Water spots can cause a whole host of problems for your car’s finish. As well as looking bad, they can actually damage the paintwork permanently. And the old saying is true, prevention is better than cure.
In this article, I’ll go through 9 different ways to prevent water spots from accumulating on your vehicle. So let’s get started.
The Quick Answer
You can prevent water spots forming on your car’s paint and glass using these 9 methods.
- Use low pressure when rinsing after washing.
- Dry the car using a damp microfiber towel.
- Use a quick detailer spray or drying aid when drying.
- Use pressurised air to remove water from inaccessible areas.
- Don’t wash your car in direct sunlight.
- Rinse the car with deionised water.
- Apply a hydrophobic wax, sealant or ceramic coating.
- Avoid parking near water sprinklers.
- Rinse the car with low pressure after it rains.
The best way to prevent water spots is to eliminate any water drying on the surface. So by preventing water accumulating in the first place and removing it as quickly as possible will help to avoid water spot formation and subsequent clear coat damage.
If water spots are left to dwell on the paint, then it can cause clear coat etching. So it’s important to take these preventative measures to preserve your car’s finish.
Now let’s go through each tip individually and I’ll explain exactly how you can use them to make your vehicle water spot resistant.
Use Low Pressure When Rinsing
Water spots often accumulate on the car during the rinsing process when you spray the vehicle down with a pressure washer, or hose, to remove any remaining car shampoo.
When water is sprayed at high pressure, it causes droplets (or beads) to form on the surface. Since these droplets are very small, they can dry really quickly causing water spots to form.
One of the best ways to prevent this from happening, is by using low-pressure to rinse the car down.
Water has “cohesive” properties. This means it has a tendency to stick to itself. Think about when you’re driving in the rain and you see the water roll down the windows and stick to other droplets taking them with it.
You can take advantage of these cohesive properties during the rinsing process to essentially “rinse the car dry” by using the water to collect these droplets so they roll off the car.
This only works when you’re using low pressure though. If you use high pressure, then droplets will form again.
So when you’ve finished rinsing off the car shampoo, take any attachments off your hose and use free flowing water to rinse your car. The more gentle and slow you are, the more water will be removed.
Drying Using a Microfiber Towel
After rinsing using this low pressure technique, the majority of the water will be removed from the paintwork. However, there will still be some droplets remaining.
The best way to remove water spots is by using a microfiber towel. Microfiber is very safe to use on the paintwork and won’t cause scratches.
You should never use a bath towel, squeegee or chamois to dry your car because they are too harsh and drag dust along the paint causing scratches and swirl marks.
Instead, use a clean, plush and fairly large microfiber towel. Follow these steps t effectively and safely remove any remaining water.
- Make the microfiber towel slightly damp. This helps to it collect the water more easily.
- Instead of wiping the paint, lightly press the microfiber onto the paint to allow it collect any remaining water.
- Dry the car from top to bottom for the best results.
It’s really important to keep the microfiber clean and care for it properly. If you use microfiber that’s in poor condition, then you are likely to cause scratches and swirl marks during the drying process.
Take a look at this article I’ve written on using microfiber to dry your car. It’ll take you through how to clean it and which types of towel are best.
Use a Drying Aid or Quick Detailer
Sometimes, if you’re not quick enough to dry the car, then you can get very superficial water spots forming on the paintwork. These are not always removed by using a microfiber towel on it’s own.
So one thing you can do to combat this problem is using a drying aid or quick detailer spray during the drying process to prevent water spots sticking to the paintwork.
This is a great way to reduce the risk of inflicting scratches during the drying process, and remove water from cars that haven’t been waxed or sealed and can’t be rinsed down as effectively using step 1.
Simply spray the quick detailer or drying aid spray onto the microfiber towel, and the panel and wipe gently. This will help prevent water spot formation and leave some protection and added gloss behind.
I personally use a quick detailer called Sonax Brilliant Shine Detailer to do this. It leaves a very hydrophobic coating behind to prevent water spot formation in the future and it’s pretty cheap too.
You can check out Sonax Brilliant Shine Detailer Spray on Amazon.
Use Pressurised Air for Tight Areas
There’s nothing more annoying than drips down the paint of a freshly washed and dried car after it’s been driven for the first time.
Water spots and stains often occur even when the vehicle has been dried properly using a microfiber towel because water can hide in difficult to reach areas.
Often, water collects in places like door jambs, fuel caps, window seals, grills and most commonly, wing mirrors.
So you’re lulled into a false security of thinking the car is completely dry when in fact, there are little pockets of water which are released when you drive the car.
The best way to combat this problem, is by using pressurised air to reach these areas. Since most of the common areas are impossible to reach using a microfiber towel, pressurised air can help push the water out, and then you can use your microfiber cloth to collect the droplets.
There are two pieces of equipment you can use for this purpose:
- A car dryer
- A leaf blower
Most car owners don’t have access to a specialised car dryer, but if you can afford to invest in one, then they’ll definitely make water spots a thing of the past.
However, plenty of people have leaf blowers. You can use your leaf blower to push water out of these inaccessible areas to prevent spots and stains after you’ve driven.
You do need to be a bit cautious when using a leaf blower to dry your car though. And keep in mind that not all leaf blowers are suitable (you’ll need one that has an air filter).
I’ve written an entire article on how to safely dry your car with a leaf blower, so check it out before trying this technique.
