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From cleaning countertops to wiping down your car, a chamois cloth can do everything a regular cloth can do — and more. Check out our favorites below!
When you hear the word “leather,” you might think of tough and durable material, one that’s regularly used to make clothing, handbags, and all kinds of accessories. What you might not know, though, is that some kinds of leather can be used as an absorbent. When treated a certain way, leather can absorb all kinds of liquids.
Enter the chamois cloth. While originally named after a kind of goat, the term now usually refers to any leather-based cloth made for absorption and polishing. Quality chamois cloths are easy on the skin, and can just as easily keep your house clean and dry. With so many options to choose from, we’ve reviewed the most popular chamois cloths currently available and put together a list. We’ve also included a handy buying guide below to help you understand the differences between various types of cloths and how to pick the right product according to your needs.
What are the leading chamois cloths of 2022?
First up on the list is this chamois cloth by Airlab. Among a chamois cloth’s various uses, one of its more popular applications lies in car maintenance. Chamois cloths absorb water and soap exceptionally well, making them great for cleaning and polishing off your car whenever it needs a wash. With its unique shape and 100% genuine sheep leather, this chamois cloth is the real deal. Its leather-based composition gives it great absorption properties, and it’s also both lint and streak-free. An important thing to note is that you should ideally clean the cloth by hand, and dry it naturally in order to preserve its condition.
Great for cars
Made from genuine sheep leather
Very absorbent material
Needs to be hand-washed
Depending on what you need a chamois cloth for, you may want to look for one in a particular size. Chamois cloths are available in all sorts of sizes, but not all manufacturers give you the luxury of choice. However, with this Sheepskin Elite cloth, you can choose your ideal cloth from four different sizes, ranging from 2.5 square feet all the way up to 5.7 square feet. This chamois cloth is natural, made from authentic sheepskin leather. You can expect genuine leather properties when using it, unlike some other chamois products that are made from synthetic fibers. It comes in a square shape that makes it versatile and easy to handle, but the larger the cloth size you choose, the more difficult it might be to handle.
Easy on the skin
Available in four sizes
Made from sheepskin leather
Larger sizes may be difficult to handle
Chamois cloths are usually identifiable by their iconic pale yellow color, and while many manufacturers prefer to keep it this way, some brands like to switch things up and give their chamois a little extra flavor. This Mighty Cleaner chamois cloth comes in a bright blue hue, making it quite easy to spot. This blue color can help you quickly and easily identify which cloth is meant for your car, out of the many that you might have floating around. This chamois cloth is made specifically for cleaning cars, and it’s even got a small plastic case that you can store the cloth in when you’re not using it. You won’t have to worry about leaving any scratches, and since chamois is lint-free there won’t be any leftover particles after you’re done polishing or wiping down your vehicle either.
Unique, easy-to-spot blue color
The plastic storage case included
Lint-free fabric won’t leave particles behind
The storage case feels cheap
These chamois cloths from The Original German Shammy are made in Germany, so you can expect some high-quality European craftsmanship with this choice. This is high-quality fabric, and you can even choose from a selection of different designs, including a camo one. These cloths come in sets of three, so if you happen to misplace one you can always whip out one of the two backups. This can let you use more than one cloth at a time: You can have one for your car, one for your kitchen, and one for anywhere else that might need cleaning. This chamois cloth is also machine washable, so feel free to chuck it in the washing machine when it gets too dirty.
Comes in sets of three
Easy to clean, machine-washable
Won’t leave scratches
Somewhat lack of absorbency
Seeing as how chamois cloths are a fairly simple product, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Amazon Basics sells its own line. Their cloth is made to be sturdy — it’s chemical resistant, and because it leaves no lint or streaks behind you can use it on virtually any surface. One thing worth noting: While this cloth is called a “chamois,” it isn’t made from genuine leather. While this might be a turnoff for some, others may appreciate the fact that it’s not made from animal leather. This synthetic chamois is a solid choice, and you’ll be able to use the cloth over and over with little to no issue.
Reusable and machine-washable
Comes in a set of two
Made from chemical-resistant material
Not great for use on cars
Buyer’s guide for finding a chamois cloth
If you want to keep your house or car clean, consider picking up a chamois cloth. This guide will cover some basic things that you should know about chamois cloths.
What does the “chamois” in chamois cloth mean?
The term “chamois” actually doesn’t refer to a type of material or color, but to an animal that lives in the mountains of Europe. The chamois is a fairly common species of mountain goat, and they’re known for their special leather that, when treated in a specific way, has properties that allow it to absorb liquids fairly easily.
