The Best Car Drying Towels of 2022

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

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Sep 7, 2022 3:08 PM

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The Best Car Drying Towels Option

Photo: amazon.com

True car enthusiasts and home detailers take pride in every inch of their vehicles. They’re serious about cleaning the interior carpet, want the windshield and other glass surfaces to sparkle, and especially insist on a body that gleams in the sun. But 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. Fortunately, drying a car by hand is easy—with the best car drying towel, that is. This guide will explain the different types of car drying towels and what to look for when choosing one product over another.

  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 Option

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 so with an old T-shirt or household towel no doubt has wound up frustrated by spots or scratches. Ahead, find some of the most important factors and features to keep in mind when shopping for the best car drying towel, including material and size.

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 often used for towels. It’s inexpensive, but a flat cotton towel is not typically absorbent enough to dry a vehicle adequately, and it can leave pesky lint behind. However, when sewn into waffle weaves, cotton can hold much more water and accomplish the task of drying a car.
  • Terry cloth is made from loops of soft cotton, giving the towel a ruffled texture. Terry cloth towels are affordable and very absorbent, but they will typically leave 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. Instead, choose edgeless towels (those without any stitching or finishing) or 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 refers to the thickness of the loops. This is especially true for microfiber and terry cloth towels. Pile depth is an important determinant of absorbency.

Towels with thicker piles absorb liquid better and hold more water before becoming ineffective. This means the user will have to stop and wring the towel out less often, allowing them to dry the car much faster. Thinner towels are obviously less absorbent but often more affordable, so having two or three of them on hand 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 more water quicker and hold onto it longer before becoming too saturated to dry. This can be a huge boost for drying efficacy, especially when it comes to removing those droplets before the sun bakes them on.

Size

It might seem that the larger the towel, the greater its ability to dry, but bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to giving a car that fresh-from-the-showroom shine. Large towels have more surface area than smaller ones, and this allows them to absorb water faster and hold onto it longer. However, large towels can be unwieldy. While drying the side of a vehicle, a large towel can accidentally touch the ground, pick up dirt and rocks, and grind them into the clear coat—so much for bright and shiny.

However, for larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs, a large towel might be the best way to go. Otherwise, the user will have to stop frequently during the drying process to wring out a small towel, which could become nearly ineffective before the end of the job. While small towels can be a pain to wring out constantly, they can often reach tight spaces, like those around the grill and headlights, more easily. Ideally, a car enthusiast may want to have a few towels on hand for drying large expanses and detailing nooks and crannies.

Our Top Picks

That’s a lot of information on the best car drying towels, and it might still feel a bit overwhelming to choose one product over another. The following list should help, as it includes some of the top-performing products for drying cars to a spotless finish. Keep the top considerations in mind when comparing these towels.

Note: We didn’t include any basic cotton towels in this lineup because cotton is far more likely to scratch clear coat and paint than microfiber or cotton terry cloth.

Best Overall

The Best Car Drying Towels Option: Relentless Drive Large Car Drying Towel (3 Pack)
Photo: amazon.com

Folks looking for car drying towels that can handle most situations should consider Relentless Drive’s Large Car Drying Towel. The set includes a three-pack of towels plus a handy shammy. The towels are made from a soft, highly absorbent microfiber fabric that prevents scratching, with a pliable banded edge that further staves off scratches.

Each towel measures 60 inches long by 24 inches wide, providing plenty of surface area when combined with the loop texture. The shammy is 30 inches long by 12 inches wide, and it’s great for getting into tight places. Having three large towels at the ready is ideal for those who like to use separate towels for drying a vehicle’s body and wheels. The only downside is that these towels are so large that it may be tricky to keep them from touching the ground while drying.

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

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

Drying the car doesn’t need to break the bank! Green Lifestyle Terry Towels come in a budget-friendly pack of 60, allowing users to switch to 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 vehicle. Our only caveat is that these towels have finished edges that could potentially scratch, so it’s important to work slowly and carefully when drying the vehicle’s body.

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

The Best Car Drying Towels Option: Autofiber Dreadnought Microfiber Car Drying Towel
Photo: amazon.com

At-home detailers who don’t mind spending a little more on a drying cloth to get that ideal shiny finish may 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 mat. The Dreadnought also features a hidden edge, sewn from the inside to prevent scratches. And 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 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

The Best Car Drying Towels Option: Chemical Guys Elegant Edgeless Microfiber Towel
Photo: amazon.com

Truck and SUV owners may tire of wringing out small towels after drying every body panel. For those situations, a large towel like the Chemical Guys Elegant Edgeless Microfiber Towel may be just the ticket. This towel measures 51 inches long by 30 inches wide, providing enough surface area to dry a large vehicle in much fewer wrings.

This towel is made of a soft microfiber fabric to help prevent scratching clear coat and paint finishes. Also, the design features laser-cut edges to prevent scratches or rough rubbing. This towel is available in black or white for users who want to color code between a body towel and a wheel towel.

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

The Best Car Drying Towels Option: Chemical Guys Professional Grade Microfiber Towel
Photo: amazon.com

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 Best Car Drying Towels Option: The Rag Company Dry Me A River
Photo: amazon.com

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

The Best Car Drying Towels Option: KinHwa Scratch Free Auto Detailing Towels
Photo: amazon.com

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 large towel with banded edges to prevent scratches should consider the Relentless Drive car drying towels. Those who don’t mind spending a bit extra might prefer the Autofiber car drying towels for their thick pile of double-twist loops and hidden sewn edges.

How We Chose the Best Car Drying Towels

Folks who love their cars can be picky about the products they use, and rightfully so. We wanted to ensure that the drying towels we suggested would get the job done without damaging paint or clear coat, so we called upon our vast experience with vehicle washing and detailing to evaluate products.

First, we chose the features and materials we thought were most important. Then we performed extensive product research to come up with a list of towels we felt might meet our expectations. After comparing materials, price, texture, and other features, we disregarded towels that didn’t offer enough value and gave awards to those that did.

Tips for Using Car Drying Towels

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

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.

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.

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.

  • Wring the towel out often while drying a vehicle.
  • Stop using a towel if it touches the ground.
  • Color-coded towels for specific parts of the vehicle lessen the chances of scratching the vehicle’s paint.

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.