Chamois — pronounced “shammy” or "sham-wah" — is a type of leather treated with oil, generally fish oil, which gives it special assets. Today, there are two basic types of car chamois, which are natural and synthetic. While choosing the best depends much on personal preference, there are a few things you can compare that should help you reach a decision, such as performance, environmental friendliness, the amount of care required, and the cost.
In many areas of life, including performing car maintenance, some people just prefer natural products, thus they lean toward natural products on this premise alone. Yet there are other reasons why natural car chamois may be a better choice, such as having the distinctive ability to absorb grime as well as moisture. Such an ability allows for a more thorough cleaning job and will help avoid smears. This type of car drying towel is also incredibly resilient and will last a long time if given proper care.
To keep your car chamois in the best condition possible, it is best to avoid washing it in a washing machine and especially wise not to put it in the dryer. Some manufacturers recommend mild hand soap along with warm water. Wring out the cloth and allow to air dry without the use of heat or direct sunlight. Some suggest that chamois should be stored in a moist environment or container; while that may work for synthetic options, it is not advised for any type of natural leather product.
A quality synthetic car chamois is also very absorbent and helps clean, dry, and shine a car with less time and effort than other types of towels or cloths. Synthetic chamois holds up well against grease and grime, and some brands may be laundered. Some synthetic options may come in a plastic container in which they can be stored, even while still damp. Typically, a synthetic option will also be less costly than a natural car chamois.
When choosing a car drying towel, it is important to find one that is not only soft but also non-abrasive, to help avoid scratching your vehicle’s finish. Most people also want one that will help limit streaking. A car chamois, whether natural or synthetic, is very absorbent and can be wrung out to use again and again. A typical cotton towel, even when wrung out, will still retain a good deal of moisture and will therefore be less effective.