How To Prevent Water Spots When Washing Your Car

Sunday morning. There’s the hum of a kitchen making toast, the scent of coffee in the mug. The clothes washing machine is rattling away and the sky is blue. Time to wash the car.

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Sunday morning. There’s the hum of a kitchen making toast, the scent of coffee in the mug. The clothes washing machine is rattling away and the sky is blue. Time to wash the car.

It’s not hot outside so it’s an ideal situation for washing. The bucket is dragged out and rinsed, a couple of caps full of wash are poured in, and the bucket is topped up.

The car is driven onto the grass and a water efficient wand is used to wet the car down, roof first. A clean micro-fibre cloth is dipped into the bucket and the process begins.

Rinse time and the water is hitting the grass, so it’s time to dry. The chamois is given a cursory squeeze and pulled and dragged across the sheetmetal.

As it’s a coolish morning there’s no need to worry about the water spots.

Or is there?

Science tells us there are three kinds of water spots and all three have the potential to cause or exacerbate paint damage.

If the water spot has a whitish look to it, it’s likely to be calcium enriched, and may even have magnesium in it. This is known as hard water, and if left to sit on a car’s painted surface, can bond itself to the clear or paint, and when dry can be very difficult to remove, even with dedicated compounds made for just such.

Rain water, surprisingly, can also kickstart a chemical reaction. As much as we think rain water is pure H20, it brings down atmospheric contaminants such as ash, dust, jet fuel waste, and factory made smoke.

As this dries it can spread in area on the paint, and when fully dried is visible as a kind of stain. This also bonds into the clear or paint surface and also requires a special polishing compound to remove.

Etched water spots generally occur when a car has been left in a sunny area and washed at the wrong time. The temperature affects the composition even more, which is why all car washes are recommended to be done in cool temperatures and where possible, in shade.

To alleviate the possibilities of water spots forming, one step is to use two chamois. One for the removal of the bulk of the water, the second to sop up the remaining drops. A chamois will always retain fluid during use, no matter how hard it's wrung out. Absorb as much as it can, wring, then reapply. Once the car looks dry, go over it with the second, and pay attention to areas such as the roof’s drainage channels and window trims.

One quick, if possibly slightly cumbersome and costly way, is to use deionised water, or softening agents. Either will have an effect of minimising calcium deposits and resulting in a lesser chance of calcium water spots being formed.

If the car’s paint is such that the clear coat has started to lose effectiveness, one recommended method to remove water pots is to use a small bucket, a clean micro-fibre cloth, and vinegar. Vinegar is low pH and counterbalances the possible high pH in hard water water spots.

Which method have you tried and found to be effective? Let us know via our comments section  or on our social media pages.