The Best Car Drying Towels

Give your prized set of wheels the shiny, clean finish it deserves with the best car drying towels.

Best Overall

The Best Car Drying Towels Option: Relentless Drive Large Car Drying Towel (3 Pack)

Relentless Drive Large Car Drying Towel (3 Pack)

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Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Car Drying Towels Option: Green Lifestyle Terry Towels Grade Rags (60 Pack)

Green Lifestyle Terry Towels Grade Rags (60 Pack)

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Upgrade Pick

The Best Car Drying Towels Option: Autofiber Dreadnought Microfiber Car Drying Towel

Autofiber Dreadnought Microfiber Car Drying Towel

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True car enthusiasts and home detailers take pride in every inch of their vehicles. They’re serious about cleaning the interior carpet; they want the windshield and other glass surfaces to sparkle; and they especially insist on a gleaming auto body. If your goal is a spot- and scratch-free shine, washing alone is not enough; you’ve got to remove water from the vehicle’s surface quickly and thoroughly in order to prevent streaks and other imperfections. Fortunately, drying a car by hand is easy if you are properly equipped. This guide will explain the different types of car drying towels and what to look for making your choice.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Relentless Drive Large Car Drying Towel (3 Pack)
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Green Lifestyle Terry Towels Grade Rags (60 Pack)
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Autofiber Dreadnought Microfiber Car Drying Towel
  4. BEST FOR TRUCKS AND SUVS: Chemical Guys Elegant Edgeless Microfiber Towel
  5. BEST FOR CARS: Chemical Guys Professional Grade Microfiber Towel
  6. BEST WEAVE: The Rag Company Dry Me A River
  7. ALSO CONSIDER: KinHwa Scratch Free Auto Detailing Towels
The Best Car Drying Towels Options
Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Car Drying Towel

Drying a freshly bathed car or truck may seem like a simple process, but anyone who’s tried to do it with an old T-shirt or kitchen towel no doubt has wound up frustrated by spots or scratches.

Material 

Perhaps the most important point to consider is the drying towel’s material. There are three main types: cotton, terry cloth, and microfiber.

  • Cotton is a soft, woven fabric. It’s inexpensive, but a flat cotton towel is not typically absorbent enough to dry a vehicle adequately. However, when sewn into waffle weaves, cotton can hold much more water and can get the job done well.
  • Terry cloth is made from loops of soft cotton, giving the towel a ruffled texture. Terry cloth towels are affordable and very absorbent; the downside is they typically leave a little lint behind.
  • Microfiber is a blend of polyester and nylon materials. These towels are highly absorbent and won’t leave any lint behind. They are a bit more expensive than cotton or terry cloth, but the streak-free shine may be worth the price.

Also note that the edges of a drying towel are important. Towels with sharp, hard edges can scratch the car’s finish. Choose edgeless towels, or towels with banded edges (stitches that remain flexible and soft but won’t fray).

Pile Depth

Like carpets, most car drying towels have a pile depth, which is a term referring to their thickness. Pile depth is an important indicator of absorbency, particularly with microfiber and terry cloth towels.

Thicker piles absorb liquid better and hold more water before becoming saturated and ineffective. This means fewer pauses to stop and wring the towel out, which can speed up the job and lead to better results. Thinner towels are less absorbent but often more affordable. Having two or three thin towels on hand often can serve the same purpose as one thicker, plusher towel.

Weave

A weaved pattern can make a car drying towel more effective. Typically, the whole towel has a waffle texture, with small dimpled squares all the way across, save for the ends. The waffle weave gives a towel more surface area, allowing it to absorb and hold onto more water, more quickly.

Size

Bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to giving a car that fresh-from-the-showroom shine. Large towels have more surface area—a good thing in that it allows for more absorption. Larger towels can be unwieldy, but for larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs, a large towel might be the best way to go. Otherwise, you’ll probably need to stop frequently. Small towels can be a pain to wring out over and over, but they can also reach into tight spaces, like those around the grill and headlights. The ideal is to keep a few towels on hand in different sizes for drying large expanses and detailing nooks and crannies.

Our Top Picks

This list includes some of our favorite car drying towels. Only note that we did not include any basic cotton towels in this lineup, simply because cotton is far more likely to scratch clear coat and paint than microfiber or cotton terry cloth.

Best Overall

Relentless Drive Large Car Drying Towel (3 Pack)

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Folks in need of general-purpose car drying towels should look first at Relentless Drive’s Large Car Drying Towel. This set includes a three-pack of towels and a handy shammy. The towels are made from a soft, highly absorbent microfiber fabric that prevents scratching, with a pliable banded edge to provide further protection.