Because of this, chamois leather has historically been used for cleaning purposes and the like. Most chamois cloths today aren’t made from actual chamois leather, but instead sheepskin. Why is this? The reason is simple-- sheep are domesticated animals that are far easier to obtain than chamois goats.
Types of chamois cloths
Chamois cloths can be made in a variety of different ways, so let’s take a look at some of the differences between them.
Authentic chamois cloths
Authentic chamois cloths are made from real chamois skin, and this type of cloth requires the skin of an actual chamois goat. It’s not easy to come by, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever need it in the first place since sheepskin and synthetic chamois cloths are better alternatives.
Sheepskin chamois cloths
When it comes to the more widely available chamois cloths, there are two different types-- sheepskin chamois cloths and synthetic chamois cloths. Sheepskin chamois cloths are just that, cloths made from sheepskin. This material is easy to acquire, making these cloths fairly affordable.
You might want a sheepskin chamois cloth for the consistent quality they can offer. Sheepskin chamois cloths are great because, no matter which brand or manufacturer makes them, you can always expect a certain degree of quality thanks to the very nature of sheepskin. It’s super-absorbent and gentle on the hands, making it an all-around solid choice.
Synthetic chamois cloths (Shammy cloths)
While sheepskin chamois cloth is made out of animal skin, synthetic chamois cloths are made from artificial materials. Also known as shammy cloths, these sheepskin alternatives have been steadily gaining popularity over the years for a variety of reasons.
Synthetic chamois cloths have the benefit of being very customizable. While you’re limited to sheepskin with the previous kind of chamois cloths, you can be a little more creative when it comes to their synthetic counterparts. Shammy cloths are often made with special colors, something that can’t as easily be replicated when it comes to sheepskin.
Another benefit to synthetic chamois cloths is that they're fairly affordable. At the end of the day, sheepskin is sheepskin-- while it might not be too expensive, it’s not exactly easy on your wallet either. This is another way synthetic products (with their artificial nature) differ from the genuine article, and you’ll often see shammy cloth prices a few dollars less than “the real deal.”
Then there’s the ethical aspect of it all. A lot of people simply aren’t comfortable with animals being killed for leather, and chamois is no exception. If this sounds like you, you’ll be glad to know that synthetic chamois cloths can give you all the benefits of a chamois without relying on authentic sheepskin products.
Which type of chamois cloth should I pick?
This really depends on your personal preference. Since you’re most likely going to choose between sheepskin and synthetic chamois, we’ll give you some things to consider for both options.
If you want a cloth that’s durable, reliable, and a good choice overall, then go with sheepskin. There’s a reason it remains popular, and many people prefer it over synthetic alternatives no matter how much cheaper they may be.
On the other hand, if you want an aesthetically pleasing chamois cloth or prefer not to support animal-based products, then a synthetic chamois is the choice for you.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter too much which one you end up choosing, as both types of chamois will work as intended. If you don’t have a preference, just pick one or the other — they can both help you achieve the results you desire.
How to clean your chamois cloth
While you’re mostly going to be using your chamois cloth for cleaning, it’s also important that the cloth itself is cleaned on occasion. After all, a dirty cloth won’t be very effective when cleaning. Don’t just toss your chamois cloth into the washing machine with everything else, though — make sure you’re washing your chamois properly.
Depending on the type of chamois you own, it may need to be cleaned a certain way. For sheepskin chamois cloths, the general rule is to hand-wash them. This is because the leather may lose its quality if it’s thrown into a washing machine.
Synthetic shammy cloths are a different story. Since these are made from synthetic materials, they’re sturdy enough to be machine washed, and you won’t have to worry about them coming out worse for wear.
Aside from washing, there’s also the matter of drying your chamois cloth. Drying can be done in many ways, but just as there are recommended approaches for washing there are also some things to keep in mind when drying. As you might have guessed, you’ll want to naturally dry sheepskin chamois cloths, while synthetic chamois can be machine-dried.
As a rule of thumb, always refer to the product packaging. Even if you own a synthetic chamois cloth, it may not be durable enough to handle machine washing or drying. The product packaging will usually mention this, so always give it a quick read before cleaning your cloth.
Chamois Cloth FAQs
Q: Are chamois cloths made out of chamois skin?
While the name originates from the mountain goat species, most chamois cloths sold today are made out of either sheepskin or synthetic materials.
Q: Why are chamois cloths popular?
Chamois cloths can easily absorb liquids, while also being gentle on hands and various surfaces, making them a popular choice.
Q: Are sheepskin and synthetic chamois the same?
While there are some differences between the two, both types of chamois will yield similar results.
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