Hard Water Spots On a Vehicle

What is the Cause of Hard Water Spots on a vehicle?

If you have ever thought it was a good idea to have your car parked next to an area that regularly gets hit by sprinklers because you think that it means a free car wash..think again! Utah has some of the worst hard water in the nation and do you know what city in Utah is one of the worst offenders? If you guessed Salt Lake City you are correct. While sprinkler water is not the only culprit, for most the vehicles we see this is the most common hard water spot producer by far.

Hard Water Spots on Car from Sprinklers

Hard water comes from water having high levels of calcium and magnesium. The white build-up that can be seen on the end of your shower or faucet head is a good indication that you have hard water. That is the calcium that, overtime, will build up and can cause build-up damage. The areas of the hard water that become visible once it dries is the calcium. The calcium doesn’t become visible until the water dries. ‘Hard water spots’ is the common term used for those areas that become visible. If ignored or not taken care of, those areas will become harder and harder to eliminate. Especially if they are exposed to the sun for a long period of time. If it is continued to be ignored, the calcium in the water can actually etch into the paint causing possible permanent damage. If you haven’t picked it up by now, you don’t want hard water spots on your car so you will want to stop parking by the sprinklers as soon as possible. It’s not washing your car, you’re adding to the work that it will take to really wash and detail your car.

If you’re just learning that it’s bad for your clear coat/paint, you either just went and moved your car to a different spot or won’t park where sprinklers hit anymore. The water that goes through your home absorbs the calcium and magnesium minerals from the ground and then makes its way through the pipes and faucets of your home. This can especially be proven when it rains. You will notice that when it rains, the rain water will not leave severe water spots on your vehicle, unless the air is dirty or there is dust in the air while it rains.

How do you remove Hard Water Spots from a vehicle?

Now that I have taught you most of what I know about hard water and how water becomes “hard”. Now we are going to get into the removing of these stubborn hard water spots. It’s important to remember that you don’t want to compromise the integrity of the clear coat/paint. So you want to avoid using cleaning agents that aren’t safe for car paint or don’t have the proper PH balanced soap. The sad news is that it will take much more than car soap to remove hard water spots. In most hard water cases it will take using an acid cleaner. Many of the acids that are most effective will need to be handled with care. Believe it or not there actually is a hard water removal acid. When properly diluted and correctly used, it can produce some amazing results. I will give a rundown of how I most effectively use acid to remove hard water spots.

The first thing I do is spray the area with some water. Sounds redundant because water is how we got in this mess in the first place but I digress.

The second thing I do it to spray the acid on the affected area. It is wise to dilute the acid. The less the dilution, the smaller the area you should work on at a time. You DO NOT want to put yourself in a situation where you are trying to rush to get the acid off of a large area. If the acid is left on the car it can cause severe damage to the clear coat of your vehicle.

The third step is what i call the agitation step. To agitate, I do an extremely quick spray of water. Not to spray the acid off but to, what I call, activate it. 

I then quickly grab the scrub brush or wash mitt and scrub the target area. If the area is really bad I will even spray some acid on the brush or mitt to assist with the hard water removal. 

After you have given the area a good scrubbing. Give it a good water rinse. You will have to dry the area to really see how much and how well the hard water spotting was removed. You will really be able to tell if you caught it early enough if the hard water is most to all of the way gone.

If you were successful in eliminating the hard water spots, you will want to prevent it from happening again. My first piece of advice for preventing it would be to not let your car get hit by sprinklers again BUT if that’s inevitable then I would say to keep a good wax or sealant applied to the paint at all times. Many waxes won’t completely stop from hard water spots appearing but they should make any new water spots that appear much more easy to remove. Even without needing to use acid. Depending on the consistency of your vehicle getting hit and/or the severity of the calcium in the water you will want to make sure that you apply multiple coats or use a high quality wax or sealant to protect the clear coat.

How do you remove severe Hard Water Spots from a vehicle?

