How To Remove Hard Water Spots From Car Paint? (5-Step Guide)

Last Updated On October 15, 2021

Does your car have hard water spots that don't come out in the car wash? Here's a master guide on how to remove hard water spots from car paint.

So, before you do remove hard water spots from car paint, I recommend you read this quick guide that includes some tips and tricks.

How To Remove Hard Water Spots From Car Paint? (5-Step Guide)

In this ProPaintCorner.com guide you'll learn:

  • What you need to know about removing hard water spots from car paint
  • Supplies you'll need to remove hard water spots from car paint
  • The step-by-step process for removing hard water spots from car paint

So, before you do remove hard water spots from your car paint, I recommend you read this quick guide that contains everything you need to know.

What Do You Need To Know About Removing Hard Water Spots From Car Paint?

First, we should start by stating the fact that you can prevent hard water spots altogether by washing your car with soft water, or water that is hooked up to a water softener (not normal tap water).

What Are Hard Water Spots?

Mineral deposits like calcium, iron, and magnesium that are present in water are left on the surface of your car after it dries.

These mineral deposits cause hard water spots to build upon the surface of your paint, and they can seem nearly impossible to remove without the right solution.

When your car gets hit by sprinklers, for example, it can leave hard water stains that sometimes only a professional detailer has the patience and tools to take care of. 

What Is The Best Solution For Removing Hard Water Spots?

Elbow grease combined with any of these chemical solutions listed below. 

We've compiled a list of ideas that will help you get the job done. Check it out:

Start With The Most Basic Solution First

When removing hard water spots, start with something simple like white vinegar and a rag, and work your way up to an electric buffer or even wet sanding if all else fails.

Read More >> How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car Hood?

Did you know: It can cost anywhere from $150 to $500 to fix a car's paint job depending on where you go. Just another great reason to learn to DIY it!

What Supplies Will You Need For Removing Hard Water Spots From A Car's Paint? 

Here's a complete list of supplies that will help you remove hard water spots:

White vinegar

White vinegar is perfectly convenient for removing hard water spots from a paint job, and the average household already has white vinegar in stock, so Amazon buying may not be necessary this time.

Clay bar

Clay bars work wonders for cleaning hard water spots. Spray some white vinegar or your water spot remover product onto the affected surface, and try claying for hard water spot removal.

Water spot remover 

Water spot removers are countless, and you can buy them off of Amazon for the best possible price.

Buffer

An electric or pneumatic buffer is the bomb for quickly restoring the paint to its original form. You'll want the electric spinner for wet sanding, rubbing polish, and applying wax.

Applicator pads/applicator mitt

There are two different types of applicator pads-- one for a polishing compound, and one for applying wax.

Professional detailers keep both hand applicator and velcro applicators that hook onto the buffer tool. You'll also find applicator mitts that guard your hand against the nasty chemicals of fallout remover and other water spot remover products.

Read More >> How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car Door?

How To Remove Hard Water Spots From Car Paint (5-Step Guide)

Now that you know what supplies you'll need to get the job done, let's walk through the step-by-step process.

(Psst! You can click any of the links below to jump directly to that step.)

  1. Try white vinegar first
  2. Try a water spot remover product
  3. Buff it out with a rubbing compound
  4. Try wet sanding
  5. Apply wax, sealer, or ceramic coating(for best results)

Step 1 - Try white vinegar first

Pour a white vinegar solution into a spray bottle, spray it on the affected area, and let it sit. For impatient detailers, use a clay bar to rub the vinegar into the hard water stain.

This simple solution works wonders for removing hard water spots. After the water spots have disappeared, pass over the body panel with a rubbing compound, and then some carnauba wax for additional protection.

White vinegar didn't work? Do you want a more potent solution? No problem. Try any of the following steps.

Step 2 - Try a water spot remover product

There are plenty of different automotive hard water spot' remover products on the market that will work just fine. Use applicator pads or a mitt, microfiber towel, or a clay bar and go to town with any of the products below.

Make a quick search on Amazon, and pick the best option for you. Some examples include:

3D Eraser Gel

3D Eraser Gel is the most popular and highest-rated product for removing hard water spots on Amazon, so you can't go wrong by ordering a bottle or two.

Boat Bling

Boat bling is next on the list of popular products for removing hard water spots, and it comes in a convenient and reusable spray bottle.

Ultimate Bio-Clean

Boat Juice

..you get the point. Fallout remover is another product known to remove hard water spots.

Step 3 - Buff it out with a rubbing compound

A rubbing compound(polisher) is the magic potion for correcting paint jobs. Although it can take a lot of work to make a paint job look impeccable, the electric buffer is a cheap tool that is worth owning.

The ideal RPM for applying correction compound/rubbing compound is 1500-2000 RPM. 

Step 4 - Try wet sanding

Wet sanding is another last resort for getting rid of hard water spots. Use high-grit sandpaper (1500-3000 grit) to make a quick pass over the hard water spots to see if they come off.

Make sure the sandpaper is completely soaked in water to avoid swirl marks in your paint job.

Didn't work?

If the hard water spots/paint damage still doesn't come off when wet sanding, you'll have to constantly change the sandpaper to a lower grit until you take off the sufficient amount of paint material to eliminate the problem.

If it does so happen you ground down the basecoat, you'll have to pull the paint code on your car and perform some touch-up work before polishing it all out to perfection.

Step 5 - Apply car wax, sealer, or ceramic coating (for best results)

After you have the paint corrected and polished, it's time to protect it from dirt, small rocks, and UV rays. The most traditional way to protect a paint job is by covering it with carnauba wax. While wax does a great job, but we will say that it's a more temporary solution when compared to a ceramic coating, for example.

You can tone down the RPM down when applying wax. Something like 500 RPM will work great if you are using an electric buffer with variable speeds.

Car owners: Talk to a professional detailer in your area about installing a ceramic coating or exterior sealant on your entire car after it is detailed to perfection.

Remember to put the car in and out of direct sunlight when inspecting results.

Read More >> How Do You Repair Sun Damaged Paint?

Other Valuable Resources On How To Remove Hard Water Spots From Car Paint

Check out the Youtube video posted here where the guy tapes off his black Hyundai and compares these different techniques. 

You'll find that all methods work with a little bit of work. After all, you are basically removing a small amount of the clear coat with any of these techniques.

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

Got A Paint Question? Ask Your Pro Painter!

Learn More Expert Paint Tips

Painting shouldn’t be this hard. Check out some of these other helpful guides to help you nail the perfect paint job!

How To Remove Wood Stain?

Want to know how to remove the wood stain from projects like hardwood floors and

Read More »
How To Stain Cabinets?

Are you working on staining cabinets in your home? You’ve come to the right place!  In this

Read More »
How To Stain Concrete Floors?

Were you wondering how to stain concrete floors? Stay right here. In this ProPaintCorner.com article, we

Read More »

Want to know how to stain wood furniture? You’ve come to the right place! In this Propaintcorner.com

Read More »

Got Paint Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

About Pro Paint Corner

You’ve got painting questions. We’ve got the best painting answers from a network of seasoned painting pros.

Recently Published Guides