Are Black Cars Hard To Keep Clean? (Regrets)

Image Credit: mstandret via Envato Elements

Image Credit: mstandret via Envato Elements

Are Black Cars Hard To Keep Clean? (Regrets)


It’s widely accepted that black cars are the worst color car to keep clean. The best car color to keep clean is a little more debatable but in my personal experience, a metallic silver is the easiest color to keep clean.

Look, every car is hard to keep clean. It’s just a matter of which ones show dirt and scratches the easiest. Yes, black cars show scratches and dirt very well, especially in direct sunlight.

But black car paint looks stunning. I’ve had a few black cars and while I may have had some regrets from time to time, they usually made up for it when it was spotless and scratch free.

If you’re considering buying a car with black paint, let’s go over how to make your life simpler and easy to keep your car cleaner looking with less effort.

Are Black Cars Hard To Keep Clean?

Black cars show dust, dirt, and swirl marks more easily because dark colors provide the best contrast to make these contaminants and imperfections stand out. Black being the darkest car color makes black cars the hardest to keep looking clean.

Lighter color vehicle paint will hide dirt and dust far better. Light metallic colors like silver paint are especially good at hiding paint defects and road grime buildup.

Why Are Black Cars Hard To Keep Clean?

Glossy black paint provides more contrast against both the typical colors of light dust, dirt, and road grime that accumulate as well as swirl marks and light scratches.

You, like me, might have expected the opposite, but it isn’t true. Lighter colors are better at hiding dirt. Especially lighter colors like silver with a metallic flake that creates a bit of visual texture for the dirt to hide within.

I just sold my black car a few months ago and bought a white car. White cars seem like they would show dirt and road grime really well, but you’d be wrong.

White cars can get surprisingly dirty and it’s not as apparent until you get closer. Black cars can collect a small amount of light dust and dirt and look filthy from a distance.

We can make some valuable suggestions about how to keep black cars looking cleaner longer, how to prevent swirls and scratches, and how to make washes quicker and easier.

Restored Paint (Left) / Neglected Paint (Right)
Car Wash Scratched My Car! What To Do Now?
Image Credit: DetailDIY

How To Wash A Black Car Without Water Spots And Minor Scratches

The most important aspect to owning a black car is knowing how to wash it without creating water spots or light scratches.

It’s also important to know how to wash your car efficiently since you’ll likely need to wash it more frequently if you want to maintain that striking appearance and keep environmental contaminants off of the paint surface.

There are two car washing methods all black car owners should know well:

Touchless Method

The overview of the touchless car wash method is that it is designed to eliminate opportunities for causing scratches in your clear coat.

You spray your car with a pH neutrals snow foam from a pressure washer and allow it to dwell for 5 minutes or so to break down the bonds that road grime has with the paint. You then rinse it off with the pressure washer and dry it with a car blower before the water dries. It’s critical to not let your car air dry to avoid water spots.

This method is also easier to perform, and honestly kinda fun, which makes it more likely you won’t procrastinate.

The downside is that it isn’t very effective for washing a very dirty car. But it is great for easy washes in-between more thorough washes.

Be sure and read our detailed article on the Touchless Car Wash Method.

2 Bucket Method

The two bucket car wash method involves, as you may have guessed, two buckets.

The purpose is one bucket contains soapy water and the other is just water to be used as a rinse bucket for your microfiber wash mitt.

This method is very similar to a typical hand car wash, but it emphasizes using products and techniques to minimize opportunities for causing scratches in your clear coat.

A grit guard is recommended for at least your rinse bucket but it makes sense to have one in each.

I personally try to incorporate as many of the touchless method techniques into my two bucket hand wash process to help reduce the chance of scratches or swirl marks.

Be sure and read our detailed article on the Two Bucket Car Wash Method.

How Often Should You Wash A Black Car?

Black cars will require more frequent washes, but the frequency you should wash yours will depend on where you live and how dirty it gets.

Some people find it necessary to wash their black cars every week. Others are more willing to put up with a slightly more dirty black vehicle and will only do a manual car wash by hand every 2 or 4 weeks.

If you want to reduce how often you should wash your black car, keep reading. The trick is the products and techniques we cover in the next section on keeping your car clean between washes.


How To Keep A Black Car Clean Between Washes

There are two ways to make keeping your car clean longer between washes. As we’ve already discussed, a black car will look dirtier than it really is simply because of the car color.

Coating the paint with a ceramic coating will help keep the car’s exterior clean naturally due to the hydrophobic properties that cause beading water to roll off the finish and prevent bird droppings, tree sap, and other environmental contaminants from bonding with the paint and causing permanent damage.

Quick detailers and waterless washes can be performed to quickly and easily remove dust and dirt before it builds up to a point that will make the vehicle finish look dirty.

These products contain lubricants that prevent scratches on your clear coat but allow you to do maintenance cleaning between washes to reduce the frequency of hand washes.

Waterless Wash & Quick Detailer Spray

Waterless wash and quick detail sprays are similar products but have different purposes.

