Washing Your Car in the Rain: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Budget, climate, and proper maintenance all play a role in whether or not rain can be an effective method for washing your car—learn if it’s right for you!
Written by Drew Waterstreet
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Washing your car in the rain: lazy or genius? Driving around in the rain or grabbing a bucket with soap and letting rainwater do the hard work is free and reduces water spots, but the rainwater may not provide the car-wash level quality you’re looking for.
But before we jump to conclusions, let's hear both sides of the story! To help mediate this debate is the
team, the car insurance experts you can trust to
keep your car protected
. We’ll comb through the pros and cons of washing your car in the rain and help you arrive at an overall conclusion. 
So grab your umbrella and let’s get started!

Pros of washing your car in the rain

It’s free

Mother Nature is the gift that keeps on giving—but sometimes we forget that. They say there’s no such thing as free lunch, but Mother Nature would beg to differ. So save the money you’d spend on a basic car wash and let her work her magic!
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Reduces water spots

Not only is rainwater free, but it’s also better at reducing water spots than traditional tap water out of the hose. This is because tap water is technically “hard water,” which means it is rich in minerals. So as the water evaporates, the minerals are left behind (i.e., your water spots).
Regular waxing will also help this. Believe it or not, car wax isn’t just for show. It also provides a layer of protection on your vehicle that helps prevent water spots from forming.

Avoid the line at the car wash

This should be reason enough to go with an all-natural rainwater wash instead of waiting in a car wash line that’s a baker’s dozen deep with vehicles.

Cons of washing your car in the rain

Not quite as effective

Admittedly, the rain only provides a surface-level cleaning for parked cars. Sometimes only a car wash can get to all hard-to-reach places on your vehicle, like the wheel wells, grille, and bumpers. Driving around while it rains will help get your car a little cleaner, but it’s still not on par with a good ol’ car wash.

Less routine

Mother Nature may be gracious, but she’s not reliable. In the summer months, there can be weeks without rainfall. Relying strictly on rain for your car washes is simply not consistent enough to prevent dirt and grime from building up on your car. 
Improproper exterior maintenance on your vehicle can cause two serious problems: damage to your paint job and reduced aerodynamics
Bottom line: Your car will only get dirtier, so don’t wait for the rain to come to you.

Acid rain

As mentioned earlier, rain is typically purer than tap water. But that’s not always the case in cities with high pollution. On the way down from the clouds, the rain collects pollutants from the air—otherwise known as acid rain.
When acid rain hits your car, it can etch into your vehicle's clear coat and give the impression of permanent water spots. In these climates, it’s almost better to hit the car wash after it rains to wash off this residue—as counterintuitive as that sounds.
MORE: How to use a Ryko, LaserWash, or self-service car wash
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First and foremost—regardless of whether you use rainwater or a traditional car wash to clean your vehicle, regular waxing is essential to protecting the health of your car’s exterior. Both arguments benefit from this maintenance activity.
After that, each has its pros and cons. Rainwater is free, saves you time, and reduces water spots (in low pollution environments). And traditional car washes give you a deeper clean and help you maintain a better routine.
But we have an idea to combine the two arguments! Every time it rains, grab your swimsuit & soap bucket and give your vehicle a hands-on all-natural deep clean. You may get funny looks from your neighbors, but don’t worry—just tell them Jerry told you to!

Protect your vehicle with affordable car insurance

Affordable car insurance is like a good coat of wax: attractive and productive. 
But unlike going to the auto parts store to pick up a fresh can of wax, the
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Budget, climate, and proper maintenance all play a role in whether or not rain can be an effective method for washing your car—learn if it’s right for you!
Acid rain is an acidic form of precipitation that occurs in highly polluted environments, mainly caused by the industrial burning of coal and other fossil fuels.
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