Hard Water Spot Etching in Paint

If you are not successful in eliminating the water spots with a water spot remover chemical it is safe to say that you weakened them enough to proceed with paint correction steps. Any of the steps in the paint correction process may contribute to removing the hard water spots. Starting with spraying hard water removing acid on the surface and giving the vehicle a good clay bar treatment. A clay bar treatment is a procedure that removes surface contaminants from the paint. Be sure to keep the work areas small, lubricated and to rinse with water regularly and dry.

If that does not work then you could be looking at paint that has actually been etched from the hard water. It is also possible that the “water spots” you see still were actually caused by acid rain or other chemicals that splashed or found their way onto your vehicle’s paint. To fix this you could be looking at a process that could involve wet sanding, compound buffing, polishing, etc. Word of advice…don’t have to get to that point. Deep hard water removal can be expensive and cause damage to the clear coat and paint. I will close with a sonet. ‘Hard water break-ith the spirit of thy automobile’. That is all my friends. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a detail service, request one here, or give us a call or text (801) 412-9274, or email. Safe Travels! 

by Andy Stallings, CD, Operations Manager, Onsite Detail

Most popular detailing services this Summer

The most popular detailing services this Summer we’re probably some of the following;

  • RV Details
  • Boat Details
  • Hard Water Removal
  • Interior Details
  • Overspray Removal
  • Buffing & Polishing

Summertime is a special time of year.  It’s the time when we travel, join friends and family outdoors for festivities, and when fresh fruits like watermelon are ripe and juicy.  The sun sets later, the air is hot, and campgrounds open after slumbering all winter long. As our kids’ summer vacations prepare to make way for the Back to School sales, we know it will still be a few months before we start to feel the chill of fall.  

This time of year brings special kinds of messes to us here at Onsite Detail.  As we come close to Labor Day and the end of summer vacations, we want to share with you some of our most popular detailing services done this Summer 2019!

RV and Boat Details

It’s no surprise that when it gets warm, the big toys come out!  Lakes fill up from winter snow and campgrounds light up with fire pits and families.  Starting around late May we started to see a steady growth in requests to clean RVs, Boats, Motorhomes, and other big vehicles.  

We have done just about everything there is to do with big vehicles.  Our detailers have spent many hot days removing oxidation and rust from vehicles, cleaning dirt and grime from the exteriors, took care of sun damage, and added protective sealants all around.  We have even gone in and cleaned the inside of a few, including some particularly nasty vehicles. In June we cleared one RV’s refrigerator of maggots, and just this month we deep cleaned a rat-feces infested motorhome.  Now we prepare to detail a few more for the Labor Day weekend and winter storage, and have even scheduled some for their return from Burning Man!

Sprinkler Hard Water Removal

Our hand washes have made hundreds of cars shine in the sun!  However, some have come in needing a little extra elbow grease- and hardwater stain removal.  Now that sprinklers have been on all summer, we have seen multiple cars come in with hardwater spots dotting the paint and windows of a car.  Thankfully we have been able to take care of many a stain.

In addition to removing hardwater, we have also been selling Glassparency to help water and debris fall off the windshields and vehicle glass!  This not only helps keep glass clear; it also helps rain and snow from sticking to it, which adds life to the windshield wipers.  You may want to consider it as we go into more rainy months. Check out more here https://onsitedetail.net/windshield-and-glass-coatings/.

Interior DetailsInterior Car Detail Utah

We have done hundreds and hundreds of interior details this summer!  Whether on their own or as part of a package deal, we have cleaned just about every kind of mess inside of a vehicle.  While our customers work hard in their businesses or are taking care of things in the home, we have helped make their lives easier and healthier by cleaning the interiors of their vehicles.  

We have taken care of everything from pet hair and food spills to vomit and deep stains.  Our vacuums and steamers have worked overtime, and we have used gallons of shampoo on all different types of carpets and seats.  We love sharing photos among ourselves of a job well done and have been told by customers that their interiors look as good as new.  You have been busy this summer, so we are glad we could help take away some of the work!

