Water on car

Even if you clean your car often as a part of your car’s general maintenance, watermarks or rain spots can stay on even if you use car shampoo on a daily basis. These pesky spots consist of mineral content from the water after it evaporates, and can be a bit of a challenge to remove. 

Rain Spots Car

To understand how to remove it, we must first understand how it accumulates in the first place. There are three types of water spots that can occur. 

Hard water 

Usually tap water is not as pure as you may think and contains a lot of minerals that can harden if they sit on your vehicle’s paint for a long time. It forms a chalky substance that is moderately hard to remove. 

Bonded mineral 

These types are caused by water droplets with high mineral content. The most common cause of this watermark is acid rain with high sulfuric or nitric acid content. They’re often more cumbersome to remove as compared to hard watermarks. 


When the water dries quickly and is heated up under the sun, you will encounter etching. This is a more invasive watermark where the mineral elements in the water eat into your car’s clear coat and are the most difficult to remove out of all the watermarks. 

Watermark prevention

The best cure is prevention, in other words, proper car care and proper washing is key to leaving your car – literally – spotless. The key to this is drying your car properly, and making sure that you get all the water off your vehicle. The next precaution is to keep your car away from hard water or tap water sources. It also helps to keep your car indoors whenever you’re not using it and to make sure that your car’s as dry as can be after driving it in the rain. 

Polishing hood car

Some professional detailers and car washes offer watermark removal services, though if you want to go about it on your own, here are a few steps that you can take. 

  1. Wet the affected area 
  2. Use car shampoo to loosen any surface contaminants 
  3. Mix a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar to distilled water 
  4. Apply the vinegar solution to the affected area gently using a sponge for about 1-2 minutes 
  5. Rinse the affected area and then thoroughly towel dry 

Either that or you can buy some ready-made solution in the automotive section of your local hardware store. Just make sure to follow the instructions, and err on the side of caution by slowly applying the solution. 

If the solution didn’t work, it could be that your car’s paint is etched, and you need professional help to fix it. Bring your car to a local detailer to get the etched spots removed so you don’t cause irreversible damage to your car’s paint or glass. 

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