should i wash my car when it rains

We’ve all asked, ‘Should I wash my car when it rains?’ Then it rains.

You make plans for the day to spend time outside, taking the kids to the park, doing lawn maintenance, and washing the car.

If you’re curious about the pros and cons of washing your car in the rain, keep reading.

We’ll go over everything you need to know before grabbing your sponge.

While rain won’t wash everything away, there are several upsides to washing a car in the rain, like saving time and money. However, there are also a few downsides.

So, Should I Wash My Car When it Rains?

car wash on rain

It may seem like rainy days are a convenient time to wash your car. In many ways, they are! The pros and cons depend on your end goal.

The key to washing your car in the rain is that you can’t expect the rain to do all the work.

Not if you’re hoping to get your car clean, anyway. Rain is fine for a quick rinse, but a proper car wash will still require soap and a source of water.

Rain is fine for a little bit of dirt and dust. When it comes to heavy mud, grease, tar, and bird poop, you need some extra elbow grease.

You need to go in with soap and a sponge or cloth to get the job done.

car wash in the rain

And unless it’s raining hard, the rain won’t be enough to wash that soap away. You’ll need a water source like a hose to get rid of it.

While being out in the rain isn’t going to cause any real problems, that changes when thunder and lightning get involved.

If your car gets struck by lightning, those inside the car are perfectly safe.

During a thunderstorm, anything outside is at risk of being struck by lightning. That’s not just your car, but you, as well.

If the skies are lightning-free and you’ve got water and your cleaning agent, why not wash your car in the rain?

Tip: If your drizzle turns into a thunderstorm, play it safe and save the car wash for a different day.

There are a few pros and cons to consider.

Pros to Washing Your Car in the Rain

pros on washing car

Overall, you’ll find more pros to washing your car in the rain than cons.

When you wash your car in the rain, you can save money, save time, and avoid spots.

Saves Water

When you opt to wash your car in the rain, the rainwater provides an extra rinse.

You won’t need to use as much water when you have the rain helping you out. One area where this comes in handy is the pre-rinse.

You wouldn’t put shampoo in your hair without getting it wet. Many washes work better if the car is wet before you apply them.

it saves water

When you wash the car, it’s wet. Even if you store your car in a garage, it won’t take long to get wet enough to apply soap.

When you wash your car while it rains, all it should take is a quick rinse with the hose before the soap is all gone. The rain will also start rinsing the soap away as you work.

While it likely won’t get all the soap, especially in the nooks and crannies, it’s a good start.

For many, saving water is enough of a pro that they don’t need to consider anything else.

Saving water is good for the environment, and it’s good for your wallet, too!

Saves Time

save your time

For many of the same reasons, washing your car in the rain doesn’t just save water, but it also saves time.

Because the rain will get your car wet before you even begin, you don’t have to start hauling out the hose and spraying your car down.

Instead, you can grab your cleaner and cloth and get to work right away. Essentially, you get to skip an entire step.

Who doesn’t like that?

The rain also helps you rinse off the soap once you’ve scrubbed down your car. You don’t have to spend as much time hosing your car off. 

You and the rain get to tag-team the rinse, freeing up several minutes.

Of course, because you don’t have to pre-rinse and you spend less time rinsing off the soap, that saves water, too.

When you save water, you save money. When it comes to washing your car in the rain, time is money.

Reduce Spots From Soap and Hard Water

You would think that washing your car on a hot, sunny day would be a great way to cool off, and in some cases, it is.

But it’s also a great way to end up with soap stains.

reduce soap spots

When we wash our cars, we rinse, scrub it down with cleaner, and rinse again.

The problem comes when the sun dries the cleaner before we have a chance to rinse it the second time.

The higher the temperature and lower the humidity, the faster this happens.

When you wash your car in the rain, you don’t have to worry about soap drying. 

Not only will the first rinse of water not evaporate, but you have the bonus of the rain keeping everything wet.

So long as you’ve properly rinsed everything, you won’t end up with soap spots or residue.

If you deal with hard water, you might know it can leave unpleasant spots behind.

After you’ve rinsed the soap off, the rain will help rinse that water away so that the hard water won’t dry on your car either.


the cons

While washing your car in the rain mostly has pros, there are a few cons to consider.

No Wax or Polish

Not everyone opts to wax or polish their cars. If you’re one of the people who do, you probably already know that your car needs to be dry before applying anything.

Most waxes and polishes are not meant to be applied to wet surfaces and can even cause damage when mixed with water.

Those waxes and polishes will often advise you to keep your car out of inclement weather for some time.

Tip: If you typically wax or polish your car right after washing, you’ll want to hold off on that step until the weather clears up.

Expose it to Pollutants or Acid Rain

expose to pollutants

Rain isn’t pure water. Pollution and acid can damage your car. This may or not be a concern depending on where you live.

In the United States, rain pollution is the worst in Appalachia and New England.

Tip: If you live in an area with high acid rain or frequently inclement weather, try to park your car in a garage or covered lot as often as possible.

You Get Really Wet

get wet

This goes without saying, right? If you’re using a hose, you can usually stay out of the spray of water.

Unless you can juggle an umbrella while scrubbing down your car, you’re going to end up soaked.

Tip: If the weather is warm but rainy, try making it a fun family activity! Put on swimsuits and turn on some music. Then give the kiddos some sponges and let them go to town!


We hope you now know the answer to the question, ‘Should I wash my car when it rains?’

There are a few cases were washing your car in the rain may not work out so well.

If you live in an area with bad acid rain, you should do your best to keep your car protected.

You’ll also want to save a wax or polish for after everything dries up.

However, as long as you aren’t putting yourself at risk for a lightning strike, washing your car while it’s raining can be an eco-friendly time saver.