Do Car Drying Blades Work?

When it comes to car cleaning, perhaps the worst part of the whole process is drying your car.

Drying your car is important, because if you don’t do it you’ll wind up with unsightly water spotting (read more here about whether you can wash your car without drying it).

One popular solution to making drying a car after cleaning easier and faster is the use of a “drying blade”, something that looks a bit like this:

Car drying blades can also be called “water blades” and “dry blades”, so if you’re looking for one in your local market, that might be the terminology that is used. Another, more generic term is “squeegee” – although this is often used primarily to refer to rubber/silicone blades used to clear excess water from windows. Car drying blades are often softer on the blade surface as well, to allow it to contour to the car’s panel work.

Drying blades are popular with many because they massively speed up the drying process (or at least that is the claim).

But do car drying blades work? And should you use one to dry your car faster? In this article we are going to answer those questions for you.

Does A Drying Blade Get Rid Of Water Quickly?

The advantage of using a drying blade is that it does typically rid your car quickly of excess water, speeding up the drying process and preventing the formation of water spots. 

For example, you can see in this embedded YouTube clip just how quickly a drying blade works to clear excess water from a car’s paintwork:

On the basis of quickly drying your car, a cleaning blade sounds like a great idea.

But it’s not all good news … keep reading before you rush out to buy one!

Water Blades Risk Paint Scratching/Damage

Although a drying blade will get your car paint dry (and quickly) there is a big fat elephant in the room that needs addressing.

When using a drying blade, you place your car’s paintwork at higher risk of scratching.

The reason for this is inherent in the way that a water blade/drying blade works.

To use one of these products, you drag it across the paintwork so the blade edge can effective scrape off the excess water.

The problem is that if you have any grit/dirt caught in the blade (which happens more often than you might think due to the soft and pliable nature of the silicone/rubber that is typically used) this will then be scraped across your paintwork, potentially resulting in unsightly scratches.

Even if you are very careful so as not to get dirt or grit on the blade itself, any contaminants still present on the paintwork of your car can cause the same issue. 

You don’t have to look far to find real world examples of people who have suffered terribly at the hands of the insidious water blade.

This video from the ‘Forensic Detailing Channel’ has a great demonstration and explanation of why drying blades can cause big problems in the scratching department:

How To Use A Water Blade/Drying Blade Without Causing Scratches

Step one: Don’t use a water blade. Dry your car with a clean microfibre drying towel that is instead designed to lift dirt and grit away from your paintwork and trap deep in the fibres of the towel/cloth (where it is unlikely to come back to the surface and cause scratching).

Step two: If you insist on using a water blade, then ensure that you thoroughly wash it off after every stroke/sweep, and then inspect for any residual dirt or grit. Also ensure that you have comprehensively rinsed off your car to minimise any remaining contaminants. 

Step three: Roll the dice, and hope you don’t damage your paintwork.

Water Blades Are Good For Windows

Although you shouldn’t use a drying blade on your car’s paintwork (unless you don’t mind the increased risk of scratches, e.g. you are cleaning an old beater car and just want to do the job as quickly as possible) it is something you might want to consider using on your car’s windows. 

Window glass isn’t prone to scratching in the same way that car paint is, so you can safely use a squeegee or drying blade with no worries whatsoever. Therefore, it can be a useful piece of equipment to have in your arsenal when you want to dry your car windows/wind shield after washing. 

After all, how many professional window cleaners do you see using a squeegee? Just about all of them!

Recap – Do Car Drying Blades (Water Blades) Work?

Car drying blades work to get rid of excess water from your car’s paintwork.

However, they are simply too risky to rely on in our view, because there is a much higher chance of accidentally scratching your paintwork (when compared to drying with something like a soft microfibre towel).

You don’t have to look far online to find stories of people causing nasty damage and scratching to their paintwork, often because a small piece of grit or hard dirt has got caught in the soft silicone/plastic blade and then has been dragged across the paintwork. 

While some users have no problems whatsoever using drying blades (and no doubt the comment section on this article will be inundated in due course), it does seem that there is a significantly greater than acceptable risk of causing damage to your car’s paintwork.

What do you think about water blades/drying blades? Do you use one? Would you avoid this type of product like the plague? Leave a comment below – it would be great to hear from you.


  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

    View all posts

2 thoughts on “Do Car Drying Blades Work?”

  1. Right, if a towel hits a piece of dirt it magically carries up into its fibres instantly and never drags it across the paint. And all car wash brushes, mitts, etc. are even more magical because they rub paint that’s quite covered in dirt without moving the dirt against the paint. I really don’t know why people who make car drying blades don’t hire the same magicians to cast the same spell on their products. Thanks for the warning! It’s clear logic like yours that makes the Internet *GREAT*.

    • Thanks for commenting. Realistically, towels/mitts etc can still get grit and dirt in them if you don’t wash them out properly, but I still maintain that the drying blade is inherently riskier because of the design.


Leave a Comment