Is It Bad To Wash Your Car In The Rain? (All You Need To Know)

Is It Bad To Wash Your Car In The Rain


If you’re living in a place where lack of water is a problem, washing your car in the rain can seem like a practical solution. 

However, you might have also heard that rainwater is bad for your paintwork.

So now you’re at a cross-road of whether you should take advantage of the free water from the skies or if you should avoid it altogether, which is really impossible unless you can predict the weather when you’re out driving. 

Funny enough, other people’s main concern is how they’d look mental if they washed their car in the rain. 

So in today’s post, we’re going to make a comparison between the good side and the bad side of washing in the rain. 

By the time you finish reading this, you’ll be in a better position to decide if you should wash your car in the rain or not. 

Is rainwater good for your car, or not? Let’s find out right now. 

The Good Side Of Washing In The Rain

Washing in the rain can be economical if you think about the here and now. You’ll save water when cleaning your car. 

Plus, the rain’s force can soften and rinse off pollutants like tree sap, bug splats, dirt, and pollen to name a few. It can even give a little shine to weathered paint. For stormy levels of rain, even heavy road grime and mud will get the agitation it needs to get rinsed off. 

rain car wash softens tree sap and bug guts


If you’re willing to get soaked in the rain, all you need is a wash mitt and a car shampoo. No need for pre-rinsing and post-rinsing off the car. 

But are the benefits worth it? 

The Bad Side Of Washing In The Rain 

If you live in a place where heavy smog or pollution is present, in practically every high traffic city in the world, your car’s paintwork is more prone to damage. 

In these kinds of places, acid rain can be extra concentrated. It damages the earth, and your car too. 

The acidity of acid rain concentrates on your car’s surface as it dries, causing water spots. As it gets wet again, the acid is reactivated and seeps deeper into the paintwork, and eventually starts to cause corrosion and defects. 

rain car wash


As I’ve said earlier, you can’t really avoid the rain altogether. But if you limit your car’s exposure to it, your car’s paintwork will last longer. 

Another reason why washing in the rain isn’t good for your car is because it can be counterproductive. When it rains, you’ll get water puddles and mud that's splashed onto your car, making it dirty again the second you finish shampooing it. 

That’s not the end of it. Washing in the rain can’t assure you get to all the nooks and crannies of your car. You’ll only be limited to the parts the rain wets. This means road grime and mud stuck on the underside and tight spaces won’t be cleaned thoroughly. 

Unless you can park your car in a shaded area after a rain wash, you won’t be able to wipe your car dry. 

This will be a problem because this causes acidic water spots and you’ll get pools of water on inconspicuous parts of the car, like behind the doors, hood, and trunk. If you can’t get these parts dry after washing, the stagnant acidic water will cause pitting twice as fast. 

Recommended Reading: Does Washing A Car Prevent It From Developing Rust?

Get The Best Of Both Worlds

Granted, rain can soften pollutants and knock them off the car’s surface minus the scratches. And it helps you save on water. 

But because of its acidity, rainwater will cause water spots and rust formations. 

What you can do is to pre-rinse your car in the rain and shampoo it there if you’re willing to get soaked. Use a car cleaning gun to get to all the nooks and crannies and dislodge stubborn dirt and mud. Then transfer the car to a roofed area to rinse off the shampoo using tap water. 

This way you’ll ensure the last type of water that gets in contact with your paintwork is not the acidic one.  

After thoroughly rinsing it with tap water, wipe your car dry with a microfiber towel. Make sure to open the doors to wipe off the concealed areas where water can pool. 


rain car wash doesn't allow to wipe down doors

Protect Your Car Against The Rain

To make sure your car’s paintwork doesn’t get dull and rusted easily, an extra layer of protection will do the trick. 

You can add a layer of car wax or a clear coat protectant like Rain-X to prevent acid rain from etching your car’s paintwork by letting it repel the acid. 

Recommended Reading: Top 7 Automotive Shampoos For Ceramic Coats


If you noticed earlier, I mentioned that washing your car in the rain can be economical for the here and now. Simply said, it won’t do good to your car in the long run because it’ll cause rust to form prematurely. 

But again, you can’t avoid getting your car wet with rain altogether. You’ll be bound to drive on a puddled and muddy road on a rainy day. 

To protect your car, rinse rainwater immediately or give it a good wash in a roofed area. Dry it thoroughly and give it an extra layer of protection so the clear coat isn’t directly exposed to paint damaging elements. 

So is it bad to wash your car in the rain? Yes, it is. It’ll damage your car’s paintwork and affect its resale value if you plan on selling it in the future.

Rainwater can seem harmless because we can’t see with our naked eye how chemicals interact with the car’s surface. 

But one day you’ll wake up to see how much a seemingly gentle rain has caused damage to your car. 

The good thing is, you know the pros and cons of rainwater now. You also know actionable tips on how to handle rainwater by getting in touch with your car. 

Take a little extra effort to protect your car against the acid that rain brings and you’ll be amazed at how long you can keep your car looking brand new. 

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