What is a Shammy Towel? & Why Swimmers Love Them

A swim shammy, often used by divers and swimmers, is a unique towel known for its exceptional water absorption and quick-drying capabilities. Due to its small size and distinctive material, it has become a popular swimming essential for water athletes across the globe.

In this article, we will explore the benefits and uses of swim shammies, highlighting why they’ve become a favorite among water sports enthusiasts. Whether you’re a competitive swimmer or a recreational athlete, understanding the advantages of swim shammies can improve your overall experience in the water. Read on to find out how.

What Is a Swim Shammy?

A swim shammy, also known as a chamois, shammy towel, or simply shammy, is a highly absorbent and fast-drying towel often used by swimmers and divers.

Typically made from poly-synthetic materials or chamois skin, this portable and versatile towel is perfect for drying off quickly and efficiently after a swim or dive.

Competitive divers and swimmers appreciate the usefulness of shammy towels for their ability to provide a quick and comfortable dry off experience.

The swim shammy helps to ensure that divers are not only comfortable but also safe when performing their dives, as a wet diver can slip more easily when climbing out of the pool or preparing for a dive.

Although swim shammies are often associated with divers, they are also used by other swimmers who appreciate the rapid-drying and compact nature of these towels.

Being lightweight, easy to wring out, and quick to dry, swim shammies have become a popular choice for swimmers of all levels.

Types of Swim Shammies

Microfiber Shammies

Microfiber shammies are made from a blend of polyester and polyamide, and are softer and more comfortable against the skin than PVA shammies.

These shammies are lightweight and easy to wring out, making them a popular choice for individuals who want something that dries quickly and can be used multiple times in one session.

Additionally, microfiber shammies are typically larger than PVA shammies, providing more surface area for drying off. Some popular examples of microfiber shammies include the Flow Microfiber Swim Chamois and the OlimpiaFit Quick Dry Towel.

PVA Shammies

PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) shammies are another popular type of swim shammy. These shammies are made from synthetic material with a sponge-like texture, making them incredibly absorbent and easy to wring out.

Some popular examples of PVA shammies include the Flow PVA Swim Chamois and the Tough Swim Chamois.

Both microfiber and PVA shammies serve swimmers well in drying off quickly and efficiently at the pool. Natural materials like bamboo or cotton can also be used to make shammies, but may not be as absorbent as synthetic materials such as PVA.

Benefits of Using a Swim Shammy


One of the main advantages of using a swim shammy is its quick-drying property. A swim shammy is designed to absorb water quickly and efficiently, allowing you to dry off faster than with a typical towel.

This is especially useful for swimmers and divers who need to dry off quickly between events or training sessions, otherwise they end up shivering.

Not only does it quickly dry you off, but after wringing out the excess water, it can dry incredibly quickly itself. Just make sure to leave it in a mesh bag so that it gets some ventilation.

Compact and Lightweight

Swim shammies are compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry around in your swim bag or backpack. Unlike bulky towels, shammies take up less space and won’t weigh you down.

This makes them a preferred choice among competitive swimmers and divers, who often have to travel to different pools for practices and meets. It’s a good choice if you’re traveling in general – shammies are a godsend when you’re abroad with limited bag space.


Another benefit of using a swim shammy is its reusability. These chamois towels can be used multiple times and still maintain their effectiveness in drying you off. Simply wring out the excess water, and your shammy is ready for another use. Moreover, swim shammies are easy to clean and maintain, ensuring that they remain in good condition even after repeated use.


Swim shammies are not just useful for drying off after swimming or diving – they can also be used for a variety of other purposes! In fact, their versatility is one of the reasons why they have become so popular among athletes and non-athletes alike.

One common use for swim shammies is cleaning equipment. Because they are highly absorbent and quick-drying, shammies are great for wiping down wet or damp equipment like snorkels, masks, and fins. They can also be used to clean other wet surfaces like boats, kayaks, and paddleboards.

Another use for swim shammies is as a towel for outdoor activities like camping or hiking. Because they are lightweight and easy to pack, shammies are a great alternative to traditional towels for people who are on the go. They can be used to dry off after a swim in a lake or river, or to wipe down a tent or other camping gear.

Swim shammies can also be used for household tasks like cleaning windows, mirrors, and other surfaces. Because they are highly absorbent and don’t leave streaks, they are a great alternative to paper towels or traditional cleaning cloths. Plus, they can be washed and reused over and over again, making them an eco-friendly choice.

Finally, some people even use swim shammies as a yoga mat towel. Because they are quick-drying and absorbent, they can help prevent slipping and sliding during a sweaty yoga session. They are also easy to clean and can be rolled up and stored in a yoga bag for easy transport.

So whether you’re a swimmer, a camper, a yoga enthusiast, or just someone who wants a versatile and practical towel, a swim shammy is definitely worth considering!

How to Clean a Shammy Towel

Washing and Drying

After each use, it is crucial to rinse your swim shammy thoroughly with fresh water. This helps remove any lingering chlorine, contaminants, or saltwater that can reduce the lifespan of your shammy.

To clean your shammy, you can either place it in a washing machine on a gentle cycle using cold water and traditional detergent or hand wash it with soap and warm water.

By thoroughly cleaning your shammy towel, you can get rid of bacteria that can cause black mold as well as prevent odors from lingering.

Unlike a regular towel, never put your shammy in the dryer as this can cause damage to the material and cause it to shrink. Instead, hang your shammy to air dry in a well-ventilated location, away from direct sunlight, after washing.

Storage Tips

When your shammy is fully dry, it may become hard and stiff. To make it soft and pliable again, simply dampen it before your next use.

For long-term storage, avoid folding your swim shammy while it’s damp, as the remaining moisture can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. Always ensure it is completely dry before folding or rolling it up for storage.

Additionally, store your shammy in a well-ventilated area or in a mesh bag, as this allows for better airflow and prevents the development of odors and bacteria.

Swim Shammy Best Practices

Swim shammies are an essential item for swimmers and divers when it comes to drying off quickly and effectively after a swim session. To make the most out of your swim shammy, follow these best practices:

Before using your swim shammy for the first time, rinse it under clean water and wring it out to activate its absorbency.

Once activated, pat yourself dry with the shammy. Avoid rubbing your skin too hard as this can cause irritation. Instead, gently dab or press it on your skin to absorb the water.

After each use, rinse your swim shammy thoroughly with fresh water to remove any chlorine or other pool chemicals. Squeeze out the excess water, and allow it to air dry completely. This will help prevent the growth of bacteria and maintain the absorbency of the shammy.

Store your swim shammy in a well-ventilated area when not in use, away from direct sunlight. If your swim shammy starts to feel stiff or becomes less effective, simply rinse it thoroughly and wring it out again to reactivate its absorbency.

Finally, remember that a swim shammy doesn’t necessarily replace your other towels. You can still use a regular cotton or terrycloth towel to dry off after showering.

Last update on 2024-04-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API