Overspray Removal

Summer means fun in the sun… and construction.  Lots and lots of construction. I’ve received so many calls in need of overspray removal this summer, some even from reputable companies who just had an accidental spill that caught a car.  Between paint from the streets, debris that falls from buildings, and tar on the roads, we have fixed it all.  

Among our more extreme situations was a case where concrete had been kicked up on the front of a car, and another was where five or six cars had paint splattered all over, including the roof!  We have certainly mastered our overspray techniques this summer. And if it’s not overspray we are taking care of, it might be…

Buffing & Polishingpaint correction utah

Utah is notorious for its gravel and sandy roads.  When not getting the car dirty and forcing people to use car washes that leave swirl marks, rocks kick up and scratch our cars.  Damage like this makes our vehicles unsightly and can lead to future problems like rust or oxidation if not taken care of.

Thankfully our Buffing & Polishing service has prevented a lot of this damage from this summer alone.  We have had many cases of cars, vans, RVs, and even boats receiving some buffing and polish to smooth them out and keep them healthy, per se.  Among our more interesting cases were a front door of a car that a dog always ran up to and scratched upon seeing the owner, leaving minor but annoying scratches. Another was a car that had gone through a car wash that went awry, using mostly plastic items that left markings everywhere.  One final strange case was a car door that had swiped a pole in an apartment complex, leaving white paint over surface level scratching that covered the entire passenger door. With some claybar, buffing and polishing, and a bit of elbow grease, the only sign the door had any problems was a dent made significantly less noticeable!  

After reviewing the most popular detailing services this summer, its sad to say but summer may be coming to a close, but our shop certainly is not.  If you would like to have service done we are open year round, and we would love to see what kinds of services we do the most this Fall and Winter.  We hope to hear from you through our Request Form or phone number, 801-412-9274, and enjoy your remaining summer break!

by Miranda Hughes, Onsite Detail

Benefits of a Deep Odor Removal Service

What is a Deep Odor Removal Service? Well, have you ever gotten inside of a vehicle that stunk really bad? Spoiler alert: EVERYONE has been inside a car that stinks! If you don’t think you have ever been in a stinky vehicle, there’s a very good possibility that your vehicle is the smelly one… just saying!

The most common vehicle odors we deal with are;

  • wet dog smell
  • pet potty oopsies
  • body odor
  • spoiled food
  • spilled drinks (especially stinky are the dairy based beverages)
  • rotting fruit and/or veggies
  • mold and mildew
  • musty stench
  • kid stink (unidentified combinations of spills and crumbs)
  • the granddaddy odor of them all…cigarette/cigar smoke odor

If I’ve missed any, just fill in the blank. Check out our previous blog on the Do’s and Don’ts of Proper Odor Removal from Your Vehicle.

Benefits of a Deep Odor Removal Service

There are many benefits to having a deep odor removal service done on your vehicle. Especially if you’re getting ready to sell your current vehicle or just bought a new (to you) one. It is wise to get an interior detail with deep odor removal before selling and after buying. One thing I’ve heard many customers say when they just bought a used vehicle is that the vehicle is clean but they still wanted to get it detailed. I have heard more than once that people wanted the dirty to be “their dirty”. Even if the car was mostly clean when they got it but maybe had an odor that wasn’t “their odor”. Which sounds weird at first but thinking about it for a few seconds makes a lot of sense. Having a deep odor removal service will not only remove deep odors but in many cases will have a good detail done on it before the deep odor removal process. While you are looking for deep odor removal services, be sure to choose a service that has a detail with the deep odor removal. A good detail will be a big part of the odor removing process. A proper detail will be able to penetrate many surfaces and materials and will also prep the surfaces for the deep odor removal treatment.

You may be wondering at this point, “what is done to do a deep odor removal service?”. In many cases a good deep clean and thorough detail will remove many odors. But, as I mentioned before, there are smells and odors that a deep clean will not remove. The deep stench of tobacco will take much more strategic combating than just a detail.

