Are Black Cars Hard to Keep Clean?


According to Chosun Media, more than 20% of all cars in North America are black, but if you hear what a lot of customers say to you when you work in a car dealership it makes you wonder why black is such a popular color for cars. The most common complaint you hear from customers about black cars is that they’re hard to keep clean, but are black cars hard to keep clean or is this just another urban myth?

2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class

Black cars are no harder to keep clean than any other color, but keeping black cars looking their absolute best can be more challenging. When black cars are cleaned and polished to a high standard they can look absolutely spectacular, but the same amount of dirt that can make a lighter-colored car look a little below its best can look a lot worse if the car is black.

Are black cars harder to clean?

Cleaning a car is cleaning a car and what color it is really doesn’t come into it, that is unless you want to get it looking like it’s just come out of the showroom. Black cars can be polished to a level of shine and reflectiveness that most other colors can’t match, but it doesn’t take much for them to start to look a little grubby.

Any color of car starts to look grubby and unloved when a layer of dirt has settled on the surface, and I’d say that white cars show the dirt even more than black does. If anything, black cars can actually be easier to clean in some circumstances because it’s easier to see where you have and haven’t cleaned or polished them than it is with some other colors.

Do black cars always look dirty?

Black and other very dark cars do tend to show watermarks and streaks more than cars in lighter colors, so if you live in an area where you get a lot of rain your black car could look dirty a lot of the time. Even when you clean a black car, if you don’t dry it properly or polish it you’ll see loads of unsightly watermarks as soon as the water dries naturally.

Why does my black car look dirty after washing?

A black car can look dirty even after washing for the reason I just mentioned about watermarks, but it might also be because the detergent used isn’t particularly suitable and the water used might have contaminants in it.

If you live in an area where the water is particularly alkaline (hard) you could get lime left behind when the car dries, and if you wash the entire car using the same bucket of water and detergent it won’t be very clean by the time you get even halfway through the job.

How do you stop swirls on a black car?

The best way to stop swirls forming on a black car is to use a power washer rather than a sponge or mitt and a bucket. There are products such as snow foam that can be mixed with water and applied using a pressure-washer and then be washed away with clean water, and if a particularly dirty vehicle means you need to agitate to detergent then use a soft brush instead of a cloth, sponge or mitt.

Should you wipe dust off a black car?

You certainly can wipe the dust off a black car but be very careful what you use as a duster. If you want to dust your black car rather than wash it then always use a soft and clean microfiber duster and microfiber towels. Never use an old dry rag or t-shirt as you could scratch the paintwork and do more harm than good.

How often should you wash a black car?

You should wash a black car as often as any other color of car; it just comes down to how long you can stand it not looking its best. However, if you get serious contaminants on the paintwork such as tree sap or bird droppings then you should get it washed off as soon as possible to prevent it from causing permanent damage to the surface of the paint.

Do black cars show scratches more?

Black cars show scratches worse than any other color but it’s not necessarily true that black scratches easier than other colors. When I was in the retail auto business is was generally accepted that black paint was softer than many other colors, but different paints of all colors vary in durability. How easily the paint on your car is susceptible to scratches depends on the quality of the paint and the depth and quality of the clear coat.

How can you keep black cars clean for longer?

Using a really good, high-quality polish and applying it correctly will help your black car repel watermarks, and light dust and pollen may also be blown away as you drive to some extent to keep it looking cleaner for longer.

A high-gloss finish from a top-quality polish will also make it easier to wash away surface dirt from your black car when you come to clean it, but don’t be taken in by some of the outlandish claims some car dealers will make about the dirt-repelling properties of their expensive paint-protection products.

Should you stay away from black cars?

There’s a stronger argument for buying a black car than for not buying black cars. Black is an incredibly popular color with buyers everywhere and that’s often reflected in stronger resale values. Although it can be a bit of extra work to clean and polish a black car to get it looking its best, the results are definitely worthwhile when you see the results. Very little looks better or has more impact than a black vehicle does after a thorough wash and an extensive polish.

How often should you wax a black car?

You should wax a black car as often as you’d wax any other car, and that will come down to how quickly it gets dirty and the polish manufacturer’s recommendation. If you live in a dry, sunny state like Southern California you might only wax a black car once every three months or so. On the other hand, if you live somewhere with more inclement and changeable weather conditions you might want to apply a new layer of wax polish every month or even more frequently.

Why do black cars look so good?

Black cars tend to look bigger, sleeker and more imposing than the same model would do in a lighter color. The curves, lines and creases of the bodywork also appear to be accentuated by black paint more than with any other color. Black can also be polished to an almost mirror finish that’s close to impossible to achieve to the same extent with any other color of paint.

2020 C8 Corvette

Does black paint on cars age well?

Black cars don’t age particularly well because they show scratches, dents and other imperfections worse than vehicles in other colors, especially lighter ones. When it comes to the paint fading, however, black isn’t any worse than most other colors and it’s probably less susceptible to fading in the sun than red.

By the way, if you’d like to know about some of the very best products, services and companies I’ve found for buying, selling, and helping with vehicle ownership then please check out my recommended products and services page right here. As well as telling you where to go to get the very lowest prices on new and used vehicles, I also cover finance, insurance, parts, detailing and other stuff too.

Should you buy a black car?

For me, black is the go-to color for just about any car, truck, van or SUV. If you don’t have another color you’re particularly fond of and you’re struggling to decide which color to go for with your new ride, black is always going to be a great choice.

Black cars look sensational when they’re clean and polished and black is a color that suits just about any vehicle you care to think of. To be honest; when was the last time you saw any new vehicle in black and thought that black didn’t suit it? You certainly can’t say the same about most other colors.

For example, how would you like the idea of a new Cadillac Escalade or a Chevy Suburban in bright red, or how about any large SUV in a color like a sky blue? Some vehicles just look better in other colors, of course, and for me, there were plenty of colors that the Land Rover LR3 and LR4s looked better in than black.

One thing’s for sure though; you’re never going to get a buyer trying to beat you down on the price of your vehicle when you’re selling it simply because it’s black. You can’t say that about white, red, beige and many other colors, so black is always going to be a safe bet, even if it might take a bit of extra looking after to keep it looking its best.

Sean Cooper

Former retail auto industry professional for almost a decade and an automotive writer and journalist for the last 8 years

Recent Posts