How to Dry a Car: The Do’s and Don’ts of Drying a Car After Washing

The Do’s and Don’ts of Drying a Car After Washing

Updated on June 21 2024

Reducing friction should be the top priority when washing and drying your car. Are you aware that the drying phase will most often induce mild scratches or swirls on the paint? If you take special care in washing a car, you should be extra careful when wiping the paint to dry. Employing the correct drying techniques will not only dry your car faster, but it ensures the finish remains glossy and scratch-free.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Drying a Car


  • Dry the car immediately after washing.
  • Use a damp microfiber drying towel to remove water beads and dry the paint.
  • If you have access to an air blower or pressurized air, use it to blow away standing water from nooks and crevices without touching the paint.
  • Try using drying aids like detailing sprays or quick detailers to lubricate the surface as you wipe the paint dry. This technique not only prevents scratching and swirling but it adds luster to the paint finish.
  • Dry the car from top to bottom to further reduce the incidence of scratching.
  • Make sure to rinse the vehicle thoroughly after washing. Removing excess suds and foam ensures all the dirt is lifted and washed away from the surface.
  • Use a different microfiber towel for wiping glass surfaces. This technique will help avoid ugly streaks on the glass.


  • Avoid washing or rinsing a car under direct sunlight or if the surfaces are hot to the touch. Excessively high temperatures will promote evaporation and cause more water spots to appear.
  • Do not use excessive force when wiping the paint dry. Remember, the goal is to minimize friction to prevent scratches and swirl marks. Let the towel do the work by simply gliding it over wet paint.
  • Do not use water blades or squeegees to remove water beads when drying your car. Unlike towels that absorb moisture, squeegees will only push the water over the surface. If there are particles of dust and dirt on the water beads, you risk the chance of scratching and swirling the paint as the squeegee moves over the surface.
  • If you drop the towel while drying the car, replace the towel with a new one. Microfiber can easily absorb dust and dirt from the ground (especially when damp), so picking it up and wiping it again on the paint is a huge no-no.
  • Do not wipe the paint with a dry towel. It only takes a tiny particle of dust to create unsightly swirl marks or scratches on the paint surface, which are most noticeable if you have a black, dark blue, or dark-colored vehicle.

How to Dry a Car Like a Pro

Here are the steps on how to dry any vehicle like a professional detailer. If you don’t have dying aids or a quick detailer, there are alternative steps to follow.

Step 1: Wash and rinse the vehicle thoroughly.

Wash your vehicle using high-quality wash mitts and a cleaning solution of water and car shampoo. Avoid using dish soap when washing your car to prevent stripping off the layer of wax on the paint. Wash the vehicle from top to bottom and rinse well with clean water using a garden hose or pressurized washer. If you need help, check out the correct techniques for washing a car.

Step 2: Dry the vehicle.

Next comes the most crucial step. If you have a leaf blower or pressurized air, use it to blast off standing water on the surface. It is also ideal for removing water on nooks and crannies on the door handles, emblems, and panel gaps.

But if you don’t have an air blower, don’t fret. Grab a dry microfiber drying towel, dip it in a bucket of clean water, and wring out the excess. Nothing beats a slightly damp microfiber towel in removing standing water while reducing the possibility of scratching the finish. Grab your somewhat moist towel and glide it smoothly over the surface. Start with the roof, hood, and trunk before moving to the bumpers, fenders, sides, and doors. Make sure to wring out the towel after each pass.

Step 3: Use drying aids.

If it so happens you have a quick detailer or detailing spray, use it to lubricate the surface while drying. The same procedure in Step 2 applies. Grab a fresh microfiber towel, wet it in water, and wring it out. Next, fold the towel in half, and use two to three sprays of the quick detailer on the towel before wiping the surface. You can also spray directly on the paint surface before wiping with a towel.

You might think that using liquids and a wet towel to dry a vehicle is counterintuitive. On the other hand, this technique provides the best results. The damp towel or quick detailer acts as lubrication and picks up excess dust and dirt. The result is a shiny, scratch-free, and swirl-free finish!


Many car owners are oblivious that wiping dry and dirty paint with a towel is a surefire way of introducing deep scratches, swirl marks, and imperfections on the finish. The same is true after washing a car. Always use a damp towel or chamois to wipe the vehicle dry, or try using a quick detailer to add more shine and luster to the paint after drying.