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How to remove hard water stains on auto paint

Updated February 21, 2017

Hard water stains are a common problem when it comes to the exterior of your car. These spots develop when your car comes into contact with water that has a high mineral content, such as heavy rain or dirty car wash water. The minerals in these hard water stains can actually cause damage to your auto paint, making it important to get rid of the hard water stains as soon as possible. Instead of taking your car to an expensive detailing shop, remove the spots yourself.

Wash your car with water and car shampoo as you normally would. Fill a cleaning bucket with a gallon of water and 3 tbsp of car soap. Rinse the car before washing. Dip a cleaning rag into the bucket of soap and then use the rag to wash the car. Rinse the car when finished cleaning.

Remove the hard water stains with white vinegar. Saturate a sponge with the vinegar and wipe it over your car, working in small sections at a time.

Let the vinegar sit for 30 seconds, then rinse with the garden hose.

Wash your car once more with the bucket of soapy water. Rinse the car with the garden hose.

Dry the entire car with a clean towel after rinsing to prevent new hard water stains from forming.

Apply a coat of wax, if needed, to restore the shine of your auto paint. Follow the application instructions on the wax label.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Car wash soap
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Sponge
  • Vinegar
  • Towel
  • Car wax (optional)
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About the Author

Mel Frank is a professional freelance writer with over 15 years of writing experience. She has completed a wide variety of writing assignments for a number of publications that include CNN and various websites. Frank received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from a prestigious university in Pennsylvania.