12 Tips In Washing A Black Car To Minimize Scratches And Paint Fading

12 tips in washing a black car


Generally, all car colors will get the same amount of grime, dirt, and scratches if driven in the same conditions and road. 

But, if yours is black, this dirt and scratches tend to get amplified. They are much more visible, especially under direct sunlight more than any other paint color. 

Today we’re going to talk about:

  • Why black cars get scratches, swirl marks, and fading
  • Tip you can follow to minimize damages

If you want to keep your black car’s dazzling look, this post is definitely for you. 

Let’s dive right in. 

Why Black Cars Get More Visible Swirl Marks, Scratches, And Fading

Swirl Marks

In movies, the wax on-wax off method can seem iconic. But in reality, washing cars in circular motion increases the swirl marks that get embedded in the car’s clear coat. 

Recommended Reading: 3 Effective Ways To Remove Swirl Marks On Your Car


Modern vehicles are painted thinner than they used to be. Unless you apply another layer of protection like paint sealant, paint protection film, carnauba wax, or ceramic coat, your car’s finish will be more prone to scratches. 


If you remember back in art class, we’re taught black is not an actual color, it’s the absorption of colors. 

This absorption quality doesn’t just absorb colors, but also UV rays. The rays cause the clear coat to thin. It results in paint fading faster than all the other colors. 

So now we know what causes scratching and fading in black cars, let’s talk about how you can minimize these damages.

12 Tips In Washing A Black Car

1. Wash The Car In A Shade

Like I mentioned earlier, black cars absorb light. Because of this, it reaches a high temperature that causes water or moisture to evaporate faster. 

If this happens, mineral deposits like sodium and calcium get left behind causing water spots. 

Avoid washing the car in direct sunlight. 

Wash Black Car In Shade


But what if you have no other choice but to wash under direct sunlight? Check out Tip #2.

2. Clean The Tires First

The tires have all the road grime and brake dust. If you clean this last, you’ll be blowing off the dust and dirt on the paintwork you’ve already finished cleaning and cause scratches.

3. Wash In Sections

Water will evaporate in hot conditions before you know it. So you have to finish working on your car before the water starts evaporating. 

You can do this by washing in sections. Rinse, soap, rinse and wipe dry on one half of the car first so you don’t leave watermarks or soap marks on the car’s finish. 

4. Pre-Wash The Car

This is the first rinse you do before you apply the car shampoo. Doing this step will remove loose dirt and debris from the surface. 

It also acts as a lubricant for the towel or wash mitt so it will glide smoothly on the paint’s surface. 

Pre Wash Black Car

5. Take Extra Caution In Drying Parts Unwashed Parts

This goes if you wash in sections. Drying any dry part, to begin with, can cause grit to get ingrained in the mitt or towel. This will lead to lots of scratches. 

6. Use 2 Buckets

One bucket is for the car shampoo and water and the other for pure water. The latter bucket will be used to rinse the towel or mitt before dunking it to the bucket with soap. 

This minimizes the contaminants sticking to the mitt that might scratch the paint or cause swirl marks.  

7. Less Contact, Less Scratches

The more you wipe the mitt or towel on the surface, the more chances it’ll get swirl marks. 

Use a pressure washer or car cleaning gun to limit surface contact. Instead of in-contact wiping to remove dirt and grime, with a pressure washer or a car cleaning gun, air pressure will clean the surfaces. 

8. Wash In Straight Strokes

Remember how a circular motion will increase swirl marks? Wiping the towel in straight strokes will remedy this problem. 

9. Do Not Use A Dishwashing Detergent

Dishwashing soap is one form of degreaser. It strips off the sealant or wax protection layer you added on the clear coat. 

Always use a car wash cleaner when washing the car to keep lubricity at maximum. This will keep friction and the risk of scratching to the minimum. 

10. Do Not Use A Brush Or Sponge

These are rough materials that can cause more swirl marks to form. It’s always best to use high-quality wash mitts and microfiber towels. 

11. Open Doors, Hood, And Trunk After Washing

Opening the door, hood, and trunk will ensure you’ll also be wiped off the entrapped moisture in hidden nooks and crannies. 

This prevents water spots from forming. 

12. Avoid Automatic Car Washes

It can seem fast and convenient but automatic car wash stations are a breeding ground for swirl marks and scratches. 

The automatic brushes that “cleans” your car will leave behind scratch marks because the grit from the previous vehicles it cleaned will be stuck on them. 

Recommended Reading: The Interior Detailing Process That Makes Your Car Good As New (In-Depth)

No Automatic Car Wash For Black Cars


As general rules:

  • Keep the surface lubricated
  • Use fine material for wiping
  • Avoid dust and debris from getting back on the finish
  • Wash under the shade
  • Don’t allow air to dry the surface

But how about we make this easier for you?

Here's an infographic you can go back to every now and then to check if you're on track with the best practices ins assign a black car. 

12 tips in washing a black car infographic

If you keep this in mind, you’ll be able to prevent scratch and swirl marks from forming and keep your black car as glossy and dazzling as possible. 

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