You’re probably not thinking it while washing your car, but how you dry the finish is extremely important to its overall luster. A bad mistake and you could be left with minor scratches or waterspots. Even something as simple as the towel you use makes a huge difference, and unfortunately a lot of resources out there have misled car enthusiasts to believe inferior products work better than those specifically designed for automotive finishes. Don’t let misinformation get the best of you – follow these dos and don’ts of drying your car and finish off your next car wash the right way…
Dampen your towel
A slightly damp microfiber drying towel wicks water better than a dry microfiber towel. Additionally, the damp towel significantly reduces surface friction between itself and the surface, creating a safer more effective drying procedure. All you have to do is lightly saturate the towels and dry them 5-10 minutes until they’re no longer dripping wet.
Drive a little
You know how dogs shake themselves dry after a swim? The idea here is that you do the same thing with your car. There’s no way to stick your hand behind your side mirror or into the many cracks and crevices that exist on modern automobiles. To combat this, simply take the car out of the driveway (or down the street) and drive it right back up. You’ll see streaks fall from windows, trim, even your license plates. You can complete the procedure by towel drying the water that drips out.
Use pressurized air
Pressurized air is your best friend when it comes to car drying, especially when you’re dealing with tricky areas like windshield wipers, running boards, and gas caps. Even if it’s those $5 cans at an office supply store, pressurized air can make your life much, much easier if you make it a part of your drying procedure.
Use cotton towels
Cotton terry towels leave lint, don’t absorb well, and are potentially harmful to your paintwork. Towels like these are not to be used on your vehicle’s exterior finish unless you’re comfortable with hairline scratches and streaks. Plain and simple: stay away from cotton towels unless you’re cleaning your engine. Microfiber is a much safer and more effective solution.
Use chamois or ShamWows
We’ve already explained why chamois are terrible for your car, but in case you missed it I’ll give you one of the main idea. Chamois and ShamWows drag across the surface – this is never a good idea. If you were to get a microscopic piece of gravel or dust trapped under that towel, you can kiss your finish goodbye (see diagram). Stick to microfiber.
Don’t let your car sit out in the sun to dry. If you do, you’re begging for waterspots. Waterspots are basically mineral deposits left by water and often appear crusted on the surface. The hardened sediment can cause problems if you try to remove it without a detail spray, and in worse cases can begin to etch your paint. Do your car a favor and dry it with microfiber towels the minute you’re done washing.
Becoming a better detailer isn’t tough if you have a proper understanding of process and technique. Drying, like detailing, is simple if you have all the information. And while thousands of people out there are still using chamois and cotton towels, I hope next time you go to dry your car you’ll opt for a dampened microfiber towel and give your car the care it deserves.
Give these tips a try and let us know how it goes, and while you’re at it, share with us your personal tips and tricks that have made you a better detailer!