What’s the Best Way to Dry a Car?
Drying your car can often be an afterthought when washing your car. Most people focus on getting their car clean while washing and are not aware of the importance of drying their car properly.
Drying your car using the wrong methods or materials can cause water spots and even scratches! To help you avoid these common problems this guide will explain the best way to dry a car by hand or using air.
This is the most common method used to dry a car, but many people are doing it wrong!
Improper drying is one of the biggest causes of car scratches because there is little lubrication between the towel and the car’s paint.
In addition, many people are also using the wrong materials are often abrasive and cause scratches.
The best way to dry a car by hand is using a large microfiber drying towel and following the steps below.
The Best Way to Dry a Car By Hand
Ensure the car’s surface is completely clean. If dirt becomes trapped between the towel and the dry surface of the car, it can easily scratch the paint.
Glide the towel across the surface of the car in a straight line. By drying in a straight line, you will minimize the visibility of scratches if they occur. Scratches can never be fully prevented, so you should take action to minimize potential damage.
Optional – Use a Drying Aid. This will help lubricate the surface to avoid scratches and make drying easier. Read my full review of Turtle Wax’s drying aid here.
Dry the car starting from the top
Always dry in a straight line
Use a proper drying towel
Use a drying aid to lubricate the surface
This method of drying a car isn’t very common but is extremely simple and can be another great way to avoid scratches and water spots.
Using an air compressor or leaf blower, air dry the car starting from the top.
Air-drying is a safe option for drying your car. In addition, it can get water out of cracks and crevices which can’t be done by hand-drying
Drying your car with an air compressor or leaf blower is especially easy for cars coated in wax, as the water will slide right off!
Although air-drying is one of the best ways to dry a car, there are also some disadvantages you should consider.
If you’re car isn’t already waxed, it may be more difficult to remove all the water from the vehicle.
Furthermore, if you have an older car with sensitive or flaking paint, compressed air could remove some paint from the surface if done incorrectly.
What’s the Best Towel to Dry a Car?
There are many different opinions on which materials should be used to dry the surface of your car, but many of them are abrasive and can damage the paint. Read the section below for more information about this.
The best towel to dry a car is a large, microfiber drying towel.
Microfiber is soft and safe to use on the car’s surface. In addition, it contains many fibers which will trap leftover dirt in the towel to help prevent it from touching and scratching the paint.
I recommend this extra plush, large microfiber towel from Chemical Guys. It’s 36” X 25” which makes it SUPER easy to dry your car quick!
This will help reduce water spots since it will take less time to dry. Read below for more information about water spots.
What You Shouldn’t Use to Dry Your Car
Now that you know what you should use to dry your car, you may be curious about these other common materials that people use to dry cars.
Although they are commonly used, they can cause loads of damage to your car’s paint!
A chamois is one of the most commonly used materials to dry a car besides a microfiber towel. They are popular due to their highly-absorbent properties.
Although they can absorb lots of water, they don’t stay as soft as microfiber towels over time.
Most importantly, there are no fibers to lift dirt off the surface of the car like a microfiber towel.
This means that leftover dirt will become stuck directly between the towel and the paint, which can scratch it as you continue to dry the car.
Another way some people choose to dry their cars is using a squeegee.
Although a squeegee will force all the water off the paint, if a single particle of dirt becomes trapped in the squeegee it will easily fill your paint with scratches.
No one is perfect at washing their car, so it is common to encounter a few missed dirt particles. This means it’s easy to scratch your paint when using a squeegee.
3. Paper Towels
Paper towels are definitely one of the worst materials to dry your car with, as they will cause insane amounts of damage.
Your car’s paint is very sensitive. Paper towels essentially act as sandpaper against your paint.
I have seen this on several cars in which people quickly clean a spot on their car (such as a gasoline spill). This results in an extremely faded surface which is very easy to spot afterwards.
How Do You Dry a Car Without Leaving Water Spots?
To dry a car without leaving water spots, you must get rid of the water before it air dries.
Here are some tips to help achieve this:
Park in the shade or inside a garage before washing your car, as sunlight will quickly evaporate water.
Work quickly to ensure the water doesn’t have the chance to evaporate.
Start by drying areas of the car where water spots would be most visible, such as the hood.
What Causes Water Spots on a Car?
You already know that water spots appear when water evaporates on the surface of your car, but why does this happen?
Water spots are caused by minerals or dirt being left behind when the water evaporates.
When the water evaporates, the minerals or any dirt/pollutants within the water have nowhere to go, therefore they are left behind on your paint, leaving water spots.
Drying your car properly without leaving water behind prevents these minerals from being left on the surface, as they are picked up by the microfiber towel.