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Care of Matte or Low-Gloss (Satin) Paint Finishes

A matte or low-gloss (satin) finish is a unique exterior finish that gives your vehicle a distinctively different appearance.

It requires special care to maintain its unique look.
A low-gloss finish is different from other automotive paints. Standard high-gloss paints use a clearcoat finish that reflects light and gives a glass-like or shiny appearance. A matte or low-gloss finish uses a different type of coating that diffuses light, causing the flat or dull appearance.
Unlike a standard high-gloss coating, damage to a low-gloss coating caused by scratches or aggressive cleaning cannot be polished or buffed out. Once an area becomes damaged or glossy, the original matte or low-gloss appearance cannot be restored.
The specialist nature of these paint finishes does mean that they require a little more care than ‘regular’ gloss or metallic paint coatings.

General Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts

Use the two-bucket method, or a handheld foam gun to wash the vehicle by hand.
Use a wax-free, pH neutral, car washing shampoo.
The car shampoo needs to be wax-free because the wax in normal vehicle shampoo will create a mottled and cloudy finish. The pH neutral part will help avoid any potential damage caused by the soap.
Remove bird droppings insect remains, tar spot and road dirt as soon as you can to prevent damage to the matte finish.
Use alcohol-based window cleaner for or a mix of 50% alcohol and 50% deionized water for basic surface bodywork clean up.
Use soft, clean microfibre towels and wash mitts when caring for a matte/low gloss surface.


Do not
use any type of wax, polish, detail spray, or any products made for a standard, glossy finish.
Do not use products that are even mildly abrasive, such as rubbing compounds or glazes.
Do not use mechanical/electric buffers or polishers.
Do not use commercial car wash facilities and/or their finish enhancement/protection products. Places that use mechanical brushes or towels can damage the low-gloss finish.
Do not use brush or sponge when washing
Do not use terrycloth (e.g., a bath towel), cloth, or paper towels when washing or drying.
Do not rub the finish with any force. This will burnish the finish, causing a shiny spot that is perpetual.
Do not wash or dry/wipe vehicle using a circular motion. Lightly wipe the vehicle in a forward and backward motion.

Spot/local Cleaning

Always test cleaning products in unseen area before using.
Apply cleaner to both the microfibre towel and the spot/area to be cleaned.
After applying cleaner, allow spot to soak and soften.
Using a straight (backward and forward) motion, lightly wipe the area. Avoid using a circular motion as it may leave swirl marks in the paint finish.
Rinse with plenty of water, making sure to remove all the cleaning product.
Repeat above steps if required.  

Removing Tough Road Grime and Stains:
Zirconite Glass CleanerSpray the area with water to remove any loose grime.
Spray the area with alcohol-based window cleaner (like Zirconite Glasss Cleaner) or a solution of 50% alcohol and 50% deionized water and allow to soak. For tar or tree sap, dampen with tar remover and allow to soak.
Apply cleaner to a clean, damp microfibre cloth.
Wipe the finish lightly to remove the grime using a backward and forward motion (avoid using a circular motion).
Once the grime is removed, wash area with pH neutral shampoo, using a damp microfibre cloth. Rinse well with water.
Dry with clean damp microfibre soft cloth.

Washing your vehicle

Concept auto ShampooConcept Auto Shampoo (a concentrated product) is an ideal for this purpose as it can be used by hand or machine. The Trade formula, rapidly lifts away dirt and road film leaving a bright streak free and sparklingly clear finish.

Watch the video on the difference between shampoos – click these blue words.

Pressure washing/cleaning

Using a pressure washer (with pressure not exceeding 1200 psi) is the best way to remove heavy soiling and grime before washing.

Lightly rinse heavy dirt off the vehicle with water from top to bottom. Use low pressure and spray more than 3 feet away from the vehicle.

Spray shampoo onto the vehicle using either the detergent tank in your pressure washer or a foam cannon.

Spray shampoo in the wheel wells and under the vehicle if desired.

If using a foam cannon, let the shampoo foam sit on the car for at least a minute before rinsing. Avoid allowing the shampoo to dry, as this could leave a residue on the car.

Thoroughly rinse the vehicle from top to bottom, keeping the pressure washer hose more than 1 foot from the surface of the car.

The car will need to be more thoroughly rinsed than when hand-washing, as shampoo reaches more cracks and crevices when using a pressure washer.

Hand washing/cleaning

Hand washing provides the best results and gives you an opportunity to closely examine all areas of your vehicle.

Place your vehicle in a cool, shaded area. Avoid direct sunlight. Follow the steps below.

Pre-Wash Check List:

Before soaping up the car, prepare your equipment and supplies.

pH neutral car wash shampoo.

Soft car wash mitt, wash pad/microfibre sponge.

Two buckets with grit guard grids at the bottom

Hose and sprayer with shut-off nozzle.

Alcohol-based window cleaner (not vinegar – or ammonia based) or mixture of 50% alcohol and 50% deionized water.

If needed, tar remover or mild solvent.

Microfibre soft cloth suitable for matte or low-gloss finishes.

Chamois or microfibre towel for drying.


If you intend to wash your wheels, do this before you wash the vehicle.
Use products specifically intended for alloy wheels, such as Zirconite Wheel Cleaner.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Do not use the same wash mitt or microfibre sponge used to wash the matte finish paint.
Although safe on plastic and tyres avoid getting any Zirconite Wheel Cleaner on the matte finish (either paint or a wrap). If this happens, wash and rinse thoroughly immediately.


Keep the hose handy for frequent rinsing throughout the wash.

Pre-rinse the vehicle with a hose or pressure washer to cool the vehicle surface and to remove large debris that can scratch the finish.

Prepare one bucket with pH neutral Concept Auto Shampoo.

Fill the second bucket with clean water. This is to be used for rinsing the mitt/microfibre sponge throughout the wash. Always rinse and keep the mitt /microfibre sponge clean before placing it into the wash solution.

Soak the wash mitt/wash pad/microfibre sponge in the wash solution and wash the vehicle lightly. Work in small sections starting at the top. Work your way to the bottom.

Wash a section and then completely rinse before proceeding to another section.

Continue washing each section and repeat the rinse, wash and rinse steps until the car is clean.

Keep the clean sections wet as you finish the next section. This thoroughly rinses the shampoo residue and helps prevent water spots from forming.


Ideally, use a clean damp chamois, sponge cloth, or microfibre towel before the surface air dries. If it begins to air dry, dampen the areas that you are not drying.

Squeegees/water blades are NOT recommended for matte/or low-gloss finishes.


Surf-ACE Spray ShieldIf you wish to detail your matte finish/wrap you should use a product like Surf-ACE Spray Shield. A unique spray, which is an easy-buff coating for fast protection of all solid surfaces: paintwork, plastics, laminate and glass. Spray Shield removes showroom fingerprinting effortlessly on all hard surfaces. Surf-ACE Spray Shield does not alter the sheen of the item being coated: Wet look coatings are sealed and remain at 100% gloss. Dead-matte lacquers stay matte. Watch the video by clicking on these blue words.