Each towel measures 60 inches long by 24 inches wide. That’s plenty of surface area for absorption, considering the loop texture of the material—arguably too much area. Meanwhile, the shammy is 30 inches long by 12 inches wide, which is indeed a great size for getting into tight places.

Having three large towels at the ready is really ideal for those who like to use separate towels for drying a vehicle’s body and wheels.

Product Specs

  • Type: Microfiber
  • Size: 60 inches long by 24 inches wide
  • Texture: Loops

Pros

  • Extra-large size
  • Soft microfiber material
  • Banded edges
  • Includes 3 towels and a small shammy

Cons

  • May be too large for some users

Get the Relentless Drive car drying towels on Amazon.

Best Bang for the Buck

Green Lifestyle Terry Towels Grade Rags (60 Pack)

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Washing and drying the car absolutely does not need to be an expensive endeavor. Green Lifestyle Terry Towels come in a budget-friendly pack of 60, giving you an ample stock, making it possible to grab a fresh towel whenever one feels saturated or gets dirty.

The towels’ terry cloth loops make them highly absorbent, and their 17-inch by 14-inch size is easy to handle for interior detailing, wheel cleaning, and drying the largest sections of the vehicle exterior.

Our only minor complaint is that these towels have finished edges that could conceivably leave behind small nicks or scratches if you’re not careful while using them.

Product Specs

  • Type: Terry cloth
  • Size: 17 inches long by 14 inches wide
  • Texture: Loops

Pros

  • Economical pack of 60
  • Loops for improved absorbency
  • Cleans and dries a variety of surfaces

Cons

  • Finished edges may scratch if the user works too quickly or aggressively

Get the Green Lifestyle car drying towels on Amazon.

Upgrade Pick

Autofiber Dreadnought Microfiber Car Drying Towel

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At-home detailers who don’t mind spending a little more on a drying cloth will appreciate the Autofiber Dreadnought Microfiber Car Drying Towel. This towel measures 30 inches long by 20 inches wide—an ideal size for drying cars and smaller SUVs in one pass. In fact, the manufacturer claims that one towel can hold an entire gallon of water!

This towel features double-twist loops of microfiber for increased surface area and a thicker, denser, more absorbent mat. The Dreadnought also features a hidden edge, sewn from the inside, to prevent scratches.

While the towels are sold singly, several colors are available for those who prefer to color-code their drying towels. The only drawback is the relatively high price.

Product Specs

  • Type: Microfiber
  • Size: 30 inches long by 20 inches wide
  • Texture: Loops

Pros

  • Double-twist loops for improved surface area
  • Holds up to 1 gallon of water per towel
  • Hidden edge sewn from the inside
  • Several colors available

Cons

  • Pretty pricey for just 1 towel

Get the Autofiber car drying towels on Amazon or Autofiber.

Best for Trucks and SUVs

Chemical Guys Elegant Edgeless Microfiber Towel

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Truck and SUV owners may tire of having to wring out small towels repeatedly throughout the drying process. A large towel like the Chemical Guys Elegant Edgeless Microfiber Towel solves that. This towel is quite big at 51 inches long by 30 inches wide, and it’s made of a soft, absorbent microfiber fabric that prevents scratches and protects paint finishes, not least thanks to the towel’s seamless, laser-cut edges.

Product Specs

  • Type: Microfiber
  • Size: 51 inches long by 30 inches wide
  • Texture: Loops

Pros

  • Large size for trucks and SUVs
  • Soft microfiber fabric
  • Laser-cut edges to prevent scratching

Cons

  • Comes in 2 colors but they must be purchased separately

Get the Chemical Guys Elegant Edgeless car drying towels on Amazon.

Best for Cars

Chemical Guys Professional Grade Microfiber Towel

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Drying a small car, or one that is low to the ground, can be difficult with a large, cumbersome towel. That’s why Chemical Guys makes this six-pack of towels with a footprint of 24 inches by 16 inches, an ideal size for drying the car without touching the ground.

These towels feature a soft microfiber fabric with two fiber lengths for versatility. One side boasts longer fibers for high absorbency while the other has shorter fibers, ideal for buffing wax. Plus, the edges are silk banded, so they won’t scratch paint or clear coat the way finished flat edges can. While the yellow color does show dirt to indicate when it’s time to change the towel, multicolored packs might be desirable for some users—something this kit doesn’t offer.

Product Specs

  • Type: Microfiber
  • Size: 24 inches long by 16 inches wide
  • Texture: Loop

Pros

  • Size is appropriate for cars
  • Convenient 6-pack
  • Silk-banded edges
  • 2 loop lengths

Cons

  • Not available in color-coded packs

Get the Chemical Guys Professional Grade drying towels on Amazon.

