The good news is washing a black car isn’t that hard. And the reward is a clean and shiny black car that stays looking good for years. With the right technique, we can avoid creating scratches, swirl marks, and water spots on our beautiful black paint.
Washing your car the wrong way is one of the main causes of swirl marks on black cars. These steps are key to understanding how to keep your car looking amazing.
We go into detail about how to make a dirty black car look spotlessly clean. While it’s possible to wash a black car without a hose, using a hose and pressure washer with a foam cannon is the best way.
Key points for washing black cars.
- Pre-wash your car with foam and a pressure washer.
- Use multiple microfibre wash mitts and or rinse your mitt regularly.
- Use a car soap that’s easy to rinse off and is very slick.
- Rinse off all soap before it dries.
- Dry your car with a microfibre towel.
First, get everything ready.
- Park your car in the shade and let the paint cool.
- Fill two buckets with water
- Use grit guards.
- Prepare foam cannon with pre-wash foam.
- Add some car shampoo to ONE of the buckets
- Use up to 5 microfibre wash mitts.
- Wheel iron fallout remover.
- Wheel cleaning brushes
- Quick detailer or spray wax.
- Microfibre drying towel.
Step 1: Wash your wheels
Wheels and wheel wells are often the dirtiest part of a car. Brake dust particles are highly abrasive to paint. Everything that touches them gets filthy dirty so it’s worth treating them as a completely separate task and washing your wheels first if they are very dirty. Use a dedicated iron remover product to dissolve bonded brake dust. Your car shampoo should be good enough for light dirt.
Use brushes and microfibre mitts that you keep just for wheels. Use a bucket of soapy water and throw it away when the wheels and wheel wells are done.
Once you have loosened the dirt with your brushes or microfibre mitt you can rinse it off with your hose or pressure washer. Use a wheel cleaner if your wheels have lots of bonded black brake dust. It will dissolve the brake dust so you can just rinse it off.
Step 2: Pre-wash.
A pre-wash is the most important step when washing black car paint. If you don’t have a pressure washer you can use a hose to pre-rinse your car. Try to get rid of as much mud and dirt as you can with the hose. Get the whole car nice and wet.
But, if you are like me, you’re obsessed with preserving the shine on your paint you can pre-wash your car with foam using a pressure washer and a foam cannon. Foam will soften and remove lots of dirt before you even touch your car. This will help keep swirls and scratches to a minimum.
The foam will soften dirt so you can easily rinse it away with your pressure washer. It won’t remove all dirt so you’ll still need to do a contact wash. But the contact wash will be much safer because almost all dirt that could cause swirls has been removed.
Don’t touch your paint when the pre-wash foam is working, just rinse it all off after a few minutes.
Step 3: Contact Wash
The lubrication you get from a high-quality car shampoo is important when you do the hand wash stage. Also, soft wash mitts will greatly protect the paint.
Using your clean microfiber wash mitts and a bucket of clean water with shampoo, start washing the car from the top down. Once you complete a section, grab another clean one.
Do the lowest section of the car last. Don’t scrub anything. Your goal is to loosen dirt so it can be rinsed off.
If your car is dirty around badges or window seals, use a soft detailing brush. Rinse the car down again with your pressure washer. Don’t let any soap behind
If you only have one mitt you can try using the two-bucket method. Get plenty of suds from your soap bucket onto your microfibre mitt and start washing your car from top to bottom.
As your mitt starts to get dirty, rinse in it the clean rinse bucket before dunking it back into the soap bucket. In my experience it’s better to use multiple mitts.
Step 4: Spray Wax or Quick Detailer Spray
A high quality car wax or quick detailer goes a long way to make a black car look good and only takes a few extra minutes. It helps water beading which makes your car easier to wash next time. It also adds that shine we want from our black cars.
If you wash your car more than once a week then you don’t need to apply wax every time. But if you don’t wash your car that often it doesn’t hurt to use a simple spray wax.
Step 4. Dry Your Car
Water spots look really bad on black cars. Drying your black car with a soft microfibre drying towel is the best way to avoid water spots forming. One of the key steps is to dry your paint once it’s washed and rinsed. Don’t use too much pressure. Use a spray wax or a quick detail spray to add some shine and protection.
Step 7: Tire Shine
This is a super easy step. A car doesn’t look clean until the tires look good. Most tire shine products work best on dry tires. It’s not worth spending a lot of money on tire shine as none of them last very long.
Step 8: Finishing touches
If you later discover some water has drizzled down from your wing mirrors you can use a soft microfiber cloth and some quick detailer to clean it up. Don’t use too much pressure.
If you discover you missed a larger spot of dirt you should use a microfibre wash mitt and some water and shampoo solution to wash it off. You can cause a lot of scratches if you try to clean it with a dry towel.
