How to Prevent Water Spots on Car: 8 Easy Methods

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how to prevent water spots on car

Need to know how to prevent water spots on car? Here are 8 methods to keep your car spot free and glossy:

  1. Wash your car in the shade
  2. Wash and rinse with a spotless water system: water deionizer
  3. Wash with pH-neutral car shampoo
  4. Do not allow your vehicle to air dry
  5. Use drying aid or quick detail spray
  6. Use an air blow dryer
  7. Apply a paint protection coating
  8. Park in a garage away from sprinklers & rain

8 Ways to Prevent Water Spots from Forming on Your Car

1. Wash Your Car in the Shade

The principle at play here is to avoid water drying on your car’s paint. Direct sunlight causes water to evaporate quickly. It also raises the temperature of the paint surface, which aids in evaporation.

Washing your vehicle in the shade, preferably in the morning or evening while temperatures are cooler is ideal.

Cool air temperatures, and a cool paint surface will give you plenty of time to wash and rinse your car without having to worry about water spots forming before you can dry it properly.

2. Wash & Rinse with a Spotless Water System: Water Deionizer

Hard water spots are formed when water, containing minerals, evaporates on your paint surface. Once the water is gone, all that is left are the minerals. These minerals are what we see on the surface of your paint that we call water spots.

A spotless water system removes the minerals from the water, leaving only pure H2O. With no minerals left in the water, when the water evaporates, no water spots are left.

The safest and most common type of spotless water system in the car detailing industry is a water deionizer. Water deionizers use a process called ion exchange. When water is forced through the system the mineral particles attach to resin beads with the corresponding electrical charges. Mineral-free water is what is left.

Using soft water to wash your car is not a good idea. Soft water systems add minerals to the water. Ideally, removing all of the minerals from the water is best.

3. Wash with a pH-Neutral Car Shampoo

The pH of a substance refers to its level of acid or alkaline. pH neutral means that it is neither acidic or alkaline. Instead it’s right in between, or neutral.

Cash wash soaps and shampoos that are pH-neutral will not strip away the hydrophobic layer of wax on your paint surface. A hydrophobic paint surface is less prone to water spots, since the water easily beads up and slides off.

Some pH-neutral car shampoo manufacturers claim that you can wash your car in direct sunlight with no water spots. Although it will help reduce water spots, it’s always best to not allow non-deionized water to air dry on your vehicle under any circumstances.

4. Do Not Allow Your Vehicle to Air Dry

As you may have picked up by now, water spots are created when hard water is allowed to evaporate on the surface of your car’s paint. The water evaporates, and the minerals that were in the water remain on you vehicle in the form of a water spot.

One of the most effective ways to prevent water spots is to not allow water to air dry, or evaporate on your car.

As you are washing, keep an eye on the panels of your car. If you see that a panel is beginning to dry out, hit it with some water. Keeping the panels wet until you’re ready to dry them is a good way to prevent water spots.

It’s unreasonable to avoid water from ever drying on your vehicle (rain, snow etc), but do your best.

5. Use Drying Aid or Quick Detail Spray

Drying aid spray and quick detail spray help eliminate water spots from forming during the drying process.

These products often contain waxes and other chemicals that create an ultra-slick and glossy surface.

They also provide additional moisture and lubrication to the surface to help prevent scratching and swirling, as well as water spots.

Spray drying aid or quick detail spray to a clean wet surface, then dry.

6. Use an Air Blow Dryer

We’ve all washed and dried our car, just to have water run down from door handles, side mirrors etc. To avoid this, use a blow dryer to force the water out of the grill, door jams, side mirrors, crevices etc.

Some choose to dry the entire vehicle with a blow dryer to avoid the chance of scratches that inevitably come when rubbing anything on your paint.

It’s good to follow with a microfiber drying towel to buff as you go.

7. Apply a Paint Protection Coating

Paint protection coatings apply some level of hydrophobic property to your paint. The way a paint protection coating can help prevent water spots is by making the water bead up and shed off.

