Car Detailing Articles > HOW TO GET RID OF WATER SPOTS

By Ryan Adams © 2017, All Rights Reserved

You've spent all afternoon washing and polishing your car, and it looks fantastic! That is, until your neighbor turns on his sprinklers and gets water spots all over it. To your neighbor it’s no big deal – after all, it’s just water – but those spots make your car look like it hasn't been washed in weeks. If you don’t take steps to get rid of them right away, and prevent them in the future, you might as well have spent the day antiquing with your girlfriend for all the good you did.

Water isn't Really the Problem

Water spots are a pain and they're ugly to boot. What causes them? City water supplies contain minerals and salts, and when that stuff dries on your car, you get water spots. Depending on where you live, they can be tough to get rid of. Pretty soon that mirror finish you worked so hard on is full of spots, and you're back to spending weekends with a buffing cloth instead of at the beach.

Even the morning dew can cause water spots. If your car sits out where dust particles and more can settle on the surface, then condensation collects on the hood and trunk, you’ll get water spots. Unless you're prepared to store your car in a clean room and admire it through the window, then water – and the spots it causes – can't be avoided. Good thing you've got a plan

Two Steps to Freedom from Water Spots

As much as you’d like to, you probably can’t run out and dry your car every time it gets a little wet. But you do need to get rid of those spots, and sooner is better than later. For most spots, distilled vinegar – not fancy salad-dressing vinegar – and water will do the trick. Just dampen a cotton or microfiber cloth with white vinegar and gently wipe away the spots. Rinse with distilled water, and you're all set. Of course, that's a pain to do every time your car gets wet. There's a better option.

To prevent water spots from forming in the first place, a high-quality carnauba wax is your best ally. After you’ve removed all the spots, apply a thin coat of liquid wax. Make sure it’s a cool day, and keep your car out of the sun while you’re waxing. Read the instructions and don't use too much. With better-quality liquid carnauba waxes, a little really does go a long way. Complete one section before moving on to the next. No need to let it dry first like with paste wax. Finish by buffing with a soft towel – terrycloth works best.

Just a word to the wise: Not all waxes are the same. When properly formulated, carnauba wax works great to help prevent new water spots from forming. By allowing water to “sheet” off the car instead of “beading up,” you’ll have fewer water spots to deal with in the future. Depending on the brand of carnauba wax you choose and the environmental conditions in your area, your wax job should last you two to three months. You will want to reapply it if you use the vinegar trick on any new spots. Or any time you need an excuse to get out of dinner with your in-laws.

Ryan Adams writes for, an online car detailing site that offers Carnu-B, a carnauba wax specially formulated to prevent water spots while leaving the car with a gorgeous high gloss shine. Check out the video demonstration at