Any good car washing guide is going to tell you to dry your car after washing it.
What they don’t tell you is that drying your car properly is just as important as washing your car properly.
While I don’t have the stats to back it up, I’d imagine that there are just as many people with defects on their paint from poor drying technique as there is from a poor washing technique.
Throughout this article, I will tell you why you should dry your car after each wash, what tools you can use to speed up the drying process, useful drying aids, detailing sprays and how to dry your car using microfibre cloths.
Why Dry your car
It’s widely known that you need to dry your car after washing it.
The reasons behind washing your car are straightforward, simple and are known by everyone. Ask someone why they should dry their car and they’ll look at you like a deer stuck in headlights.
It’s understandable why you wouldn’t want to dry your vehicle, you’ve just made the effort of washing it and now the thought of drying it seems like a chore.
I believe that your car is not “clean” until you have finished drying it.
Unfortunately, if you leave it to air dry, the hour or so you just spent washing it is now wasted and you’ve just created a lot more work for yourself.
Just like washing dishes, if you leave the car alone to dry, it’ll be prone to water spots.
Water spots are ugly stains that are very noticeable, they often carry leftover traces of chemicals, dirt or minerals.
While you are able to remove water spots, they can be very stubborn, you’ll probably have to resort to using a clay bar and may even need to cut and polish the vehicle.
Leaving water spots on your vehicle will not only result in your car looking ugly, but some are also corrosive and will eat away at your cars clear coat and paint.
Why would you put your paint at risk to save yourself from 10 minutes of drying?
When drying your car it’s important you use the right tools.
Don’t bother trying to use bathroom towels, bed sheets, underwear, paper towels or anything like that. They may seem effective but they’ll most likely damage your paint and you’ll look like a mug in the process.
Microfibre cloths – These are by far the most common towels used on cars whether it’s washing or drying. You cannot go wrong using and owning many of these.
Microfibre cloths are soft enough not to damage your paint and absorbent enough to dry your car efficiently. You’ll probably need to use 2 or 3 of them to dry your car properly depending on the size but they’re very affordable.
When buying cloths make sure they have rolled edges and no obnoxious labels that could affect the paint.
Microfibre cloths work best when paired up with a drying aid or detailing spray.
Electric Leaf Blower – This is something that has recently gained traction. It’s a bit mad scientist but it’s safe, efficient and overall seems to work well. You may look like a complete idiot to your neighbors, but you will be able to dry your car a lot quicker. Who’s the real winner?
Admittedly, unless you already own one or are a professional detailer, it’s a big investment for something you may only use for 10 minutes bi-weekly or monthly.
Don’t use chamois leather. Chamois was the go-to car dryer in the past, it was extremely effective and absorbed water with ease.
The main issue with chamois is that it’s an animal rawhide. It’s not made specifically for washing cars and while it was effective, it was also very dangerous.
Because of how leather is made up, any stray dirt left on your car after washing would get stuck between the chamois leather and your car. As a result, you were dragging dirt all over the panel creating lots of micro scratches.
Chamois is also a lot harder than microfibre cloths so if you were to drag it across the panel without the slightest bit of lubrication it would potentially cause scratching itself.
If you have been using chamois without issue feel free to keep using it. Just remember you’re increasing the likelihood of creating scratches on your clear coat.
Using Drying Aids and Detailing sprays
It’s never a good idea to touch your panels without lubrication, even when using microfibre towels. As a result, you will want to dampen the cloth with water or use a drying aid.
The most popular drying aid is Optimum No Rinse but any quick detailer or waterless carwash product will do a similar job.
These products listed above are supposed to clean, shine and protect your car all in one. It’s definitely beneficial to use them as a drying aid.
Do exactly what the product instructions tell you to do as it’s easy to misuse them and end up with a streaky finish!
how to dry a car with a microfiber towel
Like washing your car, you should start off drying your car at the top, working your way down. If you were to start at the bottom and do the top last, you’d just create more work for yourself.
When drying your car you will need to use multiple microfibre cloths. Again, similar to washing a car, if the cloth gets dirty you will need to flip it over and eventually swap it for a clean one.
Push down enough on the cloth to guide it. Apply too much pressure and you significantly increase the chance of marring your paint.
Once you have done the exterior panels make sure you dry the door jams and other crevices. Some cars are notorious for rusting in certain areas, do some research ahead of time and make sure that you dry said area after each wash.
Finally, you can dry the alloys and tires. I only do this on other peoples cars, I personally don’t care for my alloys too much. They’re matt black and the previous owner curbed them constantly but I cannot justify paying the repair price.