black shiny luxury car in garage with smoke
Cars that are painted black can be mesmerizing when freshly cleaned and glimmering, but they can also be difficult to keep that way. Every speck of dirt and dust seems to show up. In other words: It can take a long time to get a black car looking perfect and mere moments for it to look dirty again.
The following system is used to clean test cars of all stripes and colors before a photo shoot, since it’s very quick and effective. You should be able to clean a vehicle from a lightly-to-moderately soiled state in 20 minutes (no hose or pail required).
There are, however, two caveats: First, this system doesn’t work outside in freezing temperatures, so it won’t help you in the winter, unless you’re in a heated garage. Second, this system is not helpful for deeply dirty vehicles. It is meant to quickly remove light dirt, dust, and smudges.
Tools and Supplies
To start, get a gallon-jug of water. Tap water works, but distilled water is better. You’ll also need a large spray bottle or two. Another key element of this system is quality microfiber drying towels. Spend a few dollars on good ones. It helps to have extras. The final ingredient is a waterless car-wash product.
Fill up the water jug most of the way but leave enough room to add 4.5 ounces of the waterless wash solution to the jug. Formulations may vary, so be sure to read the instructions before mixing.
Mix the two liquids in the jug. The contents should clean any car several times over, with great results… even if it’s painted black.
Gradually pour the resulting solution from your jug into your spray bottle(s). You’ll probably have enough left over to fill the bottles again, once they’re empty. Put the extra liquid aside.
Fold your drying towel into a square or rectangle.
Prep and Process
Using the spray bottle(s), thoroughly soak a single body panel of your car with the liquid. Don’t be shy; you want the panel to be dripping wet. Next, use your drying towel and wipe the panel dry by wiping in a single direction across the panel. Work the towel lightly, slowly, and carefully. The liquid you sprayed onto the panel has loosened the grip of the dirt, while protecting from scratches with its slick film. You’re trying to dry the panel, not scrub it. Use as light a touch as possible.
Fold the towel into a rectangle so that you have even surface contact of the towel against the paint, for more consistent drying. Do not ball up the towel. Simply wipe, in one direction, across the panel, and repeat until the panel is dry.
As you work, the towel will get dirty and wet. Simply re-fold it for a new rectangle of clean dry fabric to work with. You can re-fold the towel after each panel – or more frequently if the car is dirtier. Remember to re-fold the towel over itself so you’re working with as clean and dry a section of towel as possible at all times. You will probably require two towels per car, per wash.
Once all panels have been sprayed and wiped dry, the process is complete. The paint is clean as a whistle, slick, shiny, and dry.
You can spray and clean your glass, trim, and lights, too. If you notice any smudges or overspray, simply re-spray the panel and wipe dry once more.
When finished with the paint, your soggy towels can be used to give the interior a wipe-down and tidy-up, too. Refold them once more for a clean square, spray your solution, and give the dash, door panels, and other interior bits a good wipe down.
Important Note: These tips are for cleaning your car’s interior, not sanitizing commonly-touched surfaces against Covid.
If you’ve got chrome wheels, do them last. Spray the liquid onto your rag and wipe up any dust or brake pad material stuck to the finish. Refold, and repeat, for each wheel. Use an additional towel if needed.
When finished, rinse your towels – preferably in a laundry room sink, rather than a kitchen sink. Then toss the towels into the wash.
The real magic for black cars? No water spots after your first drive. If you’re using the garden hose, you’re filling every nook and cranny of your car’s body with water, which leaks out and leaves water spots within 10 seconds of driving after that coat of wax. By using a waterless cleaner and spray, those annoying post-wash water-spots are a thing of the past.