How to remove heavy grime and dirt from a black car.
Heavy grime on black cars will need extra work. A power washer will make it a lot easier and safer. A citrus degreaser will be more powerful than a regular car shampoo. It might be worth foaming the car multiple times if you really want to protect it.
But if it’s an old truck that you don’t care about it’s fine to just use a bit of elbow grease to get rid of the dirt. Protecting a car that’s already scratched is just a waste of time and money.
Things NOT to do when washing a black car.
- Don’t use dish soap. It strips away any existing protection and discolors plastic and rubber.
- Don’t use a sponge. It collects grit that will scratch your paint.
- Don’t use a brush. It collects grit that will scratch your paint.
- Don’t use just one bucket because the water will get too dirty.
- Don’t leave the car to dry naturally.
- Don’t dry the car with a bathroom towel.
- Don’t dry the car with a leather chamois.
- Don’t wash your car without soap.
- Don’t use a water squeegee to dry your car.
- Don’t scrub your car. This will cause swirl marks and the paint to fade too quickly.
- Don’t try to remove tar spots without a Tar Remover.
- Don’t wash your car under direct sunlight as it will dry too quickly.
- Don’t clean your tires and wheels last.
- Don’t let your mitts or towels touch the ground even when you’re finished.
- Don’t use the same things you used to clean your wheels to wash your car.
- Don’t forget to read the instructions for the products and tools you buy.
Q. Is it safe to use a waterless wash on a Black Car?
Some of these products have come a long way in recent years. But I’m still a little nervous about using them on a very dirty car. But I can understand the attraction of people who don’t have their own pressure washers or people who live in apartments.
If you want to wash your car with these make sure you use enough of the product to lubricate the dirt away from the paint. Also, grab a clean microfiber towel when it becomes dirty, and don’t rub dirt into the paint if you can avoid it.
But it’s also super convenient when you want to touch up your car when it’s not that dirty.
TIP: Using a Waterless wash and a self-service coin wash.
If you have access to a self-service/coin wash then you should use the pressure washer available there. But don’t use the soap or brush that might be available. Instead, follow these steps…
- Use the high-pressure wash to take the heavy dirt off and get the car really wet.
- Use your own wheel brushes to clean your wheels.
- I might use wheel cleaning spray if needed to remove iron deposits.
- Or I might use my wheel mitt with some car shampoo solution in a spray bottle.
- Use the pressure washer again to rinse off your wheels.
- Starting with the roof and using multiple microfiber towels using a waterless wash such ONR.
- Spray on the surface of the car
- Wipe in straight lines and in one direction
- Flip the towel over for each wipe so that a clean side is used each time.
- Apply tire trim.
- Apply spray wax or quick detailer with microfiber towels to add shine and protection.
Q. How often do you need to wash a black car?
A black car should be washed every two weeks to keep it clean and protected.
Brake dust can cause damage to wheels and paint so I like to get rid of that as much as possible. Sometimes if the weather is particularly bad I just pull the powerwasher out and give the wheels and sides of the car a quick wash Bird droppings can also damage your paint.
If you park in an area where tree sap or bird poo is a problem then you should wash your car weekly. If your car is well-protected with a good sealant it should be easier to clean.
Q. How to wash bird poop off a black car.
Don’t be tempted to wipe off bird poop with a dry cloth. Wiping a black car should be totally avoided. Use something like a spray wax or spray lubricant. Spray directly onto the poo and onto a damp microfiber towel. Let the towel sit on the bird poo for a few minutes.
This should lift the poop right off. Of course, this will work best if your paint is properly sealed and protected. When done you can also apply a sealant to the area to protect it from the next attack.
Q. How to wash a black car without causing water spots.
Water spots are caused by water drying on the paint. A very helpful tool is a small drier. This help blow the water out of hard-to-reach spots to help you dry the car. With more powerful blowers you can dry the car completely which would obviously be of great benefit as you won’t be touching the surface.
Dry and clean the glass with a weave microfiber towel. This helps protect the tinted glass. A special glass cleaner for cars sound not contain anything damaging such as ammonia and will leave a brilliant shine.
Add some tire dressing to give that finishing touch.
Don’t use a water squeegee to dry your car. It’s one of the 10 common mistakes people make when washing their cars.
Washing a black car causes scratches. But you can massively reduce them and preserve your shine if you learn these safe washing techniques.
- Never dry wipe a black car.
- Always use good quality car shampoo.
- Use microfibre wash mitts.
- A waxed car is easier to wash. (spray waxes are awesome)
- Use the two-bucket method or another safe method.
- Dry with a microfibre drying towel.