Chamois leather is made from the skin of sheep or lambs. The skin is divided into two pieces---the flesh side is tanned with cod oil and used to make chamois, while the outer layer is used for other types of leather goods. Chamois leather is soft and supple and absorbent; it is able to soak up many times its weight in liquid. Its ability to wick dirt particles away from a surface makes it a valuable and highly prized cleaning tool.
Chamois is expensive, so you will want to give it the best care possible to make it last for many years. The best way to care for chamois is to keep it as clean as possible. If you use your chamois to dry your car, wash your car before you wipe it with the chamois. If you have an old chamois, use it to wipe areas of the car where dirt may remain, such as around the doors or under the fender. Wipe the rest of the car with your newer chamois.
After using your chamois cloth, rinse it thoroughly in warm water, removing any dirt particles it may have picked up. Use a mild bar soap to lather the chamois and then rinse out any remaining dirt. Lather the cloth with the bar soap once more, but do not rinse. With the soap still in the chamois, squeeze the chamois leather dry and then gently stretch it out. Hang the chamois cloth in an area protected from direct heat and sunlight. Rinse the chamois in warm water to remove the remaining soap and squeeze out the water just before you use it. Leaving the soap in between uses will help to keep the chamois conditioned and preserve its qualities.
Some people are under the mistaken impression that the best way to store chamois leather is to place it in a sealed plastic bag or other container while it is still wet. This practice will cause the chamois leather to break down and soon become useless. The chamois cloth must be allowed to dry out between uses. Do not use detergent on your chamois. Detergents will cause the chamois leather to become dry, brittle and less absorbent by removing the cod oil used in tanning, which protects the leather and keeps it soft.