August 7, 2011

Cleaning Car Windows

If you're like me, you probably don't clean glass very often. Clean glass in your car can save your life, though, so break out the glass cleaner and paper towels and let's do some wiping.

The camera sees it worse than my eyes did. No camera tricks here. It was set to automatic the whole time. This window was apparently so hazy that it made my camera think it was dusk at 10 AM. The glass definitely needed cleaning, but it certainly wasn't the worst I'd seen.

First, spray your window down with window cleaner. Go ahead and wet the whole surface, but don't soak it. More than a light spray is just going to make a mess on surrounding surfaces. It doesn't matter what kind of cleaner you use unless you have tinted windows. They'll all streak if you don't use them well, and none of them will streak if you do. If you have tint, be sure to use an ammonia-free window cleaner, unless you want your windows to turn purple.

I tried to take more pictures in here, but apparently my camera went on strike. Wipe the window down once with a paper towel. Be sure to wipe everything that you want clean. If you're trying to do a really thorough job, you may want to roll the window down to get the top half-inch or so. You want the window cleaner to have a chance to work on every square millimeter of the glass. This wipe will also remove most of the cleaner. This is a good thing. If your windows are filthy like mine, your paper towel will come out looking like this:

Finally, grab a clean rag or paper towel and make another pass. You want to remove everything, so don't hesitate to rub vigorously. The streaks from the window cleaner should disappear as you wipe. It will probably take a few passes to get a section of the window clean. Once all the streaks are gone, it's clean.

Other tips: 

I wrote this after I had already done the windshield, which is the most important and most difficult piece of glass in any vehicle. You'll probably want to treat the windshield as two separate pieces of glass, and sit in the passenger's seat to clean that side. Otherwise, you'll bump your mirror a lot and end up cursing your lack of strategy. If you have an E-ZPass, remove it to clean around it, but leave the Velcro pads on.

The outside of the glass is just as important as the inside, but it usually gets cleaned pretty well by rain. I frequently give it a good wipe with a gas station squeegee if it starts to get too dirty (due to lack of rain, usually). I'm also a proponent of Rain-X, which is a product you apply to the outside glass on your car to make rain slide off. As a result, I typically only use my wipers when I'm not on the highway. Some like it, some don't. You can get it at Walmart or just about any auto parts store.

If you smoke, try to avoid doing it in your car. In addition to making your car more difficult to sell when the time comes, cigarette smoke causes a film to build up on any surface it touches, including your nice, clean glass. I clean my glass once every couple of years. If you smoke and maintain clean auto glass, you'll probably find yourself cleaning it once a month.

To maintain clean glass, avoid touching it. No matter how clean you are, you're still greasy and dirty compared to clean glass. If you drive around with children or pets in your car, they're probably going to touch it and make you clean it more often anyway. Of course, smudges on back windows are more tolerable than the front ones.

Good luck, and enjoy your clean windows.


  1. Its was a good tip1thanks for this wonderful article.please keep me posted..regards.

  2. Thanks for these useful tips. I just bought a car courtesy of advantage toyota, and I will make sure to use these tips in cleaning the car's windows.