Chlorine Dioxide Odor Removal

One method of a deep odor removal involves a little chlorine tablet that is in a little canister. After some water is added the chlorine tablet dissolves and releases an odor eliminating gas that spreads to the entirety of the vehicle to all the cracks and crevasses. The process for this will usually take a few hours and it is usually wise to leave it overnight to let the odor eliminating happen. Upon checking on it the next morning, you will notice right away that your car may smell like a swimming pool. Know that this is normal and that you will want to open all the doors to let it air out for 30 minutes or so. The chlorine smell will continue to fade quickly but when all is said and done, you will have a more fresh smelling vehicle. The cautions with this deep odor removal method are that the gasses created that kill odor causing bacteria, etc can also cause potential problems to people if the proper PPE and steps are not taken. Also the water level is too low in the canister the reaction of the tablets can cause “splashing” to occur and it has the potential to bleach. These reasons are enough alone to always follow the instructions exactly as the manufacturer has written them.

Ozone Machine Odor Removal

Another method of a deep odor removal is an ozone machine. Basically the way an ozone machine works is that it charges the air that passes through it with an electrical current which then separates the oxygen molecules in the air. The odor eliminating will happen when those oxygen molecules that have odors attached to them go through the ozone process. With those molecules being separated those odors will not be able to survive the ozone process. If those odor molecules that have been separated continue to go through the machine then they will continue to be separated and the odors will continue to be eliminated. You will want to be cautious using an ozone machine. The “air” that is created by the ozone machine is not safe to breathe. It can cause slight chest pain, lung irritation, shortness of breath and coughing. It can be especially dangerous for someone who has any lung diseases such as asthma. But going back to the positives of ozone machine. It can kill living mold spores that create mold and mildew. It can also kill airborne viruses. It will also do an exceptional job with cigarette smoke. Anywhere that air can penetrate can be areas that the ozone machine will help with. 

Between the full interior detail with a deep odor removal service, you will be able to eliminate the odors that you are trying to get rid of.

Penetration is an important aspect to consider when looking at the different methods and how each of them work. I have experience with both methods and they are both effective and work very well.

Replace the Filter

One important thing to remember when dealing with eliminating odors, especially cigarette smoke is that you will want to get the cabin filter to your vehicle replaced as soon as possible. Stay seated and I will explain. Overtime, as the air is circulated through the air vents and as the smoker smokes inside that vehicle, the smoke odor particles will be pulled into the air vents and get pulled through the cabin filter. The smoke odor will absorb itself into the filter. So after the smoker has moved on from that part of life or has sold the vehicle to someone who does not smoke. The odor will remain. Even with the best detail in the world and all the odor eliminating methods you could think of. That odor will live on the filter. As soon as the AC gets turned on on that hot summer day. You will end up with a full cavalry charge of smoke smell coming out of those vents and recycling it’s way back into the areas of your vehicle that you just spent so much money and time getting the smell of cigarette smoke out of.

Hopefully you have learned more about odor eliminating. Regular details will help keep up with odor control and believe it or not, will help with keeping the value of your car high. Your vehicle will also run better. Don’t ask. It’s science. I don’t know how that works but it’s fact! Don’t look it up..it’s true! If you have any questions or would like to schedule a detail service, request one here, or give us a call, text, or email.  Safe Travels and until next time!


by Andy Stallings, CD, Operations Manager, Onsite Detail

Interior Boat Detailing

Boat detailing is one of those tasks that makes many people wonder… “Why did I buy this boat?” Proper care and detailing your boat is not for the faint of heart. Caring for boats is no small task. They take so much abuse while they are sacrificing themselves for our entertainment and pleasure.

The interior of a boat does take quite the beating. It gets climbed all over, it gets sand in all the cracks and crevices. Its gets scuffs and scratches from loading and unloading water skis, wakeboards, rope, fishing equipment, etc. Food and drinks are spilled and the worst part is that wet life jackets, towels and other things can get left in the storage areas and start to grow mold and mildew. Boat interiors spend  a lot of time exposed to the sun as well.

Keep in mind there are many different types of boats and situations for different steps to be taken in the process of a boat interior detail. Different types of boats are used for different purposes and have different types of interior materials. There can be different types of messes to clean up. For the purposes of this blog we’ll discuss the most common type of boats we detail. The average speed boat.

