Good-looking windows are a key part of a good-looking car. No matter how good the paint looks, if a car rolls up with dirty windows that are totally covered in bugs and dirt, people will turn heads away instead of to the car you put so much time and energy into.
Even more importantly, you need to be able to see out of your windows to drive your vehicle safely. Water spots, although they look relatively harmless, can eventually build up over time to fog up your entire window or, worse, make your window structurally unstable and vulnerable to breaking.
No one wants that. So it’s important that you know how to remove water spots from car windows. But instead of taking your car into a full detailing service (which can run you up to a few hundred dollars in costs), let’s break down some ways you can treat water spots yourself using home remedies or alternative products and solutions. Let’s get started!
Why Do Water Spots Crop Up, Anyway?
In truth, your car might be suffering from water spots for a few different reasons. While most people attribute water spots and stains to regular rain, that alone may not be the culprit.
The source may differ, but virtually all water spots are caused by mineral deposits or “etching”, which we’ll detail below.
Types of Water Spots and Stains
Typical water spots are sometimes formed whenever hard water leaves a mineral residue on the windows of your vehicle. These minerals are usually magnesium, calcium, or something similar.
Unfortunately, water from any source can cause these spots, including rainwater, sprinkler water, or even water from certain car wash services! Over time, the deposits of these minerals form sort of like line scale and end up causing a lasting water spot that doesn’t go away without significant treatment.
Etched water stains aren't caused by regular mineral deposits. Instead, these stains are caused when puddles or small pools of water are exposed to intense heat or high amounts of sunlight over long stretches. As the temperature of your car’s windows gets higher and higher, the water spots can eventually become “etched” into the glass. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to thoroughly dry your vehicle after washing it – you really can’t just leave it out in the sun to dry.
Etched stains are among the most difficult to remove, and may require professional help or abrasive removal techniques like wet sanding.
Mineral stains, also called bonded mineral stains, occur when rainwater with particularly corrosive or acidic elements hits the glass or body of your car. Acid or toxic rain can be caused by any number of things, and you can even suffer these kinds of stains if you get rained on in the vicinity of smoke from vehicle exhaust pipes or manufacturing plants.
They’re similar to regular water stains in that they leave corrosive or toxic mineral deposits on the glass of your car. These minerals can eventually bond to the glass and become incredibly difficult to remove. Even worse, the minerals can corrode the glass over time, making them fragile and susceptible to shattering, or just making them look terrible.
How to Remove Water Spots and Stains
Fortunately, there are multiple ways in which you can get rid of water spots and stains from your glass windows without having to replace them wholesale.
Use a Thorough Glass Cleaner
First off, find an excellent window or glass cleaner and scrub away the water stain or spot with a microfiber cloth. This method works best with the first type of water spots described above, as you won’t accidentally wear down the glass material in most cases.
A microfiber cloth is recommended in most cases since it won’t leave small pieces of fabric behind, and won’t scratch the glass either.
Vinegar and Water
We know, this sounds a little crazy. But hear us out!
You can use vinegar and water to get rid of water spots because vinegar is incredibly acidic. When done correctly, you can neutralize the minerals in a water spot or stain without damaging the glass beneath. Again, be sure that you use a microfiber cloth.
You'll want to use a spray bottle with a vinegar and water solution. Make sure the solution has equal parts of both liquids. If you have too much vinegar, you can permanently damage your windows’ glass.
Saturate the areas of the water spot with the most mineral buildup and allow the solution to sit on the glass for a minute or two before scrubbing away. If you’re working on the inside, be sure to spray your rag or microfiber cloth instead of the glass itself to prevent the mixture from hitting internal components. Use Shine Armor’s Interior Cleaner to clean up after any accidental messes.
Use Lemon Juice
By the same token as the vinegar solution, you can slice a lemon in half and use the lemon juice inside to dissolve the minerals inside a water spot or stain. Since squeezing enough lemon juice to mix into a bottle is probably too time-consuming for most, you can instead just rub a slice of lemon on water spots instead.
Be sure to use plenty of pressure so you squeeze out enough acidic juice to do the job. Then wet a microfiber cloth and try to rub out the water spot over time. Another burst of glass cleaner over the top should also help get rid of any smears or dirt left behind.
Use Baking Soda and Water
Can you see a theme with all these? You can make a type of paste by combining a small amount of water with baking soda. Put this paste on a microfiber cloth, then scrub the water spot vigorously. The baking soda paste will have abrasive granules that can wear away the minerals and limescale-like buildup of the water spot.
After scrubbing away the spot to the best of your ability, rinse the glass thoroughly with water. You may want to only use this method for outside windows since there’s a higher likelihood of debris or paste scattering around the inside of your car.
We’d also recommend using a regular glass cleaner and newspaper to get rid of residue and streaks from your window glass.
How to Stop Water Spots from Coming Back
While running away water spots is the first part of the process, you’re not really done until you protect your glass from further spots accruing.
Shine Armor’s Nano Glass Coating is a product specifically developed to create a defensive layer for all your glass surfaces. Apply this to your windows with a microfiber cloth and you’ll protect them from any type of erosion, even the kind that can crop up from water spots.
Even better, you’ll see water spots much less frequently since the minerals that sink into your glass will first have to get through the durable layer created by our Glass Coating, which is pretty tough to do! It’s a perfect, long-term solution if you find yourself frequently having to scrub away water spots due to your environment or where you drive your vehicle frequently.
Water spots can be really annoying to get rid of, especially if they dot your car windows all over. But the good news is that you don’t have to spend money on expensive spot cleaning products or send your car to a full detailing service. Just use one of these easy remedies above and remember to combine them with a great glass cleaner and a glass coating, like our Nano Glass Hydrophobic Window Coating. Good luck!