How To Dry A Car After Washing – The Official Guide

By now that you know I love washing my car, but knowing how to dry a car after washing and without leaving streak marks or water spots is equally important.

Saturdays are my car washing day. We take the dogs out on Fridays, and cleaning the car and cleaning up the pet hairs matters a great deal to me. Experience has taught me that no car wash is going to look after my car the way I do. And as well I do at my job, even I can’t afford to have my car detailed on a weekly basis.

Saturday Mornings

For this reason, every Saturday morning, you’ll see me in my drive washing away. Well recently something really strange has started to happen. Whereas there was a time where my neighbors used to look down at me for washing my own car. But soon they discovered the truth. And the truth is, all a car wash does it clean the upper surfaces and make it shine. However, they don’t work the car like I do.

I spend 2 hours every Saturday cleaning my car, and recently I’ve noticed other neighbors were doing the same thing. Before long, there was suddenly 7 of us washing our cars weekly at home. Now given that I was clearly the car enthusiast, some of the neighbors would come by for advice, or come and borrow the jet wash or whatever. But a camaraderie was starting to be built.

The neighbor

However, there’s always that one neighbor who just thinks they know it all. You know what I mean, the type of guy that felt he was too good to mix with the rest of us on the street. Well I couldn’t help but watch his technique.

If he really did know it all, then there’s a chance I would learn some new tips, tricks and hacks. However, alas,that wasn’t the case. He may as well have gone to a car wash. He was rushing, using all the products in the wrong order, not being thorough enough and worse still, really really messed up on the drying part of his car.

Given that we live in Miami, and the sun is very very hot, with high humidity, if you don’t dry your car quickly and properly, then chances are you’re going to start getting water marks. And not just a few, LOTS AND LOTS of them. Now given that we accept this to be true, when it’s time to dry the car, I do a supremely good job whilst also being very fast.

How to dry a car after washing

That said, I understood exactly what it took to dry a car. However, Bret, the neighbor who thought he knew it all, was being far more rough and aggressive than he needed to be. And the way he was drying his car, I was feeling fairly confident that he would be damaging the car by causing small scratches.

Wow! Did I want to be the one to tell him? Had he asked me for advice? No, he hadn’t and that was my answer in itself.

However, I had secretly hoped that he would watch me dry my car and copy that.

There seems to be some sort of misconception that just using a microfiber towel is good enough for drying a car. I hate being the bearer of bad news, but this isn’t technically true. Microfiber cloths under a microscope have tiny claws on the skin. This means they are designed to grip and pick up dirt from a surface. So if you use a dry microfiber cloth to dry a car, chances are, despite popular belief, you are going to end up scratching your car.

drying a car with microfiber towels

When I first learnt how to dry a car, I always used to think that a shammi (Chamois Leather) and a microfiber cloth alone would do the trick. How wrong I was.

However, don’t despair. I’m going to share not just what I’ve learnt, but what I actually put into practice every Saturday.

Firstly remember it’s actually never advisable to touch the surface of the car without spraying something on it first. If you don’t lubricate the surface, the chances are, the cloth you are going to use will scratch it.

So the first thing you want to do is damp your microfiber towel. This changes the total structure of the towel. In fact, it changes it so much that it not only picks up dirt but absorbs a great deal of water too.

Some quick squirts on the microfiber towel and I was good to go. In addition to keeping the car lubricated, picking up dirt and absorbing water, I was also adding an extra shine to the skin of the car.

drying a car

Think of the skin of your car like the skin on your face. If you don’t look after it, after a while it’ll look dull, tired, dried out and worse. And to prevent all of that you’d use a moisturizer on your face, wouldn’t you?

Don’t laugh, I know you moisturize too.

Well the plan is to moisturize the car’s skin too. And I was doing that whilst I was drying the car. The point of the ammo hydrate was to moisturize the car, really bring the skin to life and protect the actual car paint.

I didn’t spray the ammo hydrate all over the car. But I just worked one panel at a time and it wiped away with the damp microfiber cloth.

Before long the car wasn’t just dry. It was gleaming. It was shining.

It was looking exactly like I wanted.

But it does seem of late, that the more I talk to people, the more they are concerned with washing tips, like how to wash a convertible car. That sorta thing, tips, trick, hacks, etc.

But drying a car is so important. It’s the difference that makes the difference. There’s absolutely no point in spending an hour and a half washing the heck out of your car, but not drying it correcty. Or drying it and scratching it in the process.

The best tip I was ever given when drying the car was to always make sure whether you use a shammi (don’t) or even a microfiber cloth, you want to ensure that the cloth is dampened with a few sprays of a hydrate.

If you do this properly, what you’ll find is that you’ll consistently leave your car looking amazing. And I mean that. Just amazing. But more importantly, you’ll keep the paint glowing for much longer.

Hand drying a car
Be Gentle

It’s quite easy to notice which car’s paints are fading and in the majority of cases, that’s from a lack of car care. That’s from a lack of keeping the skin of the car really looking superb.

Trust me when I say, take equally good care in drying your car as you do in washing it. Drying a car well is beyond water spots and streaks. It’s about keeping the car looking and feeling fresh.

I’m not entirely sure which is the best hydrate to use on a car because I’ve only ever used one. But the bottle is running out and I’d like to check out some other cool ones out there. So be sure to stay tuned and I’ll no doubt be posting my thoughts on all of those.

But until then, happy drying!