These are the most popular paint protection coatings:

  • Ceramic coating
  • Graphene coating
  • Paint sealant
  • Carnauba car wax

Paint protection coatings will not completely prevent water spots, but they will help. These coatings, combined with the other tips found here, will make it easier to keep the the water spots off of your car.

8. Park in a Garage Away from Sprinklers & Rain

Maybe one of the most obvious tips, but also the most effective, is to keep your vehicle stored in a garage and away from the sprinklers and rain.

When away from home, be careful when you park to avoid stalls that border flower beds or grass. You never know when the sprinklers will come on and coat your vehicle with hard water.

Many sprinkler systems use secondary water. Secondary water is not clean enough to drink and is used for agricultural purposes. This water is full of dirt and minerals that cause even more water spots that normal tap water. Avoid overspray from sprinkling systems at all costs.

Rain can also cause water spots. As rain falls it can pick up dust particles in the air and deposit them on your car. It’s not always possible, but if you can avoid your vehicle being rained on, it will help prevent water spots.

What are Water Spots and What Causes Them?

Water spots are left over mineral deposits after water has evaporated. Unless filtered, distilled, or deionized, water will have minerals in it.

Water can have varying levels or amounts of dissolved minerals in it. This is measured using the metric TDS, or total dissolved solids. TDS measures the amount of particles in it that are not H2O.

The higher the TDS, the more prone to water spots it will be. If you really want to geek out on this, you can purchase a TDS meter to measure the water at your house.

How to Remove Water Spots from Your Car

Sometimes water spots are inevitable. In that case, here are the most effective ways for removing water spots in order of least to most aggressive:

  • Vinegar Bath: To make a vinegar bath that is safe to use on your car’s paint, combine 1 part white distilled vinegar to 1 part distilled water. Vinegar is acidic and will breakdown and dissolve the mineral deposits on your paint. Put the vinegar solution in a spray bottle. Spray the water spots and wipe away with a microfiber towel. This is a very effective method for new or light water spots.
  • Water Spot Remover: Proper water spot removers are formulated to dissolve the mineral deposits in water spots, and are usually stronger than a homemade vinegar bath. Some water spot removers contain substances that add gloss, shine, and protection. These are not long lasting, but can be a nice temporary benefit. Be sure the water spot remover is safe for car paint before using it. It’s always good to test it on a small area to make sure you like the results before covering your entire vehicle.
  • Clay Bar: If chemical water spot removal is not enough, a mild or fine clay bar can be very effective in removing stubborn, stuck-on water spots. Clay bars are made to pull contaminants from your clear coat. Some water spots will etch the clear coat. Clay bars will pull the mineral deposits from the clear coat leaving a smooth finish. Clay bars are abrasive, so be careful to not rub too hard for too long, as you can damage the finish.
  • Paint Correction: The final and most aggressive method for removing water spots is paint correction. Paint correction is a process of removing a tiny later of clear coat using compounds, polishes, and a motorized polisher. Try a 1 stage polish first. If that is ineffective, use a compound, then polish. The water spots are sure to come off with this method.

All of these water spot removal methods will strip wax or any last-stage paint protection away. After water spot removal treatment, reapply paint protection to keep your paint looking great for a long time.


There are many things you can and should do to prevent water spots from forming on your car. These include:

  1. Wash your car in the shade
  2. Wash and rinse with a spotless water system: water deionizer
  3. Wash with pH-neutral car shampoo
  4. Do not allow your vehicle to air dry
  5. Use drying aid or quick detail spray
  6. Use an air blow dryer
  7. Apply a paint protection coating
  8. Park in a garage away from sprinklers & rain

If these sound like a lot of work, you might consider buying a lighter colored car. Cars with lighter colors, like white or gray, don’t show water spots as easily as a black or dark colored one.

What Next?

Now that your car is water-spot free, improve another part of your vehicle. Explore our other exterior detailing guides.

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Tyler Dixon is the founder of, and enjoys all things automotive-detailing. He has had a passion for all things automotive since childhood, and could often be found detailing his parents vehicles at a young age. He enjoys sharing his passion and skills for detailing with others, and is always looking for the next vehicle to transform.

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