Black Car Pressure Washer

How to Not Get Swirl Marks on a Black Car

To prevent swirl marks on a black car, you need to wash your car by hand. Using an automatic car wash will not prevent swirl marks from forming.

Removing swirl marks from black cars can be difficult. With modern products and techniques, you can keep your black car looking swirl-mark-free for years. Most people don’t know about these techniques but they are actually straightforward.

  • Wash your car by hand using a safe method.
  • Use a pressure washer.
  • Pre-wash your car with foam or with a rinseless wash.
  • Make sure you use high-quality black car wash soap and microfiber wash mitts.
  • Dry your car with a car or leaf blower or a soft microfibre drying towel.
  • Apply wax or some type of protection regularly.

You probably already know that a clay bar can cause swirl marks and even scratches on black cars. So don’t use them unless you plan on polishing them.

Washing and drying techniques cause swirl marks. So learning the right way to wash your car is key.

Read more: How to Polish a Black Car

How to Not Get Swirl Marks on a Black Car 1
Swirl Marks on a BMW

Is it possible to completely prevent swirls on black cars?

It’s not completely possible to prevent swirl marks on black cars. I have owned brand-new black cars that still looked great one year later after careful washing and drying. But in year two it was possible to see light swirls when examing the car paint with a flashlight. But to most people, the car still looked new.

Safe washing and drying will help tremendously to prevent the appearance of new swirl marks. But, as all black car owners know, it’s almost impossible to keep them completely away. Anything that touches a black car can cause swirls.

Wax, sealant, and ceramic coatings help to prevent swirls because their non-stick nature makes your paint easier to wash. And if it’s easier to wash you’ll spend less time cleaning it which will help prevent swirl marks.

Probably the best way to prevent swirls on a new or recently polished car is with a wrap. But, instead of the clear coat getting swirls, the wrap will get them.

How to prevent swirl marks when removing dust.

Keeping your black car clean needs to be done with care to prevent swirls.

Some kind of lubrication needs to be used on a black car when removing dust. If you use a quick detailer you should use a lot of it and cover the whole surface. Use a very soft microfiber towel and use straight-line motions and very little pressure. If your towel gets dirty grab another clean one.

if the dust is heavy or it feels bonded to the paint you will need to use something else.

To remove heavy dust without causing swirls you should use a rinseless wash or waterless wash.

But the best thing to do is to fully wash your car.

Washing Stage 1: Pre-Wash Helps Prevent Swirls.

  • Pre-washing your black car goes a long way to helping you reduce the number of swirl marks you cause when you wash it.
  • Use a pressure washer and a foam cannon to get the best possible results. Rinsing your car with a hose also helps but it’s not as effective.
  • Foam will dissolve grease and dirt so you can blast it away with your pressure washer. 95% of heavy dirt and dust will be removed without touching your car. This dirt would have caused swirl marks when doing the hand wash stage.
  • Make sure you remove all of the foam with your pressure washer and not with a sponge, brush, or mitt.
  • Special pre-wash car soaps such as Bilt Hamber Auto Foam or Carpro Lift are specially developed for use as a pre-wash shampoo.
  • Washing wheels and wheel wells first is also a great way to keep swirl marks to a minimum. This is because brake dust is a major cause of swirl marks on your paint. I like to treat washing my wheels as a totally separate task. Throw away water used to wash wheels and clean wheel brushes and mitts separately. I will wash and dry my wheels completely before I start working on my paint. Especially if they are very dirty.

Washing Stage 2: Contact Wash Tips

  • Once you have completed the pre-wash you can begin the contact wash. You can use the two-bucket method or the multi-mitt method.
  • The shampoo you use to wash your car should be a good quality soap from a well know brand. The slickness of the soap will help prevent swirls marks and scratches.
  • Don’t let your microfibre wash mitt get too dirty. Either rinse it regularly in your rinse bucket if you are using the two-bucket method, or grab another clean mitt if you are using the multi-mitt method.
  • Don’t be tempted to scrub any section of your car that is very dirty. Swirls will result. Instead, use gentle pressure and lots of suds. Let it sit for a while and see if you can get it off with your pressure washer. Reapply as needed. Never use any scrubbing or pressure on your car.
  • Apply a spray wax after each wash. It will help prevent dirt from sticking and will make washing easier next time which will reduce swirl marks. Some spray waxes are very cheap and yet still give great results such as those from Turtle Wax.
  • Rinse your car completely with your pressure washer.

Washing Stage 3: Dry your car.

Black cars need to be dried to prevent water spots from damaging the paint. The best way to prevent creating swirl marks when you dry your car is to use a car blower or a leaf blower.

Modern electric and wireless leaf blowers are very powerful and have long battery life. Some come with special attachments for cars. These are special soft rubber attachments that help prevent scratching your car should you accidentally bump it.

An excellent example is the Ego Power+ 650 which is very powerful and has a long-lasting battery.

Blow drying works best with cars that have a ceramic coating or a coat of wax or sealant. This is another reason to use a simple spray wax when washing your car.

You can also use a soft microfibre towel to dry your car but you need to be sure your car is completely clean and you haven’t missed any spots.

Read More: Best Towels for Black Cars.

Dealing with dust on a black car.

To prevent swirl marks you should wash your car to remove heavy dust. Dry wiping a dusty black car will cause a lot of swirl marks.

For light dust use a product like Optimum No Rinse or a waterless car wash product like Meguiars Waterless Wash.

A quick detailer can be used for extremely light dust.

The type of cloth you use is also important. A super soft microfibre cloth will trap dust in its fibers and prevent swirls.

Preventing swirl marks when using a clay bar

Clay bars can cause extensive swirl marks and scratches. To prevent this from happening you need to take some precautions.

  • Don’t use an aggressive clay bar. Fine clay is softer and creates fewer swirls.
  • In cold weather, warm up the clay in warm water to soften it.
  • Use lots of lubrication. A dedicated clay lube is ideal.
  • Use very little pressure.
  • Don’t use a clay bar unless you plan on polishing your car.
  • Don’t use a clay bar if you don’t need to in the first place.


You can greatly reduce the number of swirl marks you cause if you follow some of the advice above. But light swirls can be easily polished out by a pro detailer. Or you can learn to polish your car yourself. It’s probably easier than you think.

The tips on this page might seem like a lot of extra work but once you get used to it it’s no big deal.

In summary, the best way to prevent swirls marks on a black car is to…

  1. Soak your car with foam
  2. Rinse off the foam with a pressure washer
  3. Wash your car with the two-bucket method or the multi-mitt method.
  4. Use a spray wax.
  5. Use a car blower to dry your car.

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