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Washing Cars In The Rain? (Good or Bad)

Image by Kunal Mukherjee from Pixabay

Image by Kunal Mukherjee from Pixabay

Washing Cars In The Rain? (Good or Bad)

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You may think that waiting on the inevitable rain would be the logical solution to a common chore that would save time, money, and effort. 

However, once you combine the water quality of the rain, and the value of your vehicle, the money that you save could become money in the hole without the right techniques.

Washing a Car in the Rain

1. Pre-rinse

The Rain may save you time from having to spray your car down before shampooing. As the first step of any car wash, your car has to be wet before applying shampoo. This will loosen up any debris, allowing the soap that you apply to cleanse the surface without any extra dirt in the way.

2. Shampoo

Use a wash mitt like the ones by The Rag Company and a trustworthy car shampoo such as the Honeydew Snow Foam Car Wash Soap and Cleanser to thoroughly wash and wipe down the surface of the vehicle. By using these two products, you will prevent micro-scratches in the paint and achieve a more professional clean, like one from a car wash. The rain will allow you to wash the car at your own pace, which may give you a better clean as a result.

3. Rinse 

You still want to aid the rain in washing off the shampoo to make absolutely certain that the vehicle is fully rinsed. Without getting a complete rinse during a car wash, you may get a film from the shampoo. This can make the surface of your vehicle look like it has more dirt on it than when you started. This leads to a waste of your time and the unwanted appearance of a dirty vehicle.

Should I wash my car today?

If you’re going for ideal, then a cloudy day, early morning, in about 70-80°F weather is the prime car washing temperature. You should never wash your car in direct sunlight as it dries the soap before you can wash it off causing water spots and film to become quickly apparent.

However, these ideal days are far and in between for people in rainy climates, so does that mean they can’t wash their cars regularly? Absolutely not. You can’t control the weather and with the proper technique, you can wash your car in the rain. However, this is based on the assumption that you are planning on actually washing your car and not just letting the rain roll off of it, saying it’s clean, and calling it a day.

Will a car in rain get clean?

No! Rain can make your car dirtier from the contaminates that it gathers in the air. Rain water also doesn’t effectively wash the undercarriage of your vehicle, regardless of the number of puddles that you run through. 

If you live in an area where dirt and salt are often present on the roadways, cleaning the underneath of your vehicle is a must! If you don’t clean these areas, you will be faced with corrosion which will ultimately ruin your car. 

Be sure to wash your car on a routine basis every two weeks to make sure your car is kept in good condition. 

Will the rain remove my car wax?

A good coat of wax can help protect the car and its paint from the harmful effects of rain water by acting as a barrier. Wax is hydrophobic which repels the water as it hits the car, allowing it to bead up and roll off the surface. 

A good coat of wax will last from 6 months to a year in normal conditions, regardless of rain.

Does rain damage car paint?

Raindrops, in certain locations, can cause more hurt than help. This is due to acid rain which is formed by compounds of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides being released into the air. These compounds have the capability to rise high into the atmosphere and mix with the hydrogen and oxygen that make up water and form acidic compounds.

When acid rain water falls on the vehicle, the water will evaporate, but the acid will not. The standing acid will become more concentrated as it sits in the sunlight. Whether your car is newly painted or hasn’t been painted in years, this is still a sure-fire way to decrease the overall aesthetic value of your car. This can be easily prevented by understanding how acid rain can affect your car.

This is a scary thing to think about due to us still having to drive in the rain to go about our daily lives, but the bottom line is, don’t let rain sit on your car over long periods of time, especially if you live in a big city. Big cities tend to have more acidic rain quality due to the number of pollutants in the air, so it would just be something to keep in the back of your mind.

What about drying?

Ideally you’ll dry your car with a touchless method as well. Drying touchless involves forced air. 

Some people simply use a leaf blower to get the job done. There are purpose-built hand-held air dryers that are better suited for the job. 

The key to using forced air to dry your car is to blow air into all the nooks and crannies where water can hide. This will prevent water from running down the side of your car when you drive away after a wash. If water runs down the side of your car and dries it will leave water spots.

Drying is less critical to perform touchless since hopefully all the scratch-causing grit has been washed away. If you opt to not go with touchless drying you should get a good quality microfiber drying towel to dry your car. 

Microfiber is very gentle on your finish and highly adsorbent. Not only can it suck up a huge amount of water but it can also trap dirt within its fibers and help protect your finish from scratching. No matter which route you go, you should dry your car to prevent unsightly and difficult to remove water spots.

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Washing your car in the rain isn’t a problem and can even save you time. The rain itself isn’t inherently harmful but can be when you rely on the rain to do all the cleaning and as a result, deprive your car of a proper wash.

Regardless of your personal preference, as long as you are aware of the dangers of acid rain and take the proper precautions–it shouldn’t be a huge deal as to when you wash your car. Rain or shine.

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