Chamois Cloth: Uses, Benefits & Care

The chamois cloth is an underrated tool that every motorist should have in their car cleaning kit. Super-absorbent, chamois leathers remain one of the most effective ways to dry a car’s paintwork, with high-shine, streak-free results guaranteed.

Not familiar with good old chamois cloths? Then you’re in the right place. This guide covers everything there is to know about chamois leathers, including how they’re used, what they’re made from, and how they can benefit your car care routine.

This guide will cover…

  • What is a chamois cloth?
  • What is a chamois cloth used for?
  • Chamois cloth vs microfibre towel for car cleaning

What is a chamois cloth?

A chamois cloth or chamois leather is a square of material used for cleaning and drying surfaces. In the past, they were made exclusively from leather, specifically goat or sheep skin, but now cheaper versions that you’ll see in the shops are mostly synthetic.

Chamois cloths are highly absorbent which makes them excellent for drying surfaces. Most people use them on their cars, but they can be used around the house too, particularly on surfaces that you’re keen to keep streak-free (think shower screens and chrome splash backs).

A genuine leather chamois cloth can set you back a pretty penny, but it’s worth it for a lifetime of efficient and effective use. Chamois leathers are made from a porous material that makes them perfect for absorbing large amounts of moisture, and this is an effect that manufacturers have been able to recreate with cheaper synthetic versions.

Buying a real leather chamois cloth might seem like an unnecessary expense, but if you take good care of it, it should last years and years. This, coupled with the environmental cost of binning synthetic versions after a month or so, means that chamois leathers are well worth it if you’re looking to build the ultimate car care kit.

Close up image of a cloth against a grey car

What is a chamois cloth used for?

Chamois cloths are used for drying surfaces after washing and rinsing. Since they’re super absorbent, they’re able to dry a range of materials almost instantly, with few passes needed to achieve a touch-dry surface.

Typically, you’ll find chamois cloths down the motoring aisle in the shops since that’s what they tend to be used for most often. If you want to dry your car quickly after washing it, either to avoid water spots or to prepare the surface for applying polish or wax, there’s no better tool for the job than a chamois.

Chamois cloths can be used for a range of drying applications around the home, car and garage, including:

  • Drying your car’s paintwork after washing
  • Cleaning and drying vehicle glass to achieve a streak-free finish
  • Drying windows and mirrors around the home
  • Polishing chrome and other high-shine surfaces
  • Removing lint and other particles from static surfaces

Women stood in on step ladders cleaning top of the living room window

Chamois vs microfibre cloth for car cleaning

A long-running debate exists about which is better for cleaning your car: chamois leathers or microfibre cloths. But honestly, we think there’s room for both in your car care kit, with each type of cloth suitable for different applications and uses.

There’s no denying the versatility of microfibre cloths. These synthetic cleaning tools can be used for everything from washing and drying paintwork to applying polish and wax, so we’d definitely recommend having a handful in your car care toolkit.

The only downside to microfibre cloths is that they’re not as absorbent as chamois cloths, so you’ll spend longer drying your car with a microfibre towel than when using a chamois. They also tend to become waterlogged much more quickly than chamois cloths, so their drying properties will diminish as you move from panel to panel.

Elsewhere, chamois cloths are much better for achieving a streak-free finish than their microfibre counterparts, making them ideal for cleaning and drying the windscreen and windows. They’re also great for buffing wax, resulting in a high-shine finish that’s more difficult to achieve with microfibre cloths alone.

To clear things up, here are the pros and cons of using both microfibre and chamois cloths as part of your car care regime.

Microfibre cloths

Pros

  • Super versatile
  • Affordable to buy
  • Can be used for cleaning and drying
  • Ideal for applying wax and polish

Cons

  • Not as effective at drying as chamois cloths

Chamois cloths

Pros

  • Super absorbent
  • Synthetic versions are affordable
  • Achieve a streak-free finish
  • Fuss-free drying guaranteed

Cons

  • Can’t be used for wet cleaning

Yellow chamois cloth wiping a dark blue bonnet

How to clean and maintain a chamois cloth

Not only will cleaning and caring for your chamois cloth extend its life and guarantee years of effective use, but it will also improve the results you can achieve. So, how exactly do you care for a chamois leather? And what steps should you take to achieve brilliant results each time you use it?

Preparing your chamois cloth before use

After you’ve purchased a new chamois cloth, it’s worth giving it a rinse under warm water. This will remove any dust, fibres and oil from the material and ensure it’s prime and ready for its first use.

From then on, each time you use your chamois leather, dampen it slightly before use. Chamois actually work much better when they’re damp, so moisten them and wring them out until they’re just damp before using them on your car or around the home.

Cleaning your chamois leather after use

After using your chamois rag, clean it thoroughly under running water until all dirt, particles, fibres, and other substances have been completely removed. It is possible to clean some chamois cloths in the washing machine, but check beforehand and only ever use a mild detergent.

When your chamois leather is clean, lay or hang it flat and allow it to air dry completely. Store your chamois in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to protect it and prevent it from drying out.

We hope this guide has helped you realise the benefits and value of having a good old chamois leather in your car care kit. For more car cleaning tips and advice, check out more of the Simoniz blog or take a look at our complete car care range.