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If you have ever parked your car outside, then you have likely come out to it the next day and noticed a ton of whitish spots all over it. Those spots are from the hard-water residue from nearby sprinklers or even light rain. The worst part is that those little spots are tough to remove from your paint and they can be very damaging if left on these. Here is what you can do to remove them.

How to clean the water spots on your car

A man washing his car using the two-bucket method
A man washing his car using the two-bucket method. | Unsplash

Those pesky little water spots can be tough to remove, but it’s not impossible. According to Vehq, this first step in the removal process is to clean the car with a mild cleanser using the two-bucket washing method. After the car is clean, dry it using a microfiber drying towel. A thorough wash like this should clean up the most, if not all, of those water spots. If not, then you can try the following methods:

  • Use a detailing spray and microfiber cloth to remove the water spots
  • You can soak a sponge with distilled white vinegar and wipe the water spots with it. Let the vinegar stay on the water spots for a few minutes and then rinse it with water and dry the car with a microfiber towel.
  • After cleaning the car, you can use car polish on the areas that still have water spots
  • Use a fine-grade detailing clay bar on the areas with residual water spots

After washing and drying the car, you can apply a fresh coat of wax to the finish in order to protect the paint. The wax can prevent any future water-spot build-up as well.

How do water spots form on your car?

As you might have guessed, water spots are caused by water. Specifically, dried up water that has left behind minerals and contaminants that were once in it and cannot evaporate, hence the white spots.

Can water spots damage your car’s paint?

Whether or not water spots are damaging depends on what kind of contaminants the water on your car leaves behind. It also depends on how long the water spots are left on the car. Fortunately, if damage does occur, it’s typically on the car’s clear coat and not the deeper base coat.

The residual spots left behind could be due to the limescale, or calcium and magnesium, from hard water found in sprinklers. However, water spots can also be left behind from acid rain, which typically contains sulfuric and nitric acids. If either of these types of contaminants is left behind for too long, then damage to the paint can occur.

How to prevent water spots

Water spots on the hood of a BMW car
Water spots on the hood of a BMW car | Unsplash

If you want to prevent water spots from building up on your car, then it’s important to be aware of where you park it. If you have to park outside for a considerable amount of time, or overnight, then try not to park next to grassy areas as the sprinklers may activate and spray your car.

Also, if you live in an apartment complex where you have to park outside, then consider covering your car with a car cover. Also, if you notice that your car got wet from sprinklers or rain, try to dry the area as soon as possible to prevent spots from happening.


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