Best Way to Dry a Car: The Do’s and Don’ts
You may continuously have heard of the different ways and products that you can use to wash your vehicle and even the multiple methods to wax it, but enough emphasis isn’t laid on the best way to dry a car.
The simple act of thoroughly drying your car after washing it may not seem as important, but believe us when we tell you, it is more important than you would think.
Washing and drying your car regularly is a type of car maintenance that will offer its aesthetics the most benefit.
However, to do it properly to maintain the value of your car and keep it looking new, you have to understand how to dry it and the importance of it.
Why Do You Need to Dry Your Car?
Unless you are just wiping your car down with a dry cloth, you can only achieve a clean car if you wet it and use the appropriate cleaning products.
Now, a question that surely comes to your mind is, "Why should you spend more time drying the car once you are done cleaning it?".
You wash your car to get rid of all the dirt and grime on it, and once you get rid of all that, you can simply let the car air dry instead of wiping it down, right?
Well, let us tell you right away that all that effort you put into washing your car will go down the drain if you do not dry it properly.
Water used to wash your car contains natural minerals, and when you let it air dry, these minerals do not evaporate with the liquid.
Of course, your car will be completely dry, but evaporated water will leave behind all those minerals with a trace.
That will basically be in forms of deposits, spots, and even streaks that make the car look worse than it did before you spent all that time and effort to clean it.
For folks with darker colored cars, these will become even more noticeable.
If that’s not bad enough, the mineral deposits in the water could cause some harm to the paint of your car.
That is because some of these deposits can degrade the paintwork over time.
Best Way to Dry a Car
Now that you know why it is important to dry your car thoroughly, we need to talk about the right way to do it.
Yes, you read that right. There is a whole process you need to follow to dry your car properly.
You can't just take an old rag cloth, wipe everything down, and move on if you are looking for that perfect finish.
Since you have spent all that time and hard work washing your car, you might as well spend a bit more time to dry it to ensure that your effort didn’t go in vain.
There are a couple of ways you can choose to ensure that your car is bone dry and has a perfect finish, but there are specific ways that are just not advisable, and we will also list them below.
What You Need to Do First
Before you dry your car, there are a few steps you need to follow during the cleaning process itself.
For starters, when you spray water on the car with a hose, make sure you are doing it at medium pressure.
Rinse the car more than once to allow the water to flow freely over the surface.
Once you are done cleaning, give the car a minute or two to drip dry.
During that time, you can gather all the necessary tools to start drying your car.
The Different Methods
The methods of drying your car will depend on the drying tool you choose to use. Here they are:
1. Microfiber Cloth
Microfiber cloth or towel is the best item to use to dry your car.
Use a microfiber cloth every single time you have to wipe down something prone to scratching or is quite fragile. It can be an absolute lifesaver.
If you check online shopping sites or your local store, you will find microfiber cloths coming in every shape and size for not just cars but also windows, electronic devices, glasses, and more.
Microfiber cloths are fairly easy to use, absorbent, and great to have in your hands when you do any car detailing work.
To use a microfiber cloth to dry your car is a straightforward process.
First, wipe down the wet surfaces of the car with the cloth.
There are no special techniques that you have to worry about other than starting from the top of the car and then moving downwards.
You do such so that you do not get any dry spots wet all over again.
If your microfiber cloth is large, we recommend folding it once or twice as that will give you a better grip and overall better control.
Chamois is a soft cloth similar to a microfiber cloth, and this will not cause any scratches to the car’s surface.
Typically, chamois is made from animal leather, sheep or goat, but you also get a synthetic chamois blend like PVA (polyvinyl alcohol).
While the synthetic option is great for those on a budget, you will get better durability and performance if you use the chamois made from animal leather.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but chamois works the best when it is slightly damp rather than fully dry.
Making it a bit damp will help the cloth to cling to the car’s surface better and absorb as much water and moisture as possible.
To use this cloth, you can simply throw it over flat surfaces and pull it to clear the wet spots. Otherwise, you can just fold it over once or twice and wipe off any spots just like you would do with a microfiber cloth.
3. Lint-Free Cloth Diapers
Yes, we know lint-free cloth diapers may sound strange, but professional detailers use this trick.
