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Should You Wash A Car Before It Rains?

Sometimes it seems like it always rains right after you wash and wax your car. 

For some, it might seem fated when even a bright sunny day suddenly turns cloudy after a trip to the carwash.

Unfortunately, no one can really predict the weather, but what should you do if you know it’s going to rain? Are there any downsides to washing your car right before a rainstorm?

There aren’t any problems with it raining on your car after you wash it. In fact, if you can get your car washed and dried before it rains, you should. The wax will help repel water, helping to reduce water spots on your paint job.

When to Wash Your Car, Before or After it Rains?

Photo of a woman's hand washing a black car's window with a sponge.

It doesn’t matter if you wash your car before or after it rains. But, the better option is to wash it before it rains to help prevent water spots on the paint. 

Contrary to popular belief, your hard work washing your car won’t go to waste just because it rains afterward. 

It’s actually the complete opposite. 

Washing your car should always be accompanied by a wax. It seals the car against dirt, pollen, debris, and water. 

A good coat of wax will also repel water. Wax forces water to roll off the vehicle instead of pooling, which can lead to water spots and discoloration. 

Waxing the windshield is also important because it makes it easier to see if you drive your car in the rain.

If you can’t get it washed until after it rains, it’s no big deal, but if you haven’t cleaned it recently, you may want to consider it. 

No matter where you are in the world, rainwater contains contaminants. Washing your vehicle after a rain shower will help keep water marks and contaminants from making deep marks in your paint. 

It’s even more important if you live in a large city with acidic rain. 

Over time, acid rain eats away at your vehicle and causes existing rust spots to worsen, especially if you let the polluted water sit on the car for long periods of time.

People living in rural areas don’t need to worry as much about acid rain but should still consider wiping rainwater off their cars, regardless. 

Can Rain Wash Your Car For You? 

Leaving your car in the rain might seem like a decent way to get a free car wash, but unfortunately, you shouldn’t rely on rainfall to wash your car. 

Not only will you have to contend with watermarks, contaminants, and rust, but it also isn’t all that effective.

Heavy rain has a decent chance of knocking loose dirt and pollen off your car, but that’s about it. Road grime, set-in mud, and marks in the paint aren’t going to get cleaned off, no matter how hard it pours. 

Letting the rain wash your car may also leave it dirtier than before. Contaminants in the rain will dry and leave spots on the paint, windows, and lights. 

A clean windshield is also vital for driving around safely, especially if it rains while you’re on the move. If your windshield is clean, the water can bead and roll off easier, giving you a clear line of sight. 

At the end of the day, nothing can replace a good wash and wax for your vehicle. 

How To Protect Your Car From Rain

A man in a black polo shirt cleaning the car's hood with Torque Detail Mirror Shine.

Keeping your car clean is the best way to protect it from rain. If the car sat out in the rain, once it’s over, give it a wipe-down to remove gunk, grime, and rainwater contaminants.

Parking your vehicle inside can help a great deal as well. If you have a garage, you should keep your car inside whenever you aren’t using it. 

Bringing your car indoors prevents dust, pollen, dirt, and rain from settling on it. Over time, these can build up, damage the clear coat/paint, and accelerate rust spots. 

Car covers are not a good substitute for keeping your car inside. 

Instead of keeping water off, humidity and condensation cause them to stick to the vehicle, leading to the same problems associated with pooled water (i.e., rust and peeling paint). 

It’s also important to clean under the hood and keep any water channels free of debris. 

Leaves, dirt, and twigs can build up in certain areas (like above the hood), trapping water and preventing it from rolling off your vehicle as intended. 

Paint protection products and wax are vital for repelling water on your vehicle and keeping your paint looking bright and shiny. 

Overall, ensure the seals on your doors are in good shape, keep your car clean and dry, and store it indoors as much as possible. 


Generally speaking, it’s better to wash your car before it rains. It’s important to keep your vehicle clean and give it a good coat of wax to help repel water and prevent water marks on the paint. 

It’s also safer because a clean windshield gives you better visibility, especially when it rains.

There’s nothing wrong with washing a car before it rains, but you should wipe it down afterward to get rid of any grime and contaminants that can affect your car’s paint and body.

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