How To Remove Water Spots From Your Car For Less than $10

It never seems to fail: your freshly detailed car gets wet in the rain and suddenly you can see every drop that sprayed on it, glaring at you as though it was a crime scene. There's nothing more frustrating than seeing the seeming scuffs of rain or snow on your car. Thankfully there's a couple of ways to get rid of those unseemly weather spots marring your pristine paint job. We'll discuss those two options in this conversation on how to remove water spots from car.


Before we get into how to get rid of those pesky stains, we should explore water spots a little bit in their own right. What are water spots and where do they come from? Isn't there only water in water? Why is the rain water leaving behind these spots?

Well, believe it or not, there are other things in water besides hydrogen and oxygen, especially when we're talking about rain, sleet, and snow. Every drop of rain contains various minerals and salts, especially in places that get snow and ice, because cities use salt on the roads to help make the frozen stuff melt. When the water strikes a surface (in this instance, the body of your vehicle), the impurities inside of that drop of water gets sprayed everywhere, and when the water evaporates, the residue is left behind, making your shiny car look lacklustre. Thankfully, there are various options to get rid of such water spots.

The first option involves mixing two dangerous chemicals together, namely hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid, along with water, and spraying it on your car with a spray bottle. This option is available for your use at home but requires that you use safety equipment (gloves, respirators, eye protection, etc.), which can get expensive when you consider everything that you need in order to use these chemicals safely. Hydrochloric acid is highly corrosive and can irreparably damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines. Hydrofluoric acid is also corrosive and can severely burn eyes, skin, and the respiratory tract, if inhaled; it is also highly damaging to bone, and can cause irreversible damage to bone with chronic exposure.

Don't worry though. We won't be getting much more into that option. I don't know about you, but I don't like the idea of using that sort of stuff around myself or my home. Which brings us to the other option, which is far safer.

In stark contrast to the hydrochloric/hydrofluoric acid wash, this other option is all-natural and involves a wonder-ingredient you probably already have around the house. It doesn't require any special equipment in order to use safely or effectively, and it won't break the bank when you're buying it. It is completely safe to use around your children and pets, and is so completely harmless that you can actually drink it, that is if you wanted to. You may have even already used it today.

What is this wonder product, you ask? What could possibly be as effective as those corrosive acids and yet still accomplish the same tasks? Why, it's plain old VINEGAR. Before we tell you the process, we'll go into detail as to what to gather before you begin.

What You Will Need


White vinegar is most highly recommended because it won't leave behind any residue, the way other vinegars can. Any vinegar will work, of course, and I actually prefer using apple cider vinegar. This is a personal preference, as I like the smell of it better. I would not recommend wine vinegars, as they can leave behind stickiness, and that just brings a whole new slew of problems to contend with.

Car wax

There are plenty of brands out there and plenty to choose from. Presumably, you have your own favorite. I like Turtle Wax, as much for the name and the cuteness of the mascot as anything else. Whichever one you decide to use is fine - this is entirely a personal choice.

Towels (Clean rags, or shammy)

It might be getting dirty in a second, but you're better off starting with something clean to wipe down with. You might consider getting a bag of rags - it's basically fabric trimmings and are great for one-time use. You can find them at hardware stores, or online. Shammys are also great, especially when wetting the car, because of the sheer volume of water that they can hold and release. Not essential, but a nice option, regardless.


Your favorite brand of liquid soap will work here, whether that's handsoap, bodywash, or one designed with cars specifically in mind. The latter might be the best, but they can get really pricey. If you're being thrifty, even a bar of soap will do in a pinch. A good option is dish soap, as such soaps have stain-blocking ingredients that may help prevent future spots, but it will strip the wax off, so you'll have to reapply after using dish soap.


Plain old H2O. Nothing fancy needed here. Some people like to use distilled water, since it doesn't have any minerals in it, but that option is entirely up to you. I haven't noticed much of a difference with distilled water, as the acidity of the vinegar is enough to cut through the alkalinity of any mineral deposits in the water you're using.


Average, everyday bucket. You probably have one laying around, somewhere. You want one big enough that you won't have to keep filling it again and again as you're washing and re-washing the car. A hose is also handy, if you have one available, especially for the rinsing portion of this tutorial.

In the next section we'll divulge the details of how to remove water spots from car.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Prep Your Car

The first step requires we get rid of the stains currently on the car. We start to accomplish this by getting the car wet with a mixture of water and your vinegar. Mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, and distribute the liquid over the car's exterior with a rag. You don't need to get your car sopping wet here - just wet enough for what happens next.

Step 2: Soap Your Car

The next step gets the car cleaned. Add soap to your vehicle's wet exterior by pouring some on a rag and getting the car all foamy and lathered. Start at the top part of the car and work your way down. This way when the soap runs, it will cover more of the car. This method has also always saved my back a little wear and tear by keeping me upright as much as possible.

Step 3: Rinse Your Car

Let gravity be your friend again here and start at the top and work your way to the wheels. This way, using your hose or clean rags, the water will run off and make your job a little easier, and we could all use things being a little bit easier in our lives. This step should clear all the spots away from your car's body.

Step 4: Wax Your Car

This step is the most time-consuming of the ones listed here, of course, but if you really want the paint job to sing, this step is absolutely critical. Nothing shines like the lustre of a freshly waxed car, nothing turns heads like the gleaming body of a clean car. You can accomplish this impressive look by using car polisher and car wax and applying it to the body of your car, carefully following the instructions, to distribute the wax evenly. If you notice any blemishes in the application you can buff them out with a rag, or a buffer wheel, if you have one available.

In Conclusion

If this method doesn't remove water spots from your car, consider discussing the problem with an auto body specialist. The problem may be more serious than just some water marks, if this vinegar solution isn't the solution to the spots you see on your car. Vinegar is a versatile substance that can be used on your car, in your kitchen, or in your bathroom to clean in a safe and natural way.

Did you enjoy reading this tutorial? I hope you did, at least half as much fun as I had writing it. It was important to me to write this helpful how-to to share this information because some people don't realize that they can get rid of water spots on their cars on their own, without paying an arm and a leg or potentially exposing themselves to harmful chemicals and acids. Now you know how to handle the residue left behind by rain next time you see it on your car! Let me know in the comments what you think about this article, and don't forget to share it with your friends if you liked it.

About the Author Vince Martin

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