If you didn’t already know, the location in which you wash your car can have a massive outcome on how the finished article looks.
Washing your car in direct sunlight is a complete no-no.
The common recommendation is to wash your car in a shaded area, that’s cool and out of any direct sunlight, but they never say anything about the rain.
Does washing your car in the rain have hidden benefits or is it a waste of time?
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Will Rain Clean My Car?
There is absolutely no doubt that rainwater will clean your car, to an extent. It can also damage your car and affect the finish.
Rainfall will help to wash away loose dirt, pollen and other light contaminants that sit on top of your paint.
There is absolutely no chance that rainwater will remove stubborn contaminants such as bugs, road tar, and thick mud. It’s not powerful enough and it doesn’t have any washing products mixed in.
During a rain shower, your car will look a lot cleaner than normal. As the rainwater evaporates you will start to see contaminants and minerals that were in the air and water spotting may occur.
This is why a lot of the time after a rain shower, you may come out to spotty or streaky paintwork. Because of the dirt in the air that is picked up by the raindrops as it falls.
Normally your car will look a lot cleaner after rainfall. Does it still need to be cleaned? Probably more now than ever.
Wash Your Car Before, During of After The Rain
A lot of people worry about the small details like this. It’s a form of procrastination and really, a silly train of thought.
You should wash the car whenever it’s dirty.
Ideally, you would wash it on a cool day, out of direct sunlight or in a shaded wash bay. If you’re waiting for the perfect circumstances, you’ll never get round to washing the car.
Here are my thoughts on washing before, during and after rainfall.
Washing Before Rain
Depending on where you live, rain could be forecasted on most days. You can see how using this as an excuse would lead to not washing your car for months.
The best way to think about it is that your car will still be a lot cleaner after the rainfall even if you were to wash it moments before it rained.
If you work out and burn up 400 calories, but then decide to eat a 200 calorie donut, you still come out 200 calories ahead.
Yes, rain may make your car dirty again but if you have the right last stage protection, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
If the rain shower has left your car with streaks and water spots there are things you can do.
Using a waterless wash or quick detailer will allow you to remove the dirt and prevent any potential etching while adding an extra level of shine.
A clean car is always temporary. You will always have to work to keep it clean.
If you have a car cover or a garage that will hold your vehicle during rainfall, it will make sure it stays 100% clean.
Washing During Rain
There are potential benefits to washing your car during the rain but there are also major downsides.
Unfortunately, most rain-water is dirty. You’re just as well driving your car through the nearest puddle.
That being said, if you want to wash your car during the rain you can. It’ll be better than not washing it at all.
Washing in the rain will allow you to skip the pre-wash stage.
The rainwater will wash off light contaminants and may even loosen up stubborn dirt to an extent. It won’t be as effective as a snow foam stage, but it will certainly help.
The problem comes when the rainwater is dirty, it’s equal to someone sprinkling mud over your car while you work.
Not only that but when it comes to drying, you’ll have to find a sheltered area to dry the car.
It’s important to dry your car to remove product residue and prevent more water spotting.
The added rainwater will make this a little tricky if you don’t have a sheltered place to work.
Washing After Rain
Performing a car wash on or within 1 day of heavy rainfall is the best option.
The rainfall will wash your car of light contaminants, though the car may have new streaks and water spots. Despite this, the car will look cleaner and washing it will seem less effort.
Washing after rainfall will also allow you to clean those nasty mineral deposits from your car. If you don’t, they will etch into the paint and the car will need stages of paint correction.
As a general rule of thumb, you should perform a wash after the rain, especially if you live in a highly polluted area. Even if it is a rinseless or waterless wash.
Protect your vehicle
If you live in an area with high pollution, using the correct protection and keeping it topped up will keep your paintwork looking brand new.
Applying wax, sealant and/or ceramic coating will give your car extra hydrophobic qualities.
This will encourage dirty rainwater to slide right off your vehicle before it has the chance to dry.
Providing you stay on top of the wax and sealants, they’re great for the rainy season.
Ceramic coating will give you hydrophobic protection for upwards of 1 year but it does cost a lot more and requires experience to apply.