Applying a quick detailer spray after touchless car wash can help boost the hydrophobic properties of the finish help keep black cars cleaner longer between washes.

A waterless wash is a great way to touch up your car’s exterior between real washes. Waterless wash contains lubricants that allow you to wipe down the paint without scratching the finish. A waterless wash isn’t meant for very dirty paint, but it is ideal for dust and light dirt buildup.

For a more detailed explanation, check out our article on the differences between waterless wash and quick detailer.

Hydrophobic Ceramic Coating

Ceramic coatings are great to use on black cars. A ceramic coating is a replacement for car wax that is much more durable and extremely hydrophobic.

Hydrophobic coatings force water to bead up and easily run off your car’s paint. When water, whether rain, sprinklers, or car wash solution, dries on your finish it can cause water spots and leave behind dirt and road grime.

When it beads up and rolls away, it takes the hard water minerals, dust, and dirt with it. This helps to keep your car looking clean longer without you needing to do anything to help keep it that way.

Of course your black car will begin looking dirty even with a ceramic coat applied to the exterior. But it will help keep it looking cleaner longer than with lesser waxes and paint sealants.

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How To Prevent Swirl Marks And Scratches On Black Car Paint

Light scratches and swirls can quickly dull new black paint. Surface scratches in the clear coat of black paint shows very easily and makes black car paint look old and weathered.

Avoiding these light scratches is critical to keeping your black car paint looking smooth as glass for as long as possible.

Here are some tips and methods to consider.

Scratch-Resistant Ceramic Coating

In addition to ceramic coatings being extremely hydrophobic, they are also scratch resistant. I don’t want to overstate the ability of ceramic protectants, but they are a great tool to help reduce light scratch buildup over time on your paintwork.

There are pros and cons to ceramic coatings but overall they do a very good job of protecting black vehicles and reduce the number of surface scratches.

Microfiber Towels

Using microfiber towels and wash mitts anytime you physically touch the paintwork on black cars will significantly reduce the chance of scratching the finish.

Microfiber is the most gentle product to use and traps dirt particles in between the microfibers where they are much less likely to get rubbed against the clear coat and cause scratches in the paintwork.


Do Black Cars Scratch Easily?

Black cars don’t scratch any more easily than any other car color. The difference is that black provides a good contrast background for swirls and scratches in the clear coat layer of automotive paint.

This just means that it is more important to use every precaution you have available to reduce the opportunity to cause light scratches in your paintwork.

How Do You Dust A Black Car Without Scratching It?

Black vehicles require the most care to avoid scratching because they will make the scratches more easily seen.

It’s very easy to cause scratches in any car’s exterior. The top clear layer of paint is very soft and light scratches are easily created in it even by simply touching it.

You shouldn’t use cotton towels or t shirt material to wipe down the exterior. You should also avoid the use of brushes. Even a soft brush can scratch if not used extremely carefully.

Only microfiber should be used when physically touching the surface of your car’s paint. And even then it should be done with the addition of lubrication of some kind.

For instance, I would avoid the use of dusters like the well known California Duster even.

Waterless Wash

Waterless wash is one great method for removing dust quickly and easily from your car’s finish. Lubricants in waterless wash products are designed specifically to allow you to perform touchup washes with just a microfiber towel.

Touchless Car Wash

A safer method is to do a quick touchless car wash. If you have the proper tools, the touchless wash method is very quick and easy to perform. It’s also the best way to perform a touchup wash to remove dust and light dirt without causing swirls or scratches.


Black Cars And Automatic Car Washes

An automatic car wash, especially ones that use brushes, can easily cause scratches in your finish. They’re convenient but the buildup of light scratches will prevent you from being able to create a high gloss finish due to the dulling effect of the scratch buildup. There are 3 basic automatic car wash types. Let’s go over each one briefly.

Spinning Brush

Spinning brushes create a lot of force when they come into contact with your paint. The force has be benefit of more easily removing stubborn road grime and dirt, but at a cost. It will almost certainly cause fine scratches in the finish.

These spinning brushes could be urethane bristles, natural fibers, or microfiber cloth. No matter the material, you run a very strong risk of dulling your paint.

Microfiber Curtain

Microfiber curtain car washes gently sway back and forth as your vehicle is moved through the car wash. This type of automatic car wash reduces the chance of causing clear coat scratches, but it doesn’t eliminate the chance. There’s still a high likelihood that you’ll end up with some light damage.


Just like the touchless method of washing your car at home, the touchless automatic car washes rely on strong detergents and air blowers to clean and dry your car or truck.

The cleaning solutions used in these car washes are much stronger than those you’d use at home and can be harsh on your finish, but should be more than safe in moderation.


Conclusion: Will I Regret Buying A Black Car?

Most car buyers don’t give much thought to keeping their black car clean when they purchase it. They just fall in love with the looks.

If you go into the ownership of black cars well informed about what is required to keep them clean and looking new, you’ll be far less likely to regret your decision.

The topics we’ve covered in this article will not only help you keep your car cleaner more easily, but will keep it looking newer longer due to less surface damage to the paint.

Good luck and happy detailing.

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