How to properly wash your car using rainwater

And you'll be helping the environment
by Manskee Nascimento | Jun 19, 2017

For those of us who like to keep our cars clean and shiny, the rainy season poses a huge challenge. Don't you just feel that Mother Nature's quite the prankster, because whenever you drive away fresh from a car wash it pours all of a sudden? There goes your moolah!


My old man once imparted some words of wisdom with me: Don't fight nature, work with her. That said, I've developed a very economical method which I have been employing for some years now, of keeping my ride squeaky clean during these wet months. 

Introducing the Rainwater Car Wash.

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It's not exactly rocket science, but I bet most of you have never tried or thought of using pure, unadulterated rain for the job. Allow me to show you how it's properly and easily done.

You will need:

*Two buckets  

*A microfiber wash mitt/towel 

*Quality car shampoo, preferably containing wax 

*Rainwater (whether straight from the sky or collected) 

*Dry microfiber towel 

*Detailer spray/wax 

*Glass cleaner

Before we begin, let's make sure the rain in your area isn't contaminated by damaging acids or pollutants that may cause water stains. This is a common occurrence for those who live in the city. Thankfully, I'm based in the province.

Perform a simple test by using a piece of glass or clear hard plastic and collect a few raindrops with it. Allow the drops to dry and inspect for stains. You can speed up drying by placing it under an incandescent bulb or the back of your fridge. It shouldn't take long.


If you see watermarks that can't be rubbed off with your thumb, it's a sign that the rain is contaminated. Don't fret. Usually this is the case from the first downpour after a long period of dryness. To be safe, allow the rain to persist for an hour or so before proceeding with washing. Trust me on the matter as I speak from experience.



Once you have the stuff you need ready, look for areas around your home where you can collect rainwater to fill up the buckets. The ridges on your roof or duct from your roof gutter would be perfect.

It would be wise not to collect from the first rainfall after a dry spell. Let the initial rainfall clean out the gutter/roof for you first then collect. In my case, I've placed a huge drum right under the roof gutter duct to stock up on rainwater which can be used for other things as well.

Let's start. If the downpour is heavy enough, you can do without the buckets (but it's always good to have a full bucket on standby) and just apply shampoo directly onto your wet microfiber mitt. Proceed to gently soap away. Of course, inspect mitt between soaping and squeeze out abrasive debris as the pouring rain aids you in rinsing.


If your vehicle is heavily soiled, the two-bucket method is still best so you can thoroughly rinse off your mitt from time to time and prevent scratching.

As always, begin from the roof of your car and work your way down to your side panels then wheels. This is actually quite relaxing as you won't break a sweat. At a laid-back pace, I can do my entire car in just 15 to 20 minutes.



Here comes the best part.

After soaping every square inch of your car's exterior, the downpour will take care of rinsing your vehicle and all you'll have to do is park in a ventilated, sheltered space such as an open garage and let it air dry. Yes, you read that right. Air dry

Pure rainwater doesn't contain salts, minerals and other contaminants found in tap, so you won't have to worry about watermarks or unsightly stains. Note: You can use the collected rainwater for a more thorough rinse especially when the rain has abruptly stopped.

When the task is done during the late afternoon/early evening showers, you can pretty much wake up to seeing your ride fresh as the morning the following day. Do minimal finishing touches with your detailer/spray wax and glass cleaner, and any marks left by the wash should wipe off in a flash.

Given you already have the items on-hand, the total cost for a wash is anywhere between P30 to P40. Rainwater has just become your new best friend and Mother Nature will love you for it.



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PHOTO: Manskee Nascimento
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