It’s tempting to skip drying your car after washing and rinsing. It will dry on its own, but unless you have a filtered water supply, the paint will be covered in stains.
The professional solution is a blower, which minimizes the number of touches to the car and shifts all the water trapped in the handles and panel openings, but it’s not cheap – or fast.
A dry towel is the ideal solution for most of us, as microfibre dominates the sector and has squeezed out the traditional “chamois” chamois leather.
But which one makes drying your car a cinch instead of a chore? It took eight of us to find out.
How we tested them
Drying towels are now mostly all microfibre, but there is a huge choice of sizes, weaves and pile. Our focus was on ease of use, first place the canvas on a wet panel and cover it. We noticed progress in dry and wet conditions before moving on to wipe the side of our pickup.
After wiping, we checked how easily each cloth was wrung out, and weighed them dry, then soak and drain after 15 seconds to assess absorbency. Finally, we took into account the price of creators and online resources.
It may be Armor All’s first win in this test, but clearly this is a rebrand of our sister brand Kent series winner. A competitive price and great ease of use seal the victory. But it was close with the super easy-to-use Instadry, which uses smart technology to get just about everything right, aside from the cost. The well-priced large towel from Angelwax is in third place.
- Armor All Extra Large Dry Towel
- Autoglym Instadry
- Angelwax large drying towel
Armor All Extra Large Dry Towel
Rebranding aside, this is a repeat of our 2020 test result, with the cost-effective yellow towel adorning the smart Instadry. The secret to the success of Amor All is the short-pile, single-layer microfibre, which is easy to work with and leaves only a thin film of water that dries quickly. It takes more than six times its own weight, but it never gets too heavy to handle and it’s easy to bundle in your hand. Top performance for a competitive price.
A small price increase since our last test doesn’t do the Instadry any good, but a similar increase for Armor All means it’s still about three times the price of our winner. It remains the easiest solution to dry your car, it leaves a very fine layer of moisture on the body (which disappears quickly) and it never gets heavy. When it fills with water, a quick wring gets it back to work, thanks to that clever PVA-coated microfibre. Our choice for money-no-object.
Angelwax large drying towel
Our choice of the larger towels, thanks to a combination of enormous thirst, absorbing more than five times its own weight and ease of use. With its impressive absorbency, the towel inevitably gets heavy, but it’s one of the easiest of the larger options to wring out, thanks to its relatively short pile. His sweep was matched by similar rivals and a step behind our top two, but a competitive price – under a tenner – completed the podium.
Mammoet Hybrid Twist
We’ve had good results with Mammoth microfibers before and this is one of the best larger towel packs. It is one of several variants in the Hybrid Twist range, which combines twisted fibers with short-pile microfibres, creating lawn-like stripes. The idea is that less pressure is needed to absorb water. It was one of the best in the dry resistance test, vacuuming nearly six times its own weight in the weekly test. But it’s big and hard to wring, hurting the overall score.
Gyeon Q2M Silk Dryer
The SilkDryer uses twisted fiber technology, which Gyeon says pioneered in 2015, to maximize water absorption. It managed to take up almost five times its own weight and proved effective when dry in the resistance test. The single-ply cloth with a short pile on one side wasn’t as good when wet and a bit of a handful when drying vertical panels, thanks to its generous 70x90cm size. Despite this, the relatively thin material was easy to wring.
Car Gods 54 Nike
- Price: about £22
- Rating: 3.5 stars
- Contact: cargods.com
Waffle weave towels are often easy to use, thanks to their lack of bulk, and this one was no exception. It was also good to wring out a 60×90 cm towel. The trade-off is water absorption and this was one of the worst during the test, at just four times its own weight. It was one of the better towels in the drag test and easy to work on the doors of our test pickup, but it quickly filled with water. The biggest problem, however, is a doubling of the price since 2020.
Dodo Juice Dry Hard
We’re fans of much of Dodo Juice’s range, but the towels rarely hit the spot. There’s no question about the quality of this double-layer towel, which uses twisted loop microfiber technology to hold up more water than any other towel, yet it only absorbed just over four times its weight. And that’s our problem: The Dry Hard is great for drag drying and covers a large area thanks to its 60x90cm size, but it’s hard work holding and wringing vertical panels.
Detailers World Hydro Hoover XL
This Hydro Hoover is one of a wide range of drying towel variants offered by car care newcomer Detailers United. The website is confusing and talks about different pile lengths on each side, which were missing in our sample. In theory, this allows for both polishing and drying. There is also confusion about the density of the towel. Before drying it is quite thirsty and wipes off, but it gets heavy quickly and the thick material is hard work to wring out.
Now that the drying is sorted, click here to read our list of the best wax and sealant†