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Does Rain Ruin A Car Wash? – best kept secret

So frustrating!! Why does it always rain when I get the car washed? Not to worry, my father taught me these tips, and I’m about to share them with you. 

Rain will ruin a car wash. However, most good commercial car washes apply a final liquid wax coating. The wax repels rain and road grime, offers a high shine and UV protection, and helps your vehicle stay cleaner for longer.

In this post, you’ll learn a few tips about post-car wash care to help keep your vehicle looking cleaner for longer, no matter the rain.


How to Protect Your Car From Water Spots

White marks on the paintwork are a cause for concern. Water spots are caused when standing rainwater or car wash water beads dry out. The crusty white remnant is a salt-calcium mix that can damage the paintwork. There’s no need to suffer from water spots; they can be eliminated.

To protect your vehicle from water spots, use a chamois or microfiber towel to dry the vehicle thoroughly after a car wash. Allowing the vehicle to air dry or dry in the sunshine will cause water spots.

My father introduced me to a chamois when I was a kid; it was our Sunday chore. Wash and dry the two-tone cream over brown Audi, mmm cream, and brown Nice! Of course, running a chamois over your vehicle is a little work, the time you may not have.

Some other options for keeping those white spots away include having your vehicle waxed at the car wash.

Most good car washes will coat the car in a liquid wax as part of the standard wash; other washes may charge extra; you’ll need to ask.

Some high-end washes also offer the additional service of blow-drying the car; this removes most of the water. But if you’re very fussy, spending five minutes with a chamois or microfiber towel will leave it perfect.

But what about rainwater? The wax coating applied at the car wash will help repel rain. No beading means no water spots.

What about road grime? The wax helps repel road spray from other vehicles; sure, you’ll see the dirt on the vehicle, but the layer of wax prevents the grit from really sticking to the bodywork.

A quick rinse from a garden hose and a chamois is all it needs to look new again.

You’ll find a ton of pro cleaning products on the Car cleaning tools page.

Hand Washing Your Own Car

If you are hand washing your vehicle, it’s important to have all the correct tools. A bucket and sponge can do a ton of damage; hard to believe, I know.

Grit from your vehicle gathers in the bottom of the wash bucket, and the sponge collects the grit. The action of washing your paintwork causes the sponge grit to scratch the paintwork.

The correct way to go about hand washing is to first use a power washer to remove the heavy grit before using a sponge and bucket with a tray at the bottom to prevent sponge contamination.

Using a good quality auto detergent is important too. Auto detergent is different. It’s got a lubricant to help the sponge glide across the paintwork. Never use household detergent, it’s too harsh for auto paintwork and it strips away wax coatings.

Using distilled water to wash your vehicle will prevent water spots. Chamois the body, paintwork, glass, plastic, chrome, wheels, and glass to remove water; no water means no water staining or spotting.

How To Remove Water Spot Damage?

Landrover window

Water spot damage is caused by salts in water beads drying out on the surface of your paintwork. The salts etch the paintwork if left untreated. 

To remove water spot damage to paintwork, use an orbital buffer and a fine abrasive polishing paste. The buffer and paste will remove a fine layer of the damaged surface coating. Apply a fresh coat of premium car wax to seal the surface. 

It is possible to remove water spot damage without an orbital buffer, but the buffer helps protect the paintwork from excessive hand rubbing in one spot. It’s easy to damage the paintwork with finger marks.

An orbital buffer head helps prevent paint burning. I wrote a whole post about using a buffer and paste; check it out here “Difference between DA and Orbital sander.”

How To Stop Dirt Sticking To Car

My father loves cars, he’s a collector and keeps a few old Mercedes and Jaguars. People love old cars, and they never fail to capture people’s attention. Very quickly, the conversation turns to how do you keep them so clean?

To prevent dirt sticking to a car, follow these top five tips

  1. Wash and chamois regularly
  2. Top up the wax monthly with a premium car wax
  3. Use a rain repellent product on the glass
  4. Garage the car when not in use
  5. Don’t park under trees

My father showed me how to use a Chamois from an early age. The Chamois is a leather cloth that’s great at absorbing moisture, and it’s super soft, so it won’t damage the paintwork.

You’ll find a link to genuine leather chamois and other pro cleaning products on the Car cleaning tools page.

A good quality chamois will last years. I clean mine in a little detergent and some warm water and allow it to dry out naturally. It’s great to keep in the trunk of the car.

Washing a car regularly and using a chamois to remove standing water will help prevent the natural salts found in water from breaking down the wax layer.

My father wax’s his cars monthly; I’ll confess I don’t; I wax my cars about every two to three months. But even every two to three months makes a big difference.

The wax builds up on the paintwork, and the polymers prevent the grit from grabbing hold of the bodywork. You’ll still need to wash the car but you’ll notice how easy the crap just walks off the body.

There’s a ton of top-quality wax on the market; the better ones will have a blend of Carnauba wax. The P21S is one of the very best, but it is expensive; you can check it out here on Amazon.

How To Stop Dirt Sticking To Car Windows

Water-stained windows drive me crazy, or wipers dragging across the windshield, Nooo I can’t take it.

Using a rain-repellent product on the glass will help prevent water and dirt from sticking. Rain repellent products reduce wiper blade friction, allowing blades to glide across the windshield with greater efficiency and reduced noise.

I use a product called Rain-x, it’s about the best in the business. Applying is easy but the windshield will need to be super clean first. Rain-x does work great and is excellent for wet night driving. However, it doesn’t last forever; you must reapply to coat monthly.

Check out Rain-X and a ton of other great insider cleaning products on the Car cleaning tools page.

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About the Author

John Cunningham is a Red Seal Qualified automotive technician with over twenty-five years of experience in the field. When he’s not writing about car repair, you’ll find him in his happy place – restoring classic cars.