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How to Take Off Water Spots on Your Car

car door with water on it

Difficult to remove once dry, water can leave unsightly spots on a vehicle's exterior. There are a couple of options to remove these spots, however, including using white vinegar or a hydrochloric/hydrofluoric acid mix after washing your vehicle. Regardless of the method you use, you can follow some basic steps to easily remove water spots and keep your vehicle's exterior water mark-free

  • Warning: Hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids are chemicals that can be dangerous if not handled properly.

Method 1 of 2: Using hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid

Materials Needed

hazard symbol

While dangerous if not handled properly, solutions containing a mixture of hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid (sometimes called muriatic acid) can easily remove water stains from your vehicle's exterior. By taking safety precautions and following some simple instructions, you can have your car's paint looking great in no time.

  • Warning: Hydrofluoric acid is dangerous if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Take extreme caution when using this chemical.

Step 1: Dress in protective gear. Wear appropriate safety gear, such as a respirator, safety goggles, and gloves.

You should also avoid contact with the skin by wearing a long-sleeve shirt and pants while using the substance.

Step 2: Spray the water spots. After donning the appropriate protective equipment, take the spray bottle containing the acidic mixture and spray it on the area containing the water spots.

Another option is to spray the mixture on the rag itself. In this way, you can avoid getting the chemicals on areas you don't want to be sprayed.

  • Warning: Take care not to get the acid solution on auto glass, as it can damage the glass. Spray the acid only on the affected areas or directly on the rag to remove the water marks.

Step 3: Wash the car. Once you remove all of the water spots from your vehicle's exterior, wash the vehicle thoroughly.

Use soap and water to completely remove any remaining traces of the chemical spray.

  • Tip: When spraying off your car, make sure that none of the chemical gets on any of the glass sections, such as windows and mirrors, on your vehicle. This might require you to wipe the vehicle exterior with a rag as opposed to spraying it with the hose.

Step 4: Dry the car. Dry the exterior of the vehicle thoroughly using a clean towel.

Make sure to get into the nooks and crannies, including around the grille, windows, and other areas where moisture likes to hide.

Step 5: Wax and polish the car. Chances are, the chemical spray removed the wax from the body of your vehicle. This requires you to reapply the car wax and to polish it using a car polisher.

Method 2 of 2: Using white vinegar

Materials Needed

  • Bottle of white vinegar
  • Car wax
  • Clean rags
  • Soap and water
  • Water hose

White vinegar, while not as corrosive or dangerous as other sprays and chemicals, can help remove water marks from your car's exterior. Using white vinegar does not remove water spots that have become etched into the paint, though it does provide a solution for removing water marks that have newly formed.

  • Tip: The best way to deal with water spots is to remove them before they can dry. To this end, keep a clean rag in your vehicle for just such a purpose, wiping them off as they appear.

car being washed by hand

Step 1: Wash the car. To remove water marks that have already dried, mix soap and water and wash the body of the car.

If you’re at the car wash, consider spraying on a pre-wash solution and letting it soak for a few minutes.

  • Tip: Grease-cutting dish detergents can help remove dirt and water spots. They also provide a barrier to help prevent such build-up in the future. Use of such products will strip the wax from your vehicle's exterior, requiring you to reapply it after washing and rinsing your car.

Step 2: Apply soap to the marked areas. Next, soap up the body of the vehicle, making sure to hit all of the areas using a clean rag. Rinse off the soap with clean water.

  • Tip: When washing your vehicle, start from the top and work your way down. This is especially important when rinsing your vehicle off, as the soap and water will run from the highest to the lowest point on the vehicle naturally.

Step 3: Wash the car with the vinegar solution. Using a mixture of water and white vinegar, wash the body of the vehicle again.

Rinse well with water. This should remove any water spots from the vehicle's exterior surface.

Step 4: Apply a coat of wax. Using the car wax and car polisher, re-apply a coat of wax to the vehicle. At this point, you can buff out any remaining blemishes with the buffer wheel or rag.

By using the provided methods, you can remove water spots from your vehicle's exterior in no time. If you still cannot remove the water marks, consider consulting with an experienced auto body professional for other options.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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