How to Wash a Black Car

Anyone who has ever owned a black car will know the struggles associated with keeping them looking their best. Dirt, water spots and swirl marks are much more noticeable on black cars than on other paint colours, especially in direct sunlight.

For the most part, washing a black car is the same as washing any other colour of the car. In some circumstances, however, special techniques and products can make washing a black car easier.

When washing a black car, careful consideration needs to be taken regarding the weather. While washing a car in direct sunlight is not ideal regardless of the colour, it is increasingly problematic for black cars.

Black cars absorb more visible light than lighter colour cars, hence they reach a higher temperature. When washing a car in the sunlight, water on the surface evaporates at a faster rate. When the water evaporates, mineral deposits such as calcium and sodium are left on the surface, resulting in unsightly water spots.

If you can wash your black car in the shade, on a cloudy day or in the morning or evening, this is going to be a massive advantage. Throughout this article, I want to show you how to wash a black car and get the best results from the time available to you.

How to Wash a Black Car in Sunlight

There may be circumstances where washing your car in the sunlight is unavoidable. Even in the shade on a warm day, water will evaporate faster, meaning special techniques may need to be used.

Something I will do to overcome the problem of a black car on a hot day is to wash and dry one side of the car at a time. This means water will not be left sitting on panels for more than a few minutes, reducing the problem of water spots.

I start by giving one side a pressure rinse to remove any loose dirt or debris. Next, I apply a thick layer of snow foam (Check out my guide on how to snow foam your car). Normally I prefer to use a thinner coat of snow foam that quickly runs off the paint, but in direct sunlight, applying a thick layer lets the snow foam dwell longer.

Once the snow foam has been left to dwell for a few minutes, pressure wash it off and carry out the contact wash stage on the side you have chosen to wash. A proper wash technique is important for every car, but especially so on black cars. Swirls and marring introduced by careless washing are much more noticeable on a black car.

A good car shampoo is essential for working in the sunlight, you will need something with good lubricity and high foaming capability that won’t dry out in the sun. I personally like Adams Car Shampoo or Simplewax Suds, as it can stay on the car for longer without drying out, but most car shampoos will work well here. Remember to frequently rinse your mitt out to remove any grit that has accumulated in it.

With the side washed, rinse the side of the car and dry using a microfibre drying dowel. Take care not to dry any parts you have not washed, as this could result in grit becoming engrained in the towel and causing scratching. Work your way around the car until it is completely clean and dry.

Decontamination Steps

Unlike white cars, black cars can conceal many surface contaminants, especially iron fallout and tar. Although they are harder to see, you can be pretty sure they are there. These will give the surface of the paint a rough feeling, will inhibit the gloss levels of the paint and will mean waxes and sealants will not bond as well to the paint, reducing their durability.

There are two aspects of decontaminations, chemical (tar and fallout removal), and mechanical (clay bar). I’ll not go into much more detail at the moment, but you can find full guides on how to carry out each of these processes, as well as some of the best products for the job here

Polish and Protect

One of my favourite detailing products on the market is Poor Boys’ Black Hole. It is a product that has been specifically designed to be used with black and other dark coloured cars. Black Hole is categorised as a ‘glaze’. A glaze is typically a liquid that contains fillers that are designed to fill up very fine marks in your paint.

Another good alternative for those based in the US is that Chemical Guy’s Black Light. It’s a very similar product to Black Hole and is just as good for use on black cars.

Poorboys Black Hole 473ml
  • Black Hole
  • Easy on / easy off
  • For dark coloured vehicles.

The paint will be as ‘glossy’ as possible when it is completely scratch-free. This allows light to reflect freely off the surface. The presence of swirls and dulled paint will result in a less reflective surface, meaning the car will not appear to have a high gloss finish.

The ‘proper’ way to fix this is with a multi-stage paint correction using a machine polisher, however, for many, this is not feasible, and may even be considered overkill by some.  

