Here I demonstrate a trio of different towel drying techniques using the super mean Viper Green body panels of a 500bhp GT3RS.
And while this video isn’t specifically about the wash process the RS was obviously taken care of beforehand with a prolonged pre-soak, tender two-bucket wash and rigorous rinse down to safely remove all of the high speed winter contaminants shown in the opening shots.
I began with probably the safest towel drying technique – the “pat” along with perhaps the least safe yet most absorbent type of towel – the waffle weave, and although you can use a more traditional microfibre towel to pat dry a car I wanted to use a waffle weave here to take advantage of its superior absorption capabilities without having to worry about its lack of dirt particle trapping fibres.
It should be properly primed with a detail spray first as a damp towel will absorb water far more effectively than a bone dry one then once spritzed should be folded a couple of times before being gently dabbed, patted or blotted over the wet surface. I like to lightly run the palm of my hand over the towel to ensure it makes contact with all parts of the panel underneath but at the same time ensure I don’t move it around on the surface as the aim here is to keep any impact to an absolute minimum.
In order to avoid potentially unsightly water spotting you should flip the towel or refold it every now and again to reveal a more absorbent surface and if you’re looking to dry an entire car using this method I’d suggest using a slightly larger item than the one I went with here, plus don’t forget to thoroughly wring it out at least once during the drying process to ensure it doesn’t become too saturated and lose its sucking power.
While this technique is great for safely removing standing rinse water from open areas there’ll inevitably be less accessible parts you’ll struggle to dry without wanting to move the towel back and forth, and on cool damp days like this without much warmth to aid the evaporation of any remaining residue, regardless of how many times you fold, flip or wring you’ll likely be left with some light blotching which can dry on the surface and prevent a crisp finish from being achieved but luckily that’s where the next towel drying technique comes in handy.
Using a traditional microfibre drying towel now its on to the blanketing approach which aims to gently pull the excess water from the surface with minimal resistance. For this to work properly both the panel and the towel need to be thoroughly lubricated and primed first and although perhaps a little counter-productive, if you fully immerse it in a bucket of clean water and thoroughly ring it out, the damp slightly heavier towel will more readily ‘ride’ the contours of the car attracting the rinse water from the surface as it goes.
Once laid flat over the panel the microfibre is gently drawn towards you in a controlled manner until it’s completed one full pass over the damp surface. The weight of the towel once wet should be heavy enough to draw up the rinse water as it passes over the panel yet light enough to not inflict any marks in the finish.
The larger and less complicated the panels the better when blanketing and for this reason it’s a great technique for gently drying off all the flat facing surfaces but as with the patting procedure there’s limitations to this too. The towel can easily miss recessed areas where rinse water collects for example, plus without a second pair of hands it’s difficult to safely dry the sides of a car in this manner without it coming into contact with either the ground or the wheels and so it might be worth taking advantage of one of the other methods for these awkward areas.
Making use of another thick towel, the final drying technique to illustrate is wiping down which is by far the most versatile yet technically the most “dangerous” in terms of potentially inflicting damage so if you go with this approach it’s important to use a good quality plush microfibre to help minimise that risk.
Wiping the towel over the surface with your hands will dry it off in the most simple manner possible, yet despite only applying enough pressure to keep it under control it still technically has a greater impact than patting or blanketing does which makes it more appropriate for cars with either already swirled paint, hard paint, heavily protected super-slick paint the towel will glide over or paint wrapped with protection film which was the case for this particular car.
All that being said I’ve personally never had any issues drying cars in this manner and so will likely continue to do so until I invest in a decent filtered blower for maintenance and detail washes. If you lubricate, use a clean plush towel designed for the job, don’t apply too much pressure when working it over the surface and properly clean the car to leave it as contaminant free as possible prior to drying, then you’d be very unlucky to inflict any damage in my opinion.
So while it may technically be more aggressive than the previous two methods this approach is great for accessing the trapped and unseen rinse water that patting and blanketing alone would struggle to, meaning overall it leaves the least water behind which ultimately is what drying a car is all about.
And as nice as this GT3RS may be to drool over I think that’s definitely enough drying for one day!
To conclude then, the patting technique is technically the safest and therefore suited to more pampered, swirl-free or soft paintwork but the trade off is that it won’t be able to adequately dry intricate areas that require a bit of movement with the microfibre. Drawing or blanketing the towel over the surface certainly looks the part and is a relatively safe and effective method for removing water from the main areas but it’ll struggle to soak it up from the sides of the car as well as any recessed parts. And while it should be undertaken with care as it’s technically the most dangerous, wiping is also the most effective at thoroughly eliminating rinse water from all areas of the exterior.
If you’re worried about inflicting damage during contact drying then patting or blanketing may be the technique for you, however if you can’t stand water seeping out from crevices and streaking the freshly washed finish then a gentle wipe down of a lubricated surface with a quality towel should certainly suffice. I probably end up using a combination of the three during most jobs which I feel gives a good balance between safety and absorption but it’s of course entirely your choice at the end of the day.