How to Clean, Care For and Store your Chamois Leather

Do you find your chamois leather quickly starts to fall to pieces? Have you recently purchased or received one as a gift and are wondering how do you go about cleaning, caring for and storing your chamois leather?

The chamois leather (“Shammy”) is an extremely popular choice for drying cars, boats, truck and motorcycles, but unfortunately, many end up in pieces in the bin through improper care and storage.

Popular belief is that a “shammy leather” should be stored damp in a sealed container or plastic bag to keep it soft. Unfortunately for many that choose to do this they quickly find that when they next come to use it, large holes have appeared or it has fallen to bits completely.

This is because real chamois leather is a natural substance usually made of sheep or lambskin and as such will rot if not kept and stored in the right way. Below I advise how best to care for and store your chamois leather.

Steps To Cleaning & Caring For Your Chamois Leather

So how do you go about cleaning and caring for your chamois? Simply follow the steps below:

    1. After use rinse your leather by hand in warm soapy water. Do not use dish-washing detergent as this will remove the oils from within the chamois. Instead use natural soap – a bar of pure soap that you would wash your hands with or pure soap flakes  will be ideal. Alternatively, a good quality car wash shampoo will be a good choice (see below) as this will also be gentle on your chamois and not remove too much of the natural oils, as a kitchen detergent would do.
    2. Once the dirt is cleaned out of the chamois then rinse again in clean warm water and re-lather some soap back into the leather – this will help keep it soft.
    3. Next gently squeeze out the excess water, stretch out and hang up to dry naturally – but not in bright direct sunlight as you do not want it to dry too quickly.
    4. Once completely dry, you should then “scrunch up” your chamois leather, rubbing it together or working it across a smooth hard surface. This “softens” your leather to make it more easily foldable.
    5. Your shammy can then be folded or rolled and stored in a dry container, but only when completely dry.
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Next time you come to use it, first rinse it again in warm water to soften it and remove the soap that was lathered into it before it was dried and stored.

If you follow these simple cleaning and care steps you should get many seasons of car drying out of your chamois leather. Also, see our post on the quickest ways to dry your car.

Video: How To Store & Care For Your Chamois

Recommended Car Wash Soaps For Chamois Cleaning:

Over To You

Have you got your own tips for caring and storing chamois leathers. Do you have a favourite soap product you use. Have you had any disasters in looking after and storing your chamois. Please share your tips and experiences with me and fellow readers in the comments section below.

Need a New Replacement Chamois Leather?

If you have discovered your chamois leather is beyond help, you may be looking to replace it with a new one. Below we’ve selected some of the best to consider:



  • Detailing Blog
    Posted December 29, 2011 1:31 pm 0Likes

    Is it safe for paint to dry the car with Chamois Leather?

    • admin
      Posted January 3, 2012 3:31 pm 0Likes

      Thanks for your question. Whilst it is safe on the paintwork provided there is no grit or dust still on the bodywork – we tend to recommend the plusher microfibre drying towels for increased paintwork safety.


  • Paul
    Posted November 11, 2020 4:12 pm 0Likes

    Regarding chamois, if you have one that is EXCESSIVELY dried out , is there a way to restore it?

    • robmobberley
      Posted November 11, 2020 5:04 pm 0Likes

      Hi Paul, thanks for your question. If your chamois leather is not too far gone it should regain its suppleness from leaving overnight in soapy water. Remember not to use washing detergent but if possible pure soap liquid or one made up from flakes if possible. I hope this helps.

  • dennis
    Posted May 12, 2022 3:39 pm 0Likes

    My chamois is very old but just started to use it again. However, it is leaving small paticles on the surface of my black car which is very obvious. anything i can do to prevent this or is my chamoiis just worn out?

    • Rob
      Posted May 12, 2022 9:06 pm 0Likes

      Hi Dennis. Thank you for your comment. It may be that your chamois has already degraded beyond use. However, it would be worth putting it through a clean and dry just to check. If it continues to break down then it is time to replace it. I hope this helps.

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