truck air dry can cause water spots and using a cotton towel can leave scratches. A chamois or microfiber drying towels are the most popular choices of purpose-designed car drying towels.

Chamois is a good choice but not the best. They are less protective since they typically have no protective nap. Some sueded or buffed chamois will have some nap to it that can offer some protection, but nearly as much as microfiber towels.

If you have a personal preference toward chamois, be sure to use one that has at least some nap to it to help trap a few particles and help reduce the chance of scratching the clear coat.

A microfiber towel is a much safer choice. The more protective micro fibers are significantly more protective than any other product you could use when coming into physical contact with your finish.

Good luck and happy detailing.

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