The Easiest and Hardest Car Colors to Keep Clean: Complete Guide


Choosing the right color for your new car is a big deal, and it’s definitely wise to be thinking about keeping it looking clean and well maintained. In this article, I’ll be comparing all the most popular car colors, and ranking them in terms of how easy they are to keep clean. So let’s get started!

The Quick Answer

Lighter color cars are easier to keep clean than darker colors. Grey and silver hide both dust and dirt very easily. White is a good option, but can look dirty on the lower sections. Black and dark metallic colors highlight dust, water spots and imperfections so often look the dirtiest.

Now we’ve been through the basics, let’s take a look at each color individually and go through the pros and cons in terms of keep them clean and well maintained.

1. Grey

Grey cars are the easiest color to clean. They hide dust and dirt very easily and look newer and cleaner for longer. They are also easier to clean in hot weather because the panels will not heat up as much as darker colors, which reduces the risk of water spots.

2. Silver

Silver cars are one of the easiest colors to keep clean because they hide dust more easily than black and darker colored cars, but also do not highlight mud that builds up on the lower panels as much as white cars.

Another pro of silver cars, is that they again, like grey cars, don’t get too hot in the sun. This means that washing them on a sunny day is less of an issue when it comes to avoiding ugly water spots.

3. White

White cars are easy to keep clean because they hide light dust and dirt more easily than darker colors, like black. They are less easy to keep clean than silver and grey cars though, because they highlight mud more easily.

This mud often builds up behind the wheel arches, particularly if you’re often driving at high speeds in rainy weather. So white cars are generally easier to keep clean in hotter and drier climates, than in wetter weather.

One of the best things about white paint, is how easily it hides minor scratches and “swirl marks” that can be caused when washing the car with a sponge or brush. This means that white cars often look newer for longer, because the paint looks shiner in direct light.

4. Green

Green is a relatively easy car color to keep clean because it hides dust and dirt quite well, as well as mud splashes on the lower sections. Green is an easier color to keep clean than black, or other dark colors, but shows imperfections more easily than white, grey and silver.

Darker green highlight minor scratches and swirl marks more. Whereas, lighter green colors tend to mask them, because the white appearance of the scratch contrasts less against a lighter paint color.

5. Orange

Orange is a good car color to choose if you want something a bit different, but not too difficult to maintain. Orange colored cars often hide light dust and dirt quite easily in comparison to darker colors, but not as easily as white, grey and silver.

Lighter shades tend to hide dust more easily, whereas darker shades will mask mud on the lower panels better. If you live in a hot dusty climate, then lighter shades work best, but if you often drive in rainy weather, darker shades will look cleaner for longer.

6. Yellow

Yellow cars hide light dust easily, but highlight mud on the lower panels that builds up if you drive in the rain. It’s a relatively easy color to keep clean compared to darker options, but is not nearly as easy as a white, silver or grey finish.

7. Red

Red cars are harder to keep clean than white, grey and silver, but easier than black cars. Red paint tends to look dull quite easily if dust gathers on the surface. However, it masks mud on the lower sections more easily than lighter colors.

I own a red car, and was fooled into thinking it would look cleaner for much longer than it actually does. Red cars tend to catch people’s eye’s quite easily, so a lot more people will notice if the car looks dirty! But I have absolutely no regrets about buying a red car. The finish looks amazing, as long as you keep on top of it!

8. Blue

Blue cars are hard to keep clean, particularly if they have a dark metallic finish. Similar to black cars, blue paint highlights dust and water spots very easily.

Scratches and swirl marks that can occur when using a brush or sponge to clean the car are also more visible than lighter colors. Lighter shades of blue are easier to maintain and mask scratches, imperfections and dust more easily than darker shades.

These darker cars also heat up more in the sun than white and silver cars, so are more prone to water spots.

9. Black

Black cars are hard to keep clean and maintain because they show dust very easily and are more prone to water spots than lighter colors which do not heat up as much. Black paint also highlights scratches and swirl marks because the white appearance of the scratch contrasts more against the dark paintwork.

Finish Types

As well as the color of the car, the paint finish is also something worth considering.

There are four main types of car paint finishes: metallic, solid, pearlescent and matte. Metallic and pearlescent paint tends to look more glittery and shiny than solid finishes. Matte has become a more popular choice over the last few years.

But which is the best finish to keep clean and maintain? Let’s take a look at them all individually.

Solid

Solid paint finishes are the most common and inexpensive. They tend to look less glossy and shiny than metallic and pearlescent finishes. Solid finishes are easy to maintain and look cleaner when dust compared to metallic and pearlescent finishes.

Metallic

Metallic finishes contain aluminium powder which causes the paintwork to look glittered under bright sunlight. This effect is massively reduced when there is even the thinnest layer of dust on the paint. So if you want to keep a metallic finish looking new, you’ll need to clean it regularly.

Pearlescent

Pearlescent paint finishes are similar to metallic, as they have a glittered effect. However, this is caused by ceramic crystals, rather than aluminium in the paint.

This type of finish dulls very easily if there is dust on the surface, so again, if you want it to look shiny and new, you’ll need to clean it fairly often.

Matte

Matte colored cars look cleaner for longer, compared to gloss finishes like metallic, solid and pearlescent. However, they can be more complicated to actually clean because you need to use specialist products to keep the matte look.

If you want to learn more about looking after a matte finish, then take a look at this complete guide to caring for a matte car to find out everything you need to know.

Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t worry if you still have some more questions. Here are a couple of the most common questions about choosing the right color car.

What is the best color to hide scratches?

White and silver cars hide scratches more easily than black cars and other darker colors because the white appearance of the scratch will not contrast against the paintwork as much.

Are black cars more difficult to clean?

Black cars are no more difficult to actually clean than any other car, however, imperfections are highlighted more easily. This includes water spots, scratches, swirl marks and dust.

Take a look at this article on caring for black paintwork to make sure you’re getting the best results!

Check out my ultimate guide to washing a car without causing scratches for more swirl prevention tips!

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Don’t forget to take a look around the rest of the website to learn everything you need to know about keeping your car looking its best.

Heather

I first became interested in car detailing around 3 years ago and learnt all the main techniques on my very first car. I spend a lot of time detailing my current car, and trying to keep my family's cars looking presentable too!

Recent Posts