Avoiding Problems with Boat Interiors

Moldy Boat Interior

There are a few things that can be done to avoid problems with the interior of your boat. After a day out on the lake or a day out fishing it is super important to clean out the garbage, food and anything wet that is not attached to the boat. Let that wet stuff dry outside the boat and leave any compartments or storage areas open to dry as well. 

One of the biggest and most important things that your boat needs is interior boat detailing. This consists of proper cleaning and protecting of the interior parts and surfaces. If proper prevention steps are taken the regular detailing will be a lot easier and less time consuming.

Interior Boat Detail Prep

Before any actual detailing can take place we’ll need to determine the level of detailing that is needed. I’ll go through some of the basic steps we take as we detail the boat’s interior. We’ll assume that the boat is in average condition but we may discuss some other situations as we move through the boat. 

Proceed with the Interior Boat Detail

Boat interior detailed.

Boat interior detailed.

First and foremost we need to clear out the boat. We remove anything that may get in the way of the actual cleaning and detailing. Obvious things such as garbage and equipment go first. But other things such as built in coolers, seat covers, snap on carpets or other boat interior accessories will be removed as well and cleaned separately.

As with vehicle interiors, boat interiors can and will collect dirt, sand and debris. Not to mention food crumbs and other small bits of garbage from wrapping or packaging. I prefer to start with the vacuuming process. Removing all the loose dirt and debris allows for the rest of the surfaces to be deep cleaned and protected. While vacuuming we go into the storage areas, cup holders and all the pockets and drawers. Depending on the severity or the dirtiness we can also bring out the steamer to work in tandem with the vacuum to help loosen up and blow out stuck on dirt and sticky stuff. After the first vacuum is complete we analyze the rest of the interior surfaces. Any extra dirty or soiled areas we can hit with an all purpose cleaner and the steamer. At this point we would address cleaning up any mold or mildew if found.

All the cracks, crevasses and seams are cleaned out thoroughly. The vinyl surfaces are then steamed cleaned and gently scrubbed as needed to get completely clean. Next step is to get the carpets cleaned. Depending on boat carpet type and how dirty it is we can use steam only with carpet scrubbing attachments, steam extraction or hot water extraction. We pretreat stains and soiled areas with a carpet cleaning chemical and then let it dwell before agitating it. After agitating we add a second chemical that works to help lift and remove soil and stains. We then hit the carpet with our method of choice to fully remove the dirt. Keep in mind at this point most boat carpets are pulled out and separate from the boat so they can dry while the rest is finished.

Boat Utah Onsite Detail

Boat Utah Onsite Detail

Next we are going to do a full wipe down and cleaning of all interior surfaces. We generally will use an all purpose cleaner of very mild quick detailer to wipe everything down in prep for any potential polishing or protection that is needed. At this point you can also clean the windows and make sure there are no hard water spots that need to be removed.

Now it’s time to dress and condition the interior boat plastics and vinyls. This is especially important for the vinyl boat seats as they can easily take the brunt of the beating from use and the hot sun. Without proper cleaning and conditioning they can dry out and crack. The conditioner will help protect and prevent these damages.

This is also a good time to protect the gel coat surfaces that extend on top from the exterior of the boat. If the exterior of the boat has yet to be touched it is probably a good idea to wait until it is done to polish and protect it all at once.

Double Check Everything

Last step is just to double check everything and make sure there is no touch up needed.

Now that you know a little bit more about what we can do for your boat’s interior and what we’d recommend to help you keep your boat interior detailed and protected feel free to contact us to have us put your boat detail on the schedule. Call, text or email us. (801) 412-9274 clean@onsitedetail.net

by Chris Blaisdell, CD-SV, Onsite Detail

Chris Blaisdell is the owner of Onsite Detail and has been detailing  for 12 + years.
He is a Certified Detailer-Skills Validated detailer through the
International Detailing Association. The industry leader in detailing standards.