How to Wash Your Car Under Direct Sunlight

Washing car in direct sunlight - mobile car detailing

While washing your car in the shade or during the cooler parts of the day is generally recommended, it’s not always practical. Sometimes, life’s schedule dictates when you get time to wash your car. 

The good news is that with a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you can confidently tackle a car wash even in direct sunlight.

In this guide, we’ll go over how to wash your car effectively even when the sun’s rays are at their most intense. 

Say goodbye to water spots and streaks, and get ready to enjoy a spotless, sun-kissed ride that’s ready to turn heads.

Don’t forget to wear a hat, a pair of sunglasses, and sunscreen!

Is it Bad to Wash Your Car in the Heat?

We all know leaving your car outside on a hot sunny day with no shade for a long period of time is a bad idea. Washing your car under the heat of the sun, on the other hand, is very doable.

People usually avoid washing their car in direct sunlight because water and soap tend to dry quickly. This can leave unsightly water spots and streaks all over your vehicle.

However, if you do it right and quick, washing your car in the summer heat can be safe.

How do I wash my car in the sun?

You will need all the regular tools you usually use to wash your car with. Water buckets, microfiber towels, pressure washer or garden hose, soap, etc. The only special item you need for this is a portable water deionizer. It is the best tool to wash your car without getting water spots, as explained later.

Here’s a step-by-step guide that you can use to wash your car under direct sunlight like a pro:

Step 1: Wear proper attire

Wearing a proper attire is vital when washing your car under the heat of the sun. You should consider wearing a hat, long sleeves, work pants, gloves, and a mask.

Having the right protective gear keeps you safe from getting sunburn, inhaling chemicals, and preventing dirt from getting into your eyes.

Other than protecting your skin against the heat, it’s also important to hydrate. Make sure you have a large water flask or bottle nearby to refresh yourself.

Washing your car on a really hot day is no joke. Worst case scenario, you can get dehydrated and pass out.

That being said, don’t get stuck washing a particular dirt or grime. If it’s taking you longer than usual to remove a particular dirt, try removing it at a different time of day when the sun is down.

Step 2: Start Washing the Wheels And Tires First

An expert car detailer knows that removing dirt on the wheels and tires first is the smartest thing to do when washing your car. You’ll want to clean the dirtiest part of your vehicle first before the paint.

If you clean the top of your car and work your way down, you’ll risk splashing dirt and brake dust back on your clean paint.

Once you remove the dirt and rinse the wheel, it will no longer splash dirt onto your paint.

After you’re done washing the car, you can now dry the wheels using a leaf blower and microfiber towels. That way, you prevent getting water spots on the surface.

Step 3: Use a Portable Water Deionizer

One of the most useful tools you can invest in for washing your car is a portable water deionizer. It’s the best tool to prevent water spots from forming on the surface of your vehicle.

You can buy any water deionizer depending on your needs. River Islands Car Salon uses an On-The-Go portable water deionizer. You can buy from other brands such as Adams, Griot’s Garage, CR Spotless, etc.

Water spots form when hard water dries on your car’s surface. Washing your car under the heat of the sun makes the water dry on the paint faster. The hard water passes through the deionizer and it removes the dirt and minerals (mainly calcium and magnesium) in the water, making it soft. 

This way, even when you’re washing your car on a hot day, you won’t have to worry about the water drying quickly on your paint and forming water spots because it’s been deionized.

If you want to know more about how to remove, prevent and avoid water spots on your car when washing on a hot day, check out our guide we just linked.

Step 4: Wash Section by Section using the Towel Method and Rinse-less wash solution

Use the towel method in order to avoid scratching your paint. You can combine this method with a rinse-less wash solution. Just as the name suggests, you’re going to need several towels, and a bucket of a rinse-less wash solution and start the washing process.

A rinse-less wash solution acts like a car soap minus the suds so you won’t have to rinse or hose it off. You can use Optimum No Rinse (aka ONR), a very popular product among expert car detailers. Using this method will not only save your energy and time on a hot sunny day but also conserve water.

Step 5: Spray Wax as a Drying Aid

Now that you have washed your car section by section using the towel method with the water-saving rinse-less wash solution, you can now apply spray wax and wipe.

The area you sprayed wax on will be protected from the area you’re about to wash. You can apply the final layer of your chosen wax inside the garage for further protection.

Aside from acting as a protective layer, spraying wax on your car’s surface also acts as a drying aid after washing your vehicle. This helps make sure that your car is well protected from the heat of the sun.

Step 6: Wash and Dry Quickly

It’s important to try to wash and dry the car as quickly as possible. Wash with your arms and whole body, and not by hand, meaning wash in a wide range of motion. This way, you cover the entire panel efficiently.

Washing and drying your car quickly means you won’t have to stay long under the heat of the sun. However, by doing this, make sure that you’re not compromising the quality of the washing itself.

If you’re washing your car on a hot day, do it quick and make sure to do it right or else you’re going to have to do it again.

In order to dry your car quickly and efficiently, invest in a leaf blower. You can also keep multiple microfiber towels in large sizes to help cover and dry as many areas as possible.


Now that you know how to wash your car in direct sunlight, grab your bucket and start cleaning. It’s possible to wash your car on a hot day with the right tools and method. All you need is a portable water deionizer, a leaf blower, and some microfiber towels.

First, you have to make sure that you’re wearing protective gear to protect you from the sun and the chemicals you’re going to use. Washing the wheels and tires first is a smart move so you can keep your paint free from dirt and mud splashes.

A portable water deionizer helps keep water spots from forming on your car’s surface. A leaf blower helps dry your car quickly and efficiently. Both are great investments in cleaning your car!

Just follow these 6 easy steps and you’ll be cleaning your car on a hot day effectively.

If you don’t have time or energy to wash your car under the heat of the sun, River Islands Car Salon can do it for you! We offer mobile wash and wax services so you don’t have to clean your car on a hot day. We serve all of San Joaquin County, including Lathrop, Manteca, Tracy, Ripon, and Stockton. We can also drive to Modesto outside of the county.

Contact us to get a free quote now!