Chamois or shammy — call it what you want, but these drying cloths are just what you need to finish your washdown routine. Originally made from oil-tanned goat or sheep skin, these leather “cloths” are increasingly hard to find, so we decided to take a look at synthetics. We cut all the samples to the same size and measured the amount of water absorbed, as well as checked for drying and streaking.
Griot’s Synthetic Chamois Model 15400
The Wet: A dimpled synthetic towel, this product soaked up the most water and left the test surface almost dry. A second quick wipe did the job admirably (absorbed 17 ounces).
The Dry: Dries stiff and crunchy, much like the original leather product.
Shurhold PVA Towel Model 220
The Wet: A polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) towel that has the feel of a natural leather chamois, this product produced the best streak-free drying (absorbed 12 ounces).
The Dry: When first opening, there’s an unpleasant odor, probably inherent to the chemical makeup of the product. Thankfully, it dissipates after use.
Meguiar’s Water Magnet Model X2000
The Wet: A waffle-weave microfiber drying towel from the folks who know vehicle surfaces better than anyone, it’s super soft and stays that way after doing a good job of streak-free drying (absorbed 10 ounces).
The Dry: Claims of gulping more than terry towels are correct, but it doesn’t drink as much as the other test products.
The Real Deal
If you want to kick it old school, you can still get a leather chamois, like the Griot’s Stay Soft Chamois, Model 11101. We tested this as well.
Although slightly larger than the tested synthetics, it is wonderfully soft and does a good job of drying without streaking. It absorbed 12 ounces, less than Griot’s synthetic towel. If you are a purist, you know that “natural” has its price. This item comes in at a whopping $33. Plus it dries stiff, like an old pair of Top-Siders.