Don’t Wash Your Car in the Sun
Probably one of the most important tips for preventing water spot formation during the wash process, is to do it in the shade, or when it’s a bit cooler outside.
The sun is the enemy when washing your car. It causes car shampoo to dry more quickly, and also causes water spots to form very fast after you’ve rinsed the car.
It’s the most common issue when washing your car in a hot climate, so you need to take some precautions if you live in a hot area.
- Always wash and dry your car in the shade, never in direct sunlight.
- Try and wash your car either early in the morning or in the evening when the temperatures are usually a bit lower.
- Keep rinsing the car as you go to stop water from ever drying on the car before you are finished the wash process.
If you follow these steps, you should be able to prevent water spots from accumulating too quickly. The best thing to do is to keep the car wet at all times. Just periodically spray the car down again if you’re working in higher temperatures.
If after washing and rinsing, you notice that some water spots have already formed, then you can try rinsing the car again using high pressure to push the water spots off the paint, then use low pressure again as described in step 1.
If this doesn’t tackle the water spot, then you should wash the area again or remove it using a water remover spray or quick detailer. Never leave it on there or it can become much more permanent.
Rinse With Deionised Water
If you live in an area with hard water, then you can also consider using deionised water to do the final rinse.
I only really think this is necessary if you either live in a very hot climate, or if the water is particularly hard in your area.
It’s important to understand that it’s not actually the water that causes water spots, but it’s the impurities in it. Water from the tap often has minerals and impurities. When the water evaporates on your car, it leaves these behind, and that’s what a water spot or stain actually is.
So if the water you’re using is completely pure, then it won’t leave any water spots behind.
This is water water filter machines can really come in handy. They usually just clip onto your tap or hose and the water runs through it, is purified, and then the water that’s actually used on on your car will be contaminant free.
They are usually very simple and quick to setup, the only real drawback is the price. A decent water purifier will set you back around $100 or more.
But if you live in an area where water spots are a big issue, then it could be worth investing.
It’s also worth noting that these water purifiers should be used sparingly. Don’t use deionised water for the entire wash process because it’s simply not necessary and will wear out the filter.
If you want your water purifier to last for longer, then just use it for the final rinse and you’ll get the benefits without wearing out the filter.
Apply a Sealant or Coating
One of the best ways to prevent water spots bonding to the paintwork on your car is to use a good quality ceramic coating or sealant.
Ceramic coatings and sealants create a very hydrophobic layer on your car making it very water repellent. They tend to be more water-repellent than waxes.
This has several benefits with respect preventing water spots.
- The water sheets off the surface rather than sitting on it and drying to form water spots.
- Water forms beads rather than getting spread out over the surface when it rains. Beads take longer to dry so are less likely to form water spots.
- If any water spots form, they are more easily removed when the car has a coating on the surface.
- It makes the drying process faster.
So when you’re looking for a good paint protection product, look for the hydrophobic properties and durability, rather than claims about adding gloss and shine.
If you’re interested in the best waxes and sealants for preventing water spot formation, then check out my recommended paint protection products page for my recommendations.
Make sure you keep this protection topped up regularly to ensure your car’s paint isn’t susceptible to water stains. Take a look at this article I’ve written talking about a simple trick to tell when a car needs waxing or sealing to find out if you need to reapply.
You can also seal the glass to give it a hydrophobic coating. The best options are either a ceramic coating which will last upwards of a year, or a glass spray with water repellent properties.
I use a hydrophobic glass spray called Auto-Glanz Vision for this purpose, so water spots on the glass are never an issue on my car.
Stay Away From Sprinklers
You also need to be really conscious of where you park your car to stop it getting unnecessarily exposed to water when it isn’t being washed.
Usually the biggest culprit for this is the water sprinkler. If you have one on your lawn then you need to make sure your car is parked out of the splash zone.
Otherwise your car will always be prone to water spots and stains, even if you have a good sealant or ceramic coating on the surface.
Rinse After it Rains
Another really useful tip to prevent water spots forming between washes, is to rinse your car down after it rains.
Rain drops, if left to dry will always cause water spots. Of course, it’s not practical to wash your car every single time it rains. But one thing you can do is just hose it down.
This won’t entirely remove every single water spot, but it can help to reduce the amount of water stains that remain.
You’ll need to make sure you use low pressure though and free-flowing water as we talked about in step 1. Or you’ll end up causing even more water spots.
Don’t be tempted to dry your car using a microfiber towel after it rains, as this can cause scratches and swirl marks in the clear coat. After it rains, there will be dust and dirt on the surface. If you use a microfiber towel you will rub it into the paint and cause damage.
So just give the car a rinse with low pressure after it rains, and wait until you can wash it properly again to remove any remaining water spots.
Quick Note on Water Spot Removal
So I’ve already said that prevention is better than cure when it comes to water spots. If you use all 9 of these tips that we’ve spoken about in this article, then your car should be a water-spot free zone the majority of the time.
However, it’s not always possible to prevent water spots all the time. So there may be some instances where you need to use some removal techniques.
It’s absolutely critical that you don’t leave water spots to dwell on your car for any longer than they have to be. They can cause clear coat damage if left to linger because the impurities in the water can be corrosive to your car’s paint.
This is known as clear coat etching and can be very difficult to remove without the proper skills and tools.
I’ve written an article that takes you through 6 effective ways to remove stubborn water spots so check it out if you’re struggling to tackle them.
Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the website to learn more about making your car look its best.