You will need anywhere between six to eight diapers to dry your car completely, and once you are done with it, simply wash them to use it the next time.
To do this, begin with the diapers in each hand. Use your dominant hand to wipe away as much water as you can.
Follow that with your non-dominant hand, drying that section further; thus, leaving that surface completely dry.
When you feel that the lint-free cloth diaper in your dominant hand has become very wet, grab a fresh one to do the job.
When you are done drying the car completely, take a fresh diaper to wipe down the glass since this will not just dry it but also ensure there will not be any water stains left behind.
General Tips When Drying Your Car
It doesn’t matter which option you choose to dry your car; if you follow the tips below, you’re most definitely going to get the best result.
All of these are simple drying processes that allow you to get rid of the water from the car while minimizing or even altogether eliminating water spots and streaks.
1. Follow the Top to Bottom Stroke
When drying your car, we recommend working your way downwards. Begin from the roof of the car and slowly towards the wheels.
The water drips down naturally, thanks to gravity, and you would not want to change this direction.
It also helps to dry the roof of the car completely before heading downwards to the sides, back, and front of your car.
It does not matter which side you begin on as long as you are working your way downwards.
Be careful, though, not to wipe a spot that you have already wiped before since that would get it wet again.
2. Section Your Car Out
You can be strategic with the whole drying process by sectioning out the car. We recommend working in small sections all over the car.
As mentioned earlier, always start from the roof, and then you can move to the front passenger door, then the driver door, and so on.
Sectioning it out like that will make the drying process easier and allow you to focus on one spot at a time.
3. Always Use Clean Cloth
You must always use a clean cloth to dry your car to avoid getting any new dirt and grime on the newly cleaned surface of your car.
Here are some of the common questions related to car drying for you to be more knowledgeable and efficient.
1. How Can I Dry My Car Faster?
We understand that using a microfiber cloth or chamois can be a time-consuming process to dry the car.
Thankfully, there is a way to dry your car completely and quickly, and that is by using pressurized air.
After washing the car with medium water pressure and letting the water flow freely for a few minutes, you can take a can of pressurized air.
It will dry the car's surface quickly and help you deal with areas like gas caps, running boards, and windshield wipers.
2. Can I Use a Regular Towel to Dry My Car?
Want to know a surefire way to scratch your car? Simply use a regular towel or old rag to dry it.
Regular towels or even rags that aren’t too dirty, tend to be quite abrasive when used on glass or body panels.
When you use these pieces of cloth on a fragile surface of the car, there is an extremely high possibility that there will be scratches and streaks on the surface, which will undo all your hard work.
Also, a regular towel is not as absorbent as microfiber cloth and chamois.
A towel will simply keep pushing the water all around the car but not absorb and get rid of it, and this makes it a terrible choice to dry your car.
3. Can You Use a Leaf Blower to Dry a Car?
Leaf blowers are an excellent cheat method to dry your car. It goes without saying that a powerful leaf blower will dry your car completely and faster than a microfiber cloth or chamois.
Also, with a leaf blower, there is no contact with the car. That means you don't have to worry about any scratches or streaks.
Since these are so powerful, they are capable of drying those hard-to-reach spots like under the handles. That said, there are some things you need to worry about, too.
A leaf blower is extremely powerful and meant to blow leaves in your yard.
Using this to dry your car can inevitably blow a ton of dust and debris around, and this can stick to your car, making it dirty again.
Leaf blowers are also usually loud, which can get annoying after a while.
4. Why Can’t You Use Sunlight to Dry the Car?
Choosing to air dry or sun-dry the car seems to be a common but incorrect approach followed by many car owners.
You would dry your clothes, pet, and even young children under the sun, so why not the car?
You would think this is a convenient way to dry the car because you simply park it in an open space under the sun for an hour or two.
While this may indeed dry your car, there is a reason car experts don’t recommend washing or detailing the car under direct sunlight.
Doing so will leave streaks and spots as the water droplets begin to evaporate. Those water spots make the car look even dirtier, so you need you to wash the car completely once again.
We hope that the above suggestions have given you an idea of the best way to dry a car.
As mentioned earlier, while washing a car is important, it is equally important to dry it properly.
Choose a drying style that works well with you and follow our suggestions to the T for a car exterior with a perfect shiny finish.