As with most working professionals, establishing an efficient routine is key. Of course, in the pet grooming space, the inevitability of unruly pups, missed appointments or unexpected accidents are known to derail the productivity engine. However, there are elements that groomers can control: the routines they establish in the work itself. With that in mind, having an efficient drying process is a skill that every groomer must perfect.
Although the drying technique that works on a pit bull won’t have the same results on a doodle, having a procedure in place for every coat type will pay dividends in the long run. Another essential component of establishing a strong drying routine is ensuring no steps are missed and improving grooming speed.
While there’s always been a debate between towel-drying, and using air dryers, the jury seems to have landed on a verdict. It’s no longer a toss-up for groomers to decide between using machines or manual labor to soak up the suds—it requires a balance of both.
The Importance of a Thorough Dry
With all this talk of routine, let’s back up and discuss why it’s so important to establish one in the first place. While all grooming salons simultaneously prioritize the pups, they trim and do everything in their power to provide the best clean possible, it’s—dare I say—tempting to skimp in some areas throughout the process.
I’ll give a personal example: After bathing my dog, I’m notorious for giving him a quick towel dry and letting the air take care of the rest. However, according to Carol Visser, a master pet groomer and certified dog trainer, it’s incredibly important to ensure a pet’s coat is thoroughly clean.
“Unless you are in a very arid climate, moisture left in the coat and on the skin can create a perfect breeding ground for fungal, bacterial or yeast problems,” explained Visser, in a previous article with Pet Business. “Dogs with allergies are particularly prone to these issues, but fully drying after bathing is important for all dogs. Even if serious skin irritations don’t ensue, slightly damp skin can cause general itching, odor and discomfort for the dog.”
And grooming salon owners also have to deal with the elements, so to speak, to contend with, namely humidity. The damp, heavy air that permeates salon stations is an inevitable part of pet grooming, and it’s a major factor that can impact drying time.
“An important condition that affects drying efficiency in grooming businesses is humidity,” says Greg Crisp, CEO of Double K Industries. “Grooming shops and mobile vans are invariably humid environments. High humidity in a grooming environment can increase drying time up to 10 or 15 percent. Dehumidifiers, widely available online, are an important investment which will pay for themselves in time and labor savings many times over.”
Towels vs. Dryers: The Verdict is In
Okay, back to the main attraction: Specificities of drying tools, specifically towels and dryers. First up in the ring is dryers, which are great for drying quickly and adept at getting under double-coated breeds.
“Professional grooming dryers generally have become more common, diverse and sophisticated than in the industry’s early days,” explains Crisp. “Groomers today can select from hundreds of different models, from numerous manufacturers, producing specialized or very versatile product offerings. Groomers are the beneficiaries of so many manufacturers competing for their business.”
Crisp continues that there are four primary determinants to drying, and one condition that also affects groomers drying dogs: dryer air volume, temperature, heat and airspeed.
“Those are primary elements in a dryer's effectiveness for any particular task,” he explains. “Misunderstandings and misrepresentations are common in the industry and accurate and concise information can help a groomer make sound judgments regarding purchases or product use.”
However, dryers aren’t the end-all, be-all in the drying arena. They’re best supplemented with towel-drying, which can help get rid of the initial moisture and leave an easier clean-up for the dryer.
“Dogs with short, sleek hair or shorter haircuts benefit most by the use of towels,” says Crisp. “Towels use no energy, make no noise that might frighten a pet and are washable. Towels also do not dry out the hair or skin as heated air may. Even when using a dryer on dogs with thick undercoats, such as some German Shepherds, Pomeranians, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels and more, using a towel first to remove some of the water will speed the process.”
However, it’s a luxury to have the space for both a drying machine and a towel, which is an area mobile groomers, in particular, struggle with, explains Vince Lapinski, president of CleanTools, creator of the Dog Lover’s Towel.
“Towels are ideal for mobile grooming because mobile groomers don’t have a lot of space,” he continues. “They’re an ideal product because they’re small, they are easily wringed out and you can keep using it. Plus, with the right towel—such as the Dog Lover’s Towel—you don’t need to have a lot of towels because they’re so effective. So that’s a beauty for the mobile grooming world—it’s so compact.”
Crisp agrees with the concept of piggybacking a machine dry with a towel dry, explaining the benefits of combining the two techniques.
“Absorption by towel drying for even the briefest timeframe at the beginning of the drying process can substantially reduce drying time regardless of the types of dryers used,” explains Crisp.
Additionally, towel drying is better from a health perspective. While forced air dryers are ideal for thicker coats and getting rid of the undercoat, they also present a potential hazard for both groomers and the dogs.
“High speed air from forced air dryers, even when considered realistically, should not be used too close to animal or human skin,” says Crisp. “Most groomers know the advantages of forced air dryers to blow water off dogs in the tub, penetrate heavy or double coats, for general drying and to blow out or straighten longer hair.”
Lapinski adds that in addition to potential safety concerns if handled incorrectly, many dogs aren’t receptive to the noise, often go into a “panic” mode and become uncooperative for the rest of the groom—eating up a chunk of groomers’ precious time.
“I think the general trend is people are using more of those blowers, but I think in the end some dogs can’t handle the noise from them—they just freak out,” says Lapinski.
However, when choosing the best towel to complement an air dryer, groomers can often get overwhelmed with all the towels available on the market.
"There’s too many offerings of the same type of product,” explains Lapinski.
With that in mind, it’s important that groomers look carefully at their suppliers to ensure the products they’re carrying are high-quality.
To help make those choices easier and learn more about the grooming options in the market, Lapinski encourages groomers to attend grooming-specific trade shows. “Seeing a demonstration is critical because it’s about product performance—people talk, and the best references are word-of-mouth, he says.”
In the drying arena, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices in the market—for both towels and dryers—which is why it’s essential for groomers to figure out what products work best for them and their needs. With the right tools in place, groomers can establish a strong routine that helps increase grooming speed while still delivering the results their clientele expects. PB