You can use a blower, chamois or cloth, but what is, without doubt, is that you need to dry your car after washing and rinsing. If you just leave it, minerals in the water will leave spots on the paint, ruining all your good work with a mitt, shampoo and hose.
You could invest in a water filter to remove the minerals, but even the cheapest option will be more expensive than a simple leather or cloth. Microfibre cloths have long been the choice over a chamois (which is actually sheepskin) since these can deteriorate, and a good one is expensive.
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The cloths have got bigger and thicker over the years, but smaller alternatives are now available. We tried 10 top sellers to find out which should leave a streak-free finish on your car.
We revised our test again in a bid to separate some closely matched rivals. Water absorption was measured after soaking and draining for 30 seconds, then scored relative to the initial weight. Wringing was also assessed for ease and how much water we could remove.
On the car, we ran side-by-side tests on a soaked bonnet looking for how much was removed in one pass. We then dried a large panel, assessing ease of use and how quickly it could be dried. Finally, we took into account price from online sources.
We had a new test, but the same winner – albeit by a narrow margin. Kent remains our champion, but it was pushed by the more expensive but very effective Autoglym. The similar Ultimate Finish and Mammoth were inseparable in third.
Price: Around £4Rating: 5 starsContact: www.kentcarcare.co.uk
Kent’s reign at the head of this test continues, but it was close to being toppled by the innovative challenge from Autoglym’s InstaDry. Despite measuring five square feet, this Kent towel draws a good balance between covering a large area and not getting too heavy when wet. The mix of short and long fibres is also easy to wring out, topping our test. It took a little more time to air dry than the InstaDry, but it was close enough to maintain its considerable price advantage.
Price: Around £13Rating: 4 starsContact: www.autoglym.com
This is one clever cloth which, by some margin, left the least water on our test bonnet after wiping. The InstaDry is the result of Autoglym and Vileda teaming up to produce a highly absorbent PVA-coated microfibre cloth, and it soaked up six times its own weight in our test. It also remains light to use and easy to wring, although you do that more often than most rivals here. On the car, the InstaDry had a slight edge, but you can’t get away from the fact that it’s three times the price of the Kent.
Price: Around £11Rating: 4 starsContact: www.theultimatefinish.co.uk
The revised test suited this own-brand cloth from online retailer Ultimate Finish, which gave it an edge over the Gtechniq and Angelwax pair by a small margin. Alongside the similar but edgeless Mammoth it had an advantage in the absorption and wring tests, soaking up more than seven times its own weight in the former. Like our winner, it features a long and short pile weave, and left a similar film on the panel after wiping. It’s bigger than the Kent, but never got too heavy and remained easy to wring.
Price: Around £11Rating: 4 starsContact: www.motorgeek.co.uk
Unique among the conventional microfibres, the Infinity XL has an edgeless design, lacking the usual hemmed finish of rivals. Online retailer Motorgeek says the ultrasonic-cut edge of the cloth means there’s no risk of scratching paint. It’s another cloth to follow the short and mid-length weave of the winning Kent, and is pretty much the same size. It performs similarly, too, with easy wringing, but leaves a film that took a little longer to dry on our test bonnet.
Price: Around £10Rating: 4 starsContact: www.gtechniq.com
It was close between the Gtechniq and Angelwax cloths versus the conventional Mammoth and Ultimate Finish pair (opposite), despite their different approaches. This towel has an inner layer to retain water wicked by the outer layers, so it offers more absorption than conventional designs. Our test didn’t show that, but it certainly worked well, leaving the panel drier than most.
Price: Around £10Rating: 4 starsContact: www.angelwax.co.uk
This cloth is a dead ringer for the Gtechniq (left) matching it every step of the way. It’s a top performer, but it comes in a clear pack with no branding or instructions. There’s no detail on how it’s made or how it should be washed. You have to go to the website before you learn it needs to be machine washed before first use. A good product, but not a complete package like the Gtechniq.
Buy now from Angel Wax
Price: Around £10Rating: 4 starsContact: www.cargods54.com
This cloth takes an unusual approach to drying for a market used to the biggest, fluffiest microfibre cloths. It’s small and an unfashionable waffle weave, yet it’s easy to use because it’s light but fills with water quickly. This means lots of wringing, though, which slows the process.
Price: Around £12Rating: 3 starsContact: www.stjarnagloss.com
If you think you’ve heard of this Swedish detailing specialist before, it was sold in the UK up until around six years ago when its online distributor closed. It’s now back and distributed by Dodo Juice with a revised range. Törstig follows the ‘bigger is better’ school of drying. It gets heavy quickly and is bulky to wring. If you can live with that, it has a quality feel and works pretty well.
Buy now from Elite Car Care
Price: Around £20Rating: 3 starsContact: www.meguiars.co.uk
Price: Around £13Rating: 3 starsContact: www.motorgeek.co.uk
Buy now from Alchemy Dry Cut Lounge
Need some car wash and car polish to use after the car is dry? Read our best car wax and polish group test here.
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