How To Wash a Car in the Sun – Top 6 Tips

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guy washing a car on a sunny day

It’s always hard to have ideal circumstances when washing your car. Especially if you live in some hot place such as Texas or California. Many people don’t have a dedicated place to wash their vehicles, so they have to do it even on sweltering and sunny days.

Today, I’ll show you six tips on how to wash a car on a hot sunny day. I know that it may be hard to follow all the tips below, but try to implement most of them.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Wash your car earlier in the morning or later in the evening
  2. Wash one section at a time
  3. When you finish one side, turn your vehicle to the other side
  4. Use deionized water for final rinsing
  5. Keep the car wet all the time
  6. Be as quick as possible

Tips For Washing Your Car On a Hot Sunny Day

In my opinion, whenever the temperature in your area exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius), you should be careful and try to follow the tips I’ll show you below.

1. Wash The Car Earlier in The Morning or Later in the Evening

You should avoid washing your car in the middle of the day. Usually, the temperature will reach its maximum between 12 and 4 pm, and that’s the time you should avoid.

So, my suggestion is to wash your car early in the morning or later in the evening. It’s better both for you and for your vehicle. Your vehicle will be easier to wash and dry, and you won’t get tired so quickly because you won’t work in direct sunlight when the temperatures are at their highest.

If you can, try not to wash your car during that period. However, if you’re not able to follow this tip, check out the other suggestions.

2. Wash One Section At a Time

Washing one section (or one side) at a time is beneficial if you’re detailing your vehicle on a sweltering and sunny day. 

Here’s my advice:

  • Pre-rinse the whole car
  • Pre-wash one side or one panel (depending on how you’ll do it)
  • Wash that section
  • Dry the section

When you finish with one section (or side), go to another one and repeat those steps. 

3. Rotate Your Vehicle After Completing One Side

When undertaking the task of washing your car on a sunny day, it’s important to note that only one side of your vehicle is fully subjected to the sun’s rays at any given time. Therefore, it’s a smart strategy to start with the side that’s currently in the shade.

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the shaded side, rotate your vehicle to expose the other side. While this may seem like an extra step, it significantly simplifies the detailing process and ensures an even, thorough clean.

4. Use Deionized Water

DI or deionized water is hugely beneficial when washing your car, especially if you do it in the sun. Deionized water is filtered water that doesn’t contain any minerals, so it won’t leave any water spots when it dries.

If you’re a mobile auto detailer, having a machine that deionizes water is as essential as having a vacuum to clean the interior of your vehicle. 

Of course, you don’t have to use the device all the time, but make sure to use it when you’re doing the final rinse of the car. That way, you’ll get a spot-free finish, even if you don’t dry the car with a microfiber towel. 

5. Keep The Car Wet

In order to prevent the car from being too hot, you should keep it wet all the time. So I like to spray it with a bit of water every few mins.

Just take your hose and spray the whole car quickly. That will keep the car cooler and provide the paint with more lubrication, so there are fewer chances of causing swirl marks and scratches.

Of course, there’s no need to spray it every 30 seconds. That’ll take too much of your time. But make sure not to let the car paint dry or overheat because of the sun.

6. Try To Wash Your Car Quicker

The last tip I’ve got for you is to be quick and do everything as quickly as possible. Of course, don’t cut corners, be thorough and do the detailing job properly. But, try to be faster.

You may not be very fast the first couple of washes, but with more and more experience, you’ll manage to wash cars very quickly

If you wash the car too slowly, the sun will probably dry some of the chemicals, and that can make the whole task much harder.

Additional Tip: Consider Buying a Canopy

If you often detail your car, you’re a mobile detailer, or you’re just starting a car detailing business and your only place to detail cars is outside, you might want to get a canopy for car detailing.

There are some dedicated popup canopies out there that are straightforward to assemble. It only takes 5-10 minutes to assemble it, and you’ll do your job much easier and more efficiently.

The canopy is also great if it’s raining outside, so you can use it all year long. Whether it’s sunny or rainy, you can use it to make the detailing job easier.

COOSHADE 13x13Ft Pop Up Canopy Tent Instant Folding Shelter 169 Square Feet Large Outdoor Sun...
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I’ve been looking for some great canopies, and this is one of the best out there. This COOSHADE 13×13 feet canopy is fantastic. It’s big enough for most cars. Even if it doesn’t cover the vehicle 100%, it’s still beneficial.

The best thing about it is that you don’t need another person to help you. You can assemble it by yourself. That’s why you should look for a popup canopy. 

Also, when you don’t need it, it won’t take up a lot of space in your garage or inside your mobile detailing vehicle.

Issues With Washing a Car in the Sun

wet car in sunlight

Here are some reasons why you should avoid washing your car in the sun:

  • Snow foam, car soap, and other chemicals will dry on your car before you have a chance to rinse them.
  • Water will dry too quickly, which can cause water spots that are very hard to remove from the vehicle’s paint.
  • Rinsing the car while the paint and windows are too hot may lead to paint or glass damage.
  • It’ll take you more time since you need to be extremely careful and thorough.
  • You won’t be able to “detail” your car since you’ll have to rush with everything.

Related: Best Water Spot Removers

With that said, try to avoid washing your car in direct sunlight. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. However, if you don’t have any choice, check the tips below.


Is it OK to wash a car in the sun?

I don’t recommend washing a car in the sun due to the risk of water spots and chemical stains. However, if you must, ensure you follow certain precautions like using pH-neutral products and keeping the car wet throughout the process.

Can I let my car dry in the sun?

You shouldn’t let your car dry in the sun because it can lead to water spots. It’s much better to manually dry your car using a microfiber towel or a drying aid.

What is the best temperature to wash a car?

In my experience, the ideal temperature to wash a car is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This range allows for effective cleaning without the risk of rapid water evaporation.

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