Best Weave

The Rag Company Dry Me A River

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Anyone leaning toward a waffle-knit texture for the improved surface area and absorbency should consider The Rag Company’s Dry Me A River towel. This towel features a thick waffle texture designed to absorb more water than a flat-texture towel of the same size (24 inches long by 16 inches wide).

These towels, which are sold in a pack of three, boast a soft microfiber texture as well as satin-banded edges to prevent scratches on clear coat, paint, and wheels. These towels are washable and will continue to get softer with time. Just keep in mind that the size might be a bit too small for trucks and SUVs.

Product Specs

  • Type: Microfiber
  • Size: 24 inches long by 16 inches wide
  • Texture: Waffle

Pros

  • Waffle texture for improved absorbency
  • Comes in a pack of 3
  • Satin-banded edges to prevent scratches

Cons

  • Slightly small for trucks and SUVs

Get The Rag Company car drying towels on Amazon.

Also Consider

KinHwa Scratch Free Auto Detailing Towels

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Home detailers who can never have enough high-quality detailing and drying towels around should keep this set in mind. KinHwa’s Scratch Free Auto Detailing Towels feature a thick waffle texture designed to improve absorbency, and as a pack of three, they’re value minded as well.

Each towel measures 24 inches long by 16 inches wide, which is an excellent size for drying cars and small SUVs. The microfiber texture is soft, and the banded edges will prevent scratches. The only real issue with these towels is that their gray color might conceal dirt, so a careful eye is important.

Product Specs

  • Type: Microfiber
  • Size: 24 inches long by 16 inches wide
  • Texture: Waffle

Pros

  • Waffle-knit texture for improved absorbency
  • Soft microfiber texture and banded edges
  • Comes in a pack of 3

Cons

  • Gray color might hide dirt

Get KinHwa car drying towels on Amazon.

Our Verdict

Folks shopping for a solid, general-purpose car drying towel should consider the Relentless Drive car drying towels. If you don’t mind spending a bit extra for an upgrade in quality, check out these Autofiber car drying towels, notable for their thick pile of double-twist loops and hidden sewn edges.

How We Chose the Best Car Drying Towels

Car enthusiasts are infamously picky about the products they use for care and maintenance, so we called upon our long experience with vehicle washing and detailing to evaluate products. First, we selected products featuring the materials and design features we judge to be most desirable in car drying towels. Then we performed extensive research to identify products meeting our standards. Finaxlly, after comparing materials, price, texture, and other features, we disregarded towels that didn’t offer enough value and ascribed awards to towels with the best balance of design, dimensions, and cost.

Tips for Using Car Drying Towels

Washing the vehicle is only half the battle. Those who truly care about their car and want to create a spot- and scratch-free shine should take the following tips to heart!

  • Wring the towel out often while drying a vehicle. Though it adds a bit of time, it’s crucial to wring the drying towel out frequently during use. A saturated towel is more likely to create streaks and water spots, while even a wet towel that’s been properly wrung out will continue absorbing water.
  • Stop using a towel if it touches the ground. Once a towel touches the ground, stop using it until you can wash it. The dust and dirt that it might pick up act as abrasives, cutting into the clear coat and paint.
  • Color-coded towels for specific parts of the vehicle lessen the chances of scratching the vehicle’s paint. If possible, color-code your car drying towels. Use one color for the vehicle body and another for the wheels. This will lessen the chances of picking up dirt from the ground while also keeping brake dust from grinding into the paint surface.

FAQs

Even with all the intel offered above about the best car drying towels, you might still have some additional questions. Ahead, you’ll find some of the most common questions asked on the topic, so check out our answers for the info you might be seeking.

Q. What is the best thing to dry my car with?

A microfiber towel with banded or hidden edges is typically the best option for drying a freshly washed vehicle.

Q. Can I dry my car with a normal towel?

Normal towels will dry the vehicle, but they’re not as absorbent as a microfiber towel. They’re also much more likely to scratch the paint surface.

Q. How can I dry my car without getting water spots?

Avoid parking a wet car in the direct sun. Dry your freshly washed vehicle as soon as possible using a microfiber cloth. Drying horizontal surfaces like the trunk, roof, and hood first will also stave off water spots, as these surfaces tend to be warmer and dry faster.

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Tom Scalisi

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Tom Scalisi is a freelance writer, author, and blogger with a passion for building. Whether it’s a DIY project or an entire website, Tom loves creating something from the ground up, stepping back, and admiring a job well done.

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