The glaze gives the surface of the paint a more even finish, allowing the light to reflect with great ease, thus giving better gloss. Poor Boys’ Black Hole also contains cleaning agents, meaning it will be able to act as a hand polish as well and can remove water spots.

To apply the Black Hole, ensure the car is clean and dry. Working in a shaded area is best, however, Black Hole can be used in direct sunlight, I have tried this and still got fantastic results.

Apply a small amount of product (about the size of a 10p) to a microfibre or foam applicator, this will easily be enough to cover an area of 1 square foot. Work the product into the surface using small overlapping circular motions.

With one area done, you can repeat in another section. It’s best to leave the product to haze off and you’ll see the product start to go cloudy after about 5-10 minutes.

A tip on how to tell if wax or glaze is ready to buff off is to use the finger test. Once the product has been curing for a few minutes, use your finger to make a clean swipe through the product. If the product is smeary and there is some left behind, you will need to leave it a while longer. If on the other hand, the product comes away cleanly, it is a good sign the surface is ready to wipe clear.

You will find if you are working in sunlight the product will haze much faster than on a cold panel, so keep an eye out for that.

Black Hole does provide some protection, but you should apply an extra form of protection over the glaze. This will also give the car better hydrophobic properties.

For more assistance on choosing a wax that works well on a black car, check out this helpful guide *Best Wax for Black Car article*.

If you have spent the time to glaze your car, the thought of applying a paste wax by hand may seem cumbersome, especially if you have time constraints. If this is the case, I have a product which I’ve tried and tested on my car and had great results.

Sonax is a German manufacturer who has been producing detailing products since 1950. Their Brilliant Shine Detailer (BSD) is an easy to apply spray protectant. It is designed as a top-up product, which means it will work well to ‘top’ the layer of glaze we’ve applied.

SONAX 287400 Xtreme Brilliant Shine Detailer, 750 ml
  • Quick paintwork care any time
  • Gently and thoroughly cleans slightly soiled surfaces without scratching
  • Improves the paint finish, and produces a smooth surface and a brilliant deep shine

To apply BSD, I tend to work with two separate microfibre towels. I spray two or three sprays of the product on to one towel and apply onto an area of paint. Two or three sprays should be enough to cover an area of about 2 square feet, but you can adjust the amount of product that you use if you think you need to. Using the second towel, wipe away any residue.

As a word of warning with Sonax, some users find the product can be hard to remove and grab to the paint. To mitigate this, make sure you work in small sections. This is a wipe on, wipe off detailing spray, so don’t be spraying your whole car and then move round to buff it off as it will dry and then be hard to remove.

These two products are designed by completely different companies, but in my experience, they work well together. The Sonax product provided excellent water sheeting capabilities which will help to keep your car cleaner for longer and make it easier to clean.

I hope this guide has been useful to you if you have any specific questions please do get in touch with the Prep My Car team via the Facebook Group, or you can contact me directly by Instagram Direct Messenger @eastantrimdetailing.


How do you wash a black car?

The surface of a black car will be the same as any other colour, a layer of clear coat over the black paint. However due to the fact the colour black can get so much hotter, it’s important to wash a black car in the shade. If this is not possible, you may want to wash the car early in the morning or in the evening when the sun is not as hot. If this is not possible, try washing and drying one section of the car at a time to avoid stubborn water spots.

Do you need special products to wash a black car?

You don’t need any special products to work on a black car, however, some glazes and waxes work better on black cars, so these might be worth investigating.

Can you take a black car through a car wash?

No! You should not take any car through an automatic carwash, these are notorious for scratching paint, which will look even worse on a black car. Instead, consider using a pay per use pressure wash at a petrol station, but do not use the brush provided.

Are black cars hard to keep clean?

Black cars do not attract dirt at a faster rate than other colours, however, the dirt is usually more noticeable. Regular washing using safe wash methods is the best way to keep the car looking clean. Applying a wax or sealant will also repel water from the paint, keeping it clean for longer and making it easier to wash.

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