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How to Properly Dry a Car After Washing

The simple act of drying your car after you’ve washed it might not seem like a terribly important one, but, believe us, it is more important than you might think.

You see, washing and drying your car on a regular basis is the one car maintenance activity that offers the most benefit to the aesthetics of your vehicle. If you want to maintain your car’s resale value and keep the paintwork looking as good as new, you’ll pay attention to how you dry it.

towel drying car

Water that is usually used for washing contains natural minerals, and those don’t simply evaporate when you let your vehicle air dry. Sure, your car will eventually be dry, after all the water evaporates, but those minerals will leave a trace.

You will see spots, deposits, and streaks that will make your car look even worse than it did before you washed it. If your car’s paintwork is dark, this will be even more noticeable.

Even worse, in some areas, these mineral deposits in water can also harm your car’s paintwork, because some of those deposits can degrade the paint over time.

4 Solid Ways to Dry Your Vehicle

After you washed your vehicle, let it drip dry for a minute, and then choose one of these four options to dry it thoroughly.

1. Chamois

leather chamois

A Chamois is the most common way to dry your car. To make real chamois, manufacturers use mountain goat or sheep leather. It is soft, absorbent, and completely non-abrasive.

You can also use a synthetic chamois, although they may not be as durable as the real deal. If you go with a synthetic material look for Poly Vinyl Alcohol (PVA). These chamois are made of PVA and are budget-friendly and machine washable.

Start at the top of the vehicle, and work your way down. Throw the chamois over the flat surfaces and gently pull it toward you across them. If you want to avoid streaking, fold your chamois into a square, and wipe.

The trick to using a chamois to dry your car is to use it slightly damp, never completely dry.

2. Cloth Lint-Free Diapers

This option might seem strange but bear with us. This is a trick that professional detailers use.

You start with a diaper in each hand, and you use your leading hand to wipe off most of the water. After you did that, follow it with your other hand to dry the section completely. When the leading hand diaper becomes too wet, use the other one as a lead, and take a fresh diaper for your other hand. When you’re done with the bodywork, take a fresh diaper to dry off the glass, and we guarantee there will be no water stains.

About 5-8 diapers will be necessary to dry your car properly. After you’re done with it, wash them for the next time.

3. Microfiber Dryer Towel

microfiber drying towels

So, if you don’t like using previous options, you might prefer this. It will not scratch or leave swirl marks on your car, they are amazingly absorbent, and have no lint. If you’re looking for a budget option, Chemical Guys microfiber towels are about as good as it gets.

Microfiber drying towels are the key to drying your car quickly, and without leaving any streaks. Just dampen the towel lightly before you start. Start with the roof, go over flat surfaces, and then move on to cracks and crevices.

4. Pressurized Air

air drying car

If you hate spending a lot of time on car maintenance, or you never manage to dry it perfectly with any of the previous methods, we have a solution. Pressurized air will be your new best friend for car drying purposes.

After you wash your car, rinse it with medium water pressure coming out of the hose. Just let the water flow freely over the surface. After you’re done with that, give it a minute or two, and then take the can of pressurized air. It will dry the bodywork quickly, and help you deal with areas such as running boards, gas caps, and windshield wipers.

This neat little thing can make your life a lot easier, and car-drying much faster.

Dry your car using one of these four ways, and we can guarantee that it will look as amazing as it did the day you bought it.

Richard Reed
I've been a General Manager of a moving company and I've also been a Professional Mover for over 30 years. I've driven flat beds, reefers, dropdecks, moving vans, heavy machinery, etc. In my time as a Mover I've driven over 1,000,000 safe miles. My days of moving and driving truck are past me but The Vehicle Lab allows me to share the knowledge I've gained over the past 40 years.

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