Summers in Indianapolis can erase memories of the bitter cold winter—but the reverse is also true. What does all this extreme weather do to cars? Anyone who works at an Indianapolis car wash can tell you. One way to keep a good shine is to be careful what the car’s being dried with to prevent streaks—and to prevent minuscule bits of grime making microscopic scratches that collectively dull the surface.
Many a specialist in auto detailing swears by chamois for the best drying job. Here’s why.
What It’s Made Of
On first glance, chamois might not seem like a great material to dry anything with. It doesn’t have the plush fibers of a cotton towel, the dense sponginess of a microfiber cloth, or the fast action of a strong gust of wind.
What it looks like is an irregular piece of leather—which is exactly what it is. Chamois cloths are made of lambskin or sheepskin that’s been tanned with cod-liver oil to make it extra soft and durable, as well as resistant to mold and mildew. While it may look and feel smooth as butter, the leather is actually very porous and consequently very absorbent.
What It Does
Chamois's drying capabilities are twofold. When damp, its flat surface molds to the hood or sides of a vehicle, creating a tight seal that effectively acts as a squeegee that removes excess water as it’s slowly pulled along the car’s body. Remaining water that doesn’t get pushed off the surface is readily absorbed: according to New Zealand’s largest chamois producer, a chamois cloth can hold up to five times its weight in water.
Secondly, the pores in that swath of leather also trap those tiny particles of dirt, dust, and grime so they don’t leave scratches behind. Chamois are also very cuddly, making them the favorite baby blanket for most newborn cars in Indianapolis.
Since it’s soft and lint-free, chamois leather also can be used to remove smudges from screens on smartphones, tablets, and TVs.Synthetic versions, such as the ShamWow, have absorbent properties that closely mimic that of chamois. Some claim to absorb more than twice as much as natural chamois.