Chamois vs Microfibre Towel: What’s Best for Drying Your Car?

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We all know how important it is to dry your car after washing it (if you don’t – read this), but you’re probably wondering whether it’s best to use a chamois or a microfibre cloth?

Although a chamois tends to be more durable, a microfibre cloth is a better tool for drying a car as it’s easier to use and less likely to cause damage to your vehicle. Microfibre cloths are usually cheaper than chamois and are quicker to dry as well.

In the rest of this article, we’ll look at the key differences between the two.

What is a Chamois?

In its traditional form, a chamois is a leather material made from the skin of mountain goat called a chamois. It is popularly used to dry and shine the exterior of a vehicle. The use of Chamois has been passed down from generations and it is favoured by professional car cleaners and detailers.

However, in recent years, manufacturers of chamois cloths have moved towards using sheep skin or synthetic materials for those users who are against the use of animal skin

Benefits of Using a Chamois

Here are the benefits of using a chamois cloth to dry the exterior of a car:

It’s a natural product which means that no chemicals or artificial fibres are used in the production.
It’s highly absorbent, so ideal for quickly and gently drying moist exteriors.
It doesn’t leave a streaky finish, so it’s perfect for giving a professional looking finish to a wash.
Chamois can last a long time. Car professionals like to use this drying cloth because of its reliability and durability.

Drawbacks of using a Chamois

Although there are positives of using a Chamois for quick drying purposes, a number of drawbacks have been highlighted:

It must be dampened before use. This might sound counter intuitive, but it softens the cloth, so it glides along the paint work instead of being dry and rough and causing scratches and unsightly smears. Not wetting it can cause damage to the paintwork.
It can’t be washed in a washing machine, as special precautions need to be taken to effectively wash a Chamois. Any form of soap shouldn’t be used to wash a Chamois, because the soap can affect the quality of the skin and it may also transmit onto the vehicle.
They are more expensive than buying a microfibre drying cloth, but they may last longer.
Even though it needs to be damp to be used correctly, you cannot leave the Chamois damp after use, it needs to be hung and dried, so the original texture and quality is restored.

Does a Chamois Scratch Paint?

This is a popular question among those considering buying a chamois but often with mixed answers.

If a Chamois is used correctly and special care taken, then it won’t damage your paintwork and can be a very effective tool. However, fail to clean and store it well or have the wrong technique, it will almost certainly cause problems.

A Chamois should always be dampened before use, otherwise it becomes stiff and requires more force to move which could cause paintwork damage. You should also be careful that the chamois is free of dirt before using it, this is why it must be kept in a sealed container when not in use so that it doesn’t collect particles.

However, if a Chamois is used correctly, so its hung to dry after every use and it is dampened before use, it has a lessened chance of scratching the paint.

What is a Microfibre Drying Towel?

A microfibre drying towel is a modern material of towel used to dry vehicles after washing. They are really absorbent thanks to thousands of finely woven fibres which are made from the synthetic materials polyester and polyamide giving them durability.

A microfibre towel is more finely woven than typical cotton towels that become saturated when wet. As all the small fibres come in to contact with your car, they quickly absorb the water and pick up any tiny dirt particles too.

The use of microfibre material is popular in the car cleaning and detailing world, this is the because the delicate fibres do not scratch or cause any harm to paintwork or any exterior material of a vehicle.

Benefits of Microfibre Drying Towel

These are the key advantages of using a microfibre drying towel as opposed to a chamois:

Quickly and safely dry your vehicle, there is little possibility of doing it wrong.
Microfibre towels are not made by using any body part of an animal, so it’s a more ethical way of making a high quality drying towel.
The microfibres absorb any dirt or grit which is left on the paintwork after washing, so it doesn’t move the dirt around and scratch the paintwork.
Microfibre cloths or towels can be washed in the washing machine, unlike chamois, so this is an easier option for those who don’t want to spend time delicately washing and drying a chamois.
This type of drying towel is also considerably cheaper than a Chamois.

Drawbacks of Microfibre Drying Towel

Now to take a look at the main disadvantages of a microfibre towel for drying your car:

They are not eco-friendly, even though we have mentioned previously that microfibre towels are more ethical than traditional chamois because they aren’t derived from animals, there are still lots of chemicals used in the production of microfibre material.
The cheaper the microfibre drying towel, the worse quality they seem to be.
Chamois typically last longer than a microfibre drying towel, because of the differences in materials.
The microfibre material is highly flammable, so caution needs to be taken when using the towels.

So, Which is Best?

Needless to say, both a microfibre towel and a chamois will be effective to clean your car and both are better than a typical cotton towel or cloth.

Professional detailers tend to prefer a chamois, this is because they are more durable and can stand up to the constant use. As chamois have been used for many generations, it may also be the go-to method they were taught. However, for most users, a microfibre cloth or towel will be a better tool to dry your vehicle.

Microfibre towels are are just as absorbent as chamois leathers, however they tend to dry much quicker and are overall easier to use. You do not have to worry about keeping the towel moist as you do with a chamois and they tend to glide across the surface much more smoothly.

Finally, there is the cost consideration. Although a chamois may last longer, they are more expensive to purchase in the first place. On this front, both are quite similar.