Our towels pack away so much water even camels get envious, but exactly how absorbent are they? I was charged with finding this truth, and it isn’t as self-evident as one would expect. Meet our five contenders in the “Griot’s Garage Battle in a Bucket” showdown, and then scan the results charts to see who came out on top.
The “best towel” question used to be a simple tug of war between micro fiber and natural fiber. Griot’s Garage offers options in each, and we’ve even introduced options that seek to offer the best of both worlds!
First, what is micro fiber?
Micro fiber is a man-made polyester/polyamide fiber that is split, resulting in a dandelion seed pod-like structure. But instead of floating away on the wind, these synthetic “fiber pods” absorb water at a physics-cheating rate. This fiber pod split creates strands several hundred times finer than a single strand of cotton, which enhances its ability to safely lift and trap dirt, and also substantially increases the softness of the final product. A win-win for car enthusiasts.
Not all micro fiber is created equal. Different grades vary in both performance and manufacturing complexity. Griot’s Garage uses the highest quality micro fiber, developed specifically for detailing applications. Since all our micro fiber is of the same high quality, it’s the weave that makes the products different…
Micro Fiber Drying Towel (11117)
Our Micro Fiber Drying Towel’s unique weave lays the fibers down, which compacts them, giving the towel more densely grouped strand ends, and vastly superior absorbency. This innovative towel has sewn-in pockets for easier holding in tough areas like rocker panels and grillework. I use it on large vehicles and sometimes on the upper portions of cars before switching to the Ultra-Thick for the lower sections. Works best when allowed to dry completely between uses. Size 25″ x 35″.
Ultra-Thick Micro Fiber Towel (11023)
Our Ultra-Thick Micro Fiber Towel sports a looped strand weave and foam core that acts like a collection pond to really pack in the water. I like the maneuverability of this towel, especially on low-hanging rocker panels, and many customers enjoy its heavier feel. Use it in conjunction with one of our water blades. Size 16″ x 24″.
Stay Soft Chamois (11101)
Traditionalists who prefer the natural approach will appreciate the Stay Soft Chamois. Made from only the finest, smoothest sheepskin, the Stay Soft Chamois is rinsed in warm water to ‘activate’ it prior to usage. This chamois delivers scratch-free, lint-free results even after being wrung out. The incredible thing about the natural chamois is how completely dry you can get it with a quick twist. One good wring will maximize its absorption. Keeping your chamois clean is important, so be especially careful of extra dirty areas and don’t use the chamois on wheels. It’s machine washable (in warm water) and should be air dried prior to storage. Size is difficult to measure precisely because natural chamois are made from a sheep not a sheet. A good ballpark is 25″ x 22″.
Dimpled Synthetic Chamois (15400)
A man-made version of the chamois, our Dimpled Synthetic Chamois is specially-textured to quickly and efficiently draw in water. It wrings out quickly and provides absolutely lint-free drying performance. It is machine washable (under 150 degrees Fahrenheit) and should be stored moist in the included plastic storage case. Size 16 1/2″ x 24″.
Micro Fiber Chamois (11310)
A modern twist on an old favorite. We have melded the performance characteristics of a natural chamois with high-tech micro fiber into one hard-working product. Soaks the surface dry the first time, leaving no beads or streaks of moisture. When the Micro Fiber Chamois gets saturated, a quick twist expels water and gets you back on task. Size 20″ x 30″.
1) Weigh each contender dry. 2) Place an empty wash bucket on the scale and zero it out. 3) Put the test towel in the bucket on the scale. Zero again. 4) Pour an amount of water, approximately three gallons, into the bucket to completely saturate the towel. Recorded the weight. 5) With tongs, remove the saturated towel from the bucket. Recorded the weight. 6) Without removing the water from the bucket, submerge and saturate the next towel in the water and repeat the experiment. The weight of the towel was then converted to ounces [pounds / .0625]. This method takes the wringing-the-towel process out of the equation, which is beneficial because it is difficult to remove all the moisture from each towel consistently. Each candidate was weight-tested five times and the results were averaged.
Absorbency is a big part of drying for sure but the size and maneuverability of the towel is also important, and plain-old personal preference also plays a part. We have broken down absorbency by total absorbed, absorption per square inch, and absorption by cost, in dollars per ounce absorbed. The best performers are bolded. Click the images to enlarge…
Hopefully this product information and absorption data will be useful in helping you make and informed towel-buying decision. Whatever tool you choose, remember that drying is when many blemishes and swirl marks are introduced into paint. Use care and top-quality products at this stage in the detailing process and enjoy perfect paint for years to come!
Have fun in your garage!