Washing a car properly can be a long, meticulous affair. A good detailing guide can easily take up an afternoon and it's more than tempting to walk away after giving your car its final spray with a pressure washer. However, leaving it to air dry (especially in the sun) will leave unsightly watermarks that can ruin the look of an otherwise sparkling car.
A drying towel will help prevent these streaks and is a relatively simple way to ensure that your car looks as good as it can once you've pampered the paintwork for an afternoon.
The best car drying towels
Autoglym HTMDT Hi-Tech Microfibre Drying Towel
Best premium drying towel
Utilising advanced microfibre technology, this drying towel from Autoglym is a really quick and effective way to dry your car. At 60 x 60cm, the surface area is excellent and one towel should be enough to dry even a large car without becoming saturated and useless. It also will not leave any marks on your paintwork making it our top pick for drying. Dimensions: 60 x 60cm, Weight: N/A
Meguiaru2019s X1802 Supreme Microfibre Car Cleaning Drying Towel XL
Best large drying towel
Sometimes nothing beats sheer size when it comes to drying. This XL towel from Meguiar's measures 55 x 85cm making it one of the largest drying towels we could find. It also features near unrivalled absorbency with a gsm of 1050 (which means it's very fluffy). The soft edges are safe for paintwork and the softness will help protect delicate paintwork. Dimensions: 55 x 85cm; 1050gsm
Amazon Basics Large Thick Drying Towel (Pack of 2)
Best budget option
These waffle-textured drying towels from Amazon Basics may not be the fanciest but they are exceedingly good value. The set comes with two towels that will give a streak-free finish on your car and are absorbant on water too. Dimensions: 63.5 x 76.2cm; N/A
Meguiar's X2000EU Water Magnet Microfibre Drying Towel
The best way of removing water
Removing water can be a time-consuming affair even with a traditional drying towel. This waffle-texture drying towel from Meguiar's is designed to cut your drying time and reduce your need to wring the towel out as much. This is an essential purchase if you really cannot stand watermarks. Dimensions: 55 x 76cm; Weight: N/A
Gtechniq MF2 Microfibre Drying Towel
Incredibly soft drying
Even bigger than the Meguair's XL drying towel, this supersoft towel from Gtechniq is excellent for drying even the largest body panels. The ribbed edges will ensure your paintwork is protected while the 450gsm fibres will absorb water with ease. It's also designed to reduce marring (tiny scratches in your paintwork). Dimensions: 60 x 90cm; Weight: 450gsm
Tested 2021: "This microfibre towel is massive, I'm pretty sure it could be used as a car cover for a Kei car. The soft 450gsm fibres are only present on one side, with the other side more like a traditional microfibre cloth. It's very good for absorbing water but does take ages to dry when washed."
Auto Finesse Aqua Deluxe Car Drying Towel
Best for delicate paintwork
The softest, most absorbent drying towel we could find for sale, the Auto Finesse Deluxe Drying Towel is perfect for even the most delicate of surfaces. It features soft, protective edges and chenille fibres to ensure that water is removed without damaging the paintwork. Dimensions: 50 x 70cm; Weight: 1200gsm
Kent Car Care GKEQ6100 Microfibre Drying Towel
Best budget drying towel
If you want to dry your car on more of a budget and don't mind applying a bit more elbow grease then this simple microfibre towel from Kent Car Care is our pick. While it may not have the same absorbency as more expensive options, it still features excellent features like soft edges, a large surface area and a soft finish that won't irritate the paintwork. Dimensions: 5 square foot, Weight: N/A
Gtechniq MF4 Diamond Sandwich Microfiber Drying Towel
A clever alternative
Promising to do more than just dry your car, the Gtechniq Diamond Microfibre Towel can also be used for polishing surfaces. Designed not to leave any marks or become saturated thanks to the clever outer layer that wicks water away from your car's bodywork into a central reservoir that will store the water until you need to ring it out. Dimensions: 60 x 60 cm
Tested 2021: "On every surface, I tried it on, this towel was excellent for absorbing water. It doesn't feel as soft as traditional microfibre drying towels but it can soak up so much water before becoming saturated. It's also quick to dry and low-maintenance to look after. On dry surfaces, a more traditional microfibre cloth would be a better choice but it's still an excellent choice."
What you need to know about car drying towels:
What features should I look for?
Most drying towels offer roughly the same amount of features so it's only smaller things that really need consideration. Size is one such thing, the bigger the towel the quicker you can dry your car but the longer it'll take to dry once wet.
Also think about your car's paintwork. Older cars without a top coat are extremely delicate so you'll need a softer towel to prevent any damage. Get one with a higher gsm (grams per square metre) and protected edges to keep it from damaging your car's paintwork.
How to properly dry a car:
Your drying technique matters just as much as what equipment you use. We have a few tips that will help you dry your car better:
Never leave your car to dry in direct sunlight, not only will this make any cleaning product less effective, it will leave watermarks. Place your car in the shade for the best results.
Don't scrunch your towel up when you're drying it. Make use of the towel's surface area and drape the towel over the bodywork. This will make drying quicker and more effective.
Remember to turn your towel frequently.
For the best results, open your doors, boot and bonnet when the car is nearly dry so you can catch any water that has accumulated in the sills.