Best microfibre cloths and car drying towels 2018

Which microfibre is best for a freshly rinsed car? We test the market leaders for the ultimate drying power…

After the effort of washing and rinsing, it is tempting to let the car dry itself. But that shiny, wet finish soon disappears, leaving behind spots from the minerals in the water, so it pays to dry the bodywork thoroughly. 

There’s a range of options from pricey air blowers to blades that shift water quickly, but run the risk of dragging grit across paintwork. The most cost-effective is a microfibre cloth specially developed for drying. These are normally bigger and thicker than those used for polishing or cleaning, plus easier to get on with than a traditional chamois leather. They come in a range of weaves and piles, but which is the wring master? We soaked nine to find out.

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How we tested them

We focused more on ease of use; a huge thirst for water can make a cloth heavy to handle. We upped the number of side-by-side wipe comparisons and general drying, plus rated how easy each was to wring when wet. Our water absorption test remained; we looked at how much the cloths sucked up after being soaked then drained for 15 seconds. The final factor was cost from makers and online sources.

Verdict

Even though our test was revised, the results were again close; Kent stays at the top, offering a good balance of performance and price.

  • 1. Kent Extra Large Microfibre Drying Towel
  • ReviewsKent Extra Large Microfibre Drying Towel

    Price: Around £4
    Water gain: 1,100g
    Rating: 5.0

    As we’ve seen so often among the Best Buys in our tests over the years, getting the right balance is the key to success. Kent manages it, carefully matching size and cloth thickness with water absorption and ease of use. As the name suggests it’s no pocket handkerchief; in fact, it is slightly larger than the Meguiar’s Supreme Drying Towel.

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    But it’s not as thick, with short fibres on one side and longer ones on the other. This means its water intake is around half that of the Meguiar’s, but it’s easier to use. It is lighter when wet, requiring much less effort to move across panels, plus it’s easy to wring. Add in the fact it’s about a quarter of the price, and we have a clear winner yet again.

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    Gtechniq Diamond Sandwich Microfibre Drying Towel MF4

    Price: Around £10 
    Water gain: 1,000g
    Rating: 4.5

    A fine debut from detailing specialist Gtechniq, which has taken a hi-tech route compared with rivals. This has an absorbent layer between the top and bottom diamond microfibre weaves. The cloth aims to draw in water through the outer layers, and it works; it topped our wipe tests, pipping our Best Buy. As this is achieved with a relatively thin design, it remains easy to fold and works even when wet, plus it takes little effort to wring.

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    Microfibre Madness Dry Me Crazy Jr

    Price: Around £14 
    Water gain: 1,300g
    Rating: 4.0

    If you want a long-pile drying cloth, then this is the one we’d go for. You get the absorption advantages of a thick cloth but, as it is just 40x40cm, without the disadvantages of a larger design. Wipe quality was among the best behind our top two, plus it didn’t get too heavy when doing large areas. Two lines of stitching between the two long-pile panels prevent it pulling apart, plus there’s a resealable bag for dust and grit-free storage.

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    Meguiar’s Supreme Drying Towel

    Price: £20
    Water gain: 2,450g
    Rating: 3.5 

    A big change from Meguiar’s dimpled Water Magnet that struggled to truly live up to its name, this is a substantial cloth with long, dense microfibres. The usual Meguiar’s quality is there, with the 87 per cent polyester, 13 per cent polyamide material neatly edged in black. It retained 2,450g of water after draining for 30 seconds – more than a match for similar towels we’ve tested in the past.

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    And as with those competitors, this is its main drawback. Once loaded with water, it is a real effort to move around, and that thick pile is hard to wring. Wipe quality was good, only a touch behind the Kent, but it is more effort, plus it’s around a fiver more than similar rivals.

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    Ultimate Finish Ultra-Soft Microfibre Drying Towel

    Price: Around £11 
    Water gain: 1,850g
    Rating: 3.5

    This 70 per cent polyester, 30 per cent polyamide monster from Ultimate Finish impressed in the soak test by absorbing more than seven times its own weight – better than any other cloth. Sadly, that didn’t translate into a test-topping wipe because it left a thicker layer of moisture than the best. With a similar mix of short and mid length fibres to our winner, it was easy to fold and wring, but the bigger size meant it could get unwieldy when wet.

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    Autoglym Hi-Tech Microfibre Drying Towel

    Price: Around £14 
    Water gain: 625g
    Rating: 3.5

    Our revised test certainly suited Autoglym’s long-running Hi-Tech Towel. As you’d expect from the brand it is well made, with silk-like edging, but it lacks the long fibres of many rivals. The result is a relatively poor showing in the soak test, at just 625g, and in the increased wipe assessment it trailed the best. Still, it scores on ease of use; an extra sweep to lift that last layer of moisture requires little effort because the cloth doesn’t gain weight like others. 

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    Auto Finesse Aqua Deluxe Drying Towel

    Price: Around £13
    Water gain: 2,800g
    Rating: 3.0

    There’s very little to choose between this towel and Dodo Juice’s Double Touch; the two are very similar. Both have long fibres on each side with neatly covered edges which meant the Aqua Deluxe absorbed seven times its weight in the soak test. We also preferred the wipe on the Auto Finesse, which left marginally less water on our test panel. Both were hard work when wet, but a price advantage just gives the Aqua Deluxe the edge.

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    Dodo Juice Double Touch

    Price: Around £16  
    Water gain: 2,600g
    Rating: 3.0

    Our increased focus on ease of use counts against this ‘stupidly soft’ Double Touch towel from Dodo Juice. You can feel that softness in the long fibres compared with rivals. Dodo Juice claims the cloth is ‘twice as greedy’ as its Soft Touch version, and it was among the best in our soak test, absorbing nearly seven times its weight. Impressive, but that means a heavy cloth as you progress around the car and one that is not easy to wring dry. 

    Buy now from Amazon

    Britemax UberMax IncREDible Drying Towel

    Price: Around £13  
    Water gain: 2,200g
    Rating: 3.0

    Britemax has gone its own way with this towel, which is more of a pocket with one end sealed. This means there is no edging on three sides. A stitched rectangle in the centre helps keep the two panels together. The fibres are long on both sides, giving the towel a huge thirst – this was another to soak up around seven times its own weight. But its bulk makes it hard to hold in one hand – essential to prevent it touching the ground – and tricky when wet.

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    Need some car wash and car polish to use after the car is dry? Read our best car wax and polish group test here.

    Next: Kent Extra Large Microfibre Drying Towel

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