Water Spots on Car After Washing: How to Get Rid of Them?

spots on car after washing

Getting water spots on car after washing can be a frustrating situation that would require more effort in cleaning. In order to avoid having to deal with them again, it’d be good to know the main causes.

The most common cause is the mineral deposits in hard water. Water spots appear also due to improper car washing practices like washing under the sun’s heat, not wiping with the right cloth, not thoroughly rinsing the soap, etc.

What Are Water Spots?


If you notice unsightly white spots on car after washing it, then you should act quickly to clean them off, as these are water spots that can harm your paintwork.

Below are the main reason for this problem:

1. Hard water


One of the usual causes of water stains on car is washing car with hard water. If you have hard water, you’d surely end up with some water spots, usually colored white.

These white dots on car are the mineral deposits left over when the water on the car’s surface has dried. These minerals can be corrosive to the paintwork. Eventually, they will etch the clear coat, making little craters. And when more hard water reaches the craters, the etching worsens.

Even using good car washing techniques can’t spare your car from spot-causing mineral deposits. If you have hard water, you’d still get water spots unless you use some of the solutions for hard water, which will be discussed in the latter part of this article.

2. Car washing under the direct heat of the sun


The sun’s heat can be your foe, especially when you’re trying to wash a black car without water spots. It’d quickly evaporate the water, and the contaminants, minerals, or car soap or shampoo would be left on the car’s surface, causing water spots.

3. Not thoroughly and quickly drying the car


Failing to thoroughly and quickly dry your car after car washing causes water spots on its surface, especially if your water supply is hard water.

4. Car soap or shampoo residue


Some car soap or shampoo residue on car after washing may be left behind if you don’t rinse thoroughly. They would also result in water spots once they dried.

5. Not using the proper cloth for wiping


If you wipe your car with the wrong cloth, such as a cotton cloth, some contaminants may not be picked up and your car may not be properly cleaned. And the leftover contaminants would result in water spots.

6. Lack of protection on the car exterior


If a car is not protected with protective coatings on a car, such as wax or sealant, or if they have worn off, or especially when they have not been applied, the car exterior would be vulnerable to stains. And that includes the residue from hard water and cleaning products, which result in water spots.

How to Get Rid of Water Spots on Cars?

DIY solutions

1. Vinegar Method


  1. To get water spots off car with vinegar, combine equal parts of white vinegar and distilled water to make the cleaning agent.
  2. Using a sponge or microfiber towel, apply the vinegar solution to the affected areas. Leave it on the affected areas for one to two minutes to break down the spots.
  3. Gently wipe the water spots off the surface using microfiber cloth.

2. Clay Bar Method

Use this method if water spots on car won’t come off with the vinegar method.


  1. Spray some clay lubricant over the affected areas.
  2. Gently glide the clay over the water spots.
  3. Repeat as necessary.

3. Paint Cleaner/Polish Method


If the two previous methods did not work, the water spots have already etched the car’s finish. So you will have to remove not just the water spots but also the etched parts using a paint cleaner/polish.

  1. Using a foam pad, apply the paint cleaner/polish on the affected areas.
  2. With firm pressure, rub the product onto the water spots in a circular motion until they disappear.

Professional solutions


If you tried all three aforementioned methods but water spots remain, then you have severe clear coat damage that has already gotten on car paint level. At this point, you can no longer solve it by cleaning. You’d have to bring it to a professional to have your paintwork retouched.

Tips for Preventing Spots on Car


When washing

  • Use Filtered Water

If you have hard water, it’d be advisable to use filtered water to prevent water spots on car.

You can use a couple of gallons of distilled water for the final rinsing or by having a water filtration system in your house to soften hard water to wash car, such as a deionizing water filtration system or reverse osmosis system.

But it’d be best to only use the water filtration system for the final rinsing to not wear out the filter quickly.

  • Avoid the Direct Heat of the Sun

It is best to do your car washing away from the sun’s heat, such as in your garage or any other shaded area to keep water spots off car.

This will prevent the water and soap from evaporating and leaving spots during car washing and before you can dry the car. But if there is no shaded area available for car washing, you may schedule your car wash when it’s not too hot, such as early morning or evening.

  • Use Proper Car Washing Products

It’d also help to use a car wash soap or shampoo specifically formulated for car washing instead of some typical household alternative item such as dishwashing soap or hair shampoo.

A car wash soap or shampoo that’s of high quality and a neutral ph level will not leave spots.

After washing

  • Thoroughly Dry Your Car Immediately Using the Proper Drying Tools

Always remember to dry your car immediately to stop water spots from forming on its exterior. It’s also important to do it thoroughly, ensuring every area, nook, and cranny of the car is dried. And use the proper drying tools to do the job effectively.

The best cloth would be a microfiber towel because it’s a highly absorbent towel that’s gentle enough not to scratch a car’s exterior.

However, if you don’t do it quickly, you may still end up with water spots, and not all nooks and crannies can be reached by a microfiber towel.

 So to make the drying process quicker and to ensure that the hard-to-reach areas get dried, you may also use a car dyer or leaf blower before manual drying.

  • Coat Your Car With a Protective Coating

A good preventive measure to avoid water spots on your paintwork is to coat it with wax, sealant, or ceramic coating.

Coating the paintwork with any of these products will protect it from water spots because of the hydrophobic properties allowing it to repel water.

On car windows, you can apply a glass water repellent to keep them from getting water spots.

Best Products to Prevent Spots


Apart from using the proper techniques in car washing to prevent water spots, using the best products would help achieve the best results, which are listed below:

  • Purified water
  • Ph-neutral car wash soap or shampoo
  • Microfiber towel
  • Car dryer or leaf blower
  • Wax, sealant, or ceramic coating
  • Glass water repellent

How Long Does It Take for Water Spots to Damage a Car’s Paint?


The time it takes for water spots to cause damage or etching on the paintwork isn’t definite.

It can be as quick as a couple of hours or take days. Two main factors can affect how long they can damage car paint, which are explained below:

  • Level of Impurities

Generally, these are impurities in the water, such as minerals, pollution, and chemicals. But in winter, road salt used for melting ice that mixes with the snow would be an additional problem. If the level of impurities is high, then etching on the paintwork would be quicker.

  • Sun

When the water spots on a car are exposed to the sun for too long, they would get baked on the paintwork. Especially if they’re on a dark-colored car and left on the surface on a scorching day, then the paintwork can be etched within a few hours or a day.


Being aware of what’s happening to your car’s condition, like why there are water spots on car after washing would help you take good care of your car and avoid damage.

Remember that they’re caused by minerals, chemicals, and other impurities that can be corrosive. So make sure to use the proper car washing techniques and the best products to prevent water spots.

5/5 - (2 votes)



"As the content writer of Charmcitycirculator, I intend to bring just the best purchase options and straightforward answers to your problems. Other than what we put up on our website, we hope to hear more from you. "

– Bruce Sonnier