The windows of your car take a beating from dirt, bugs, bird droppings and other debris. But with a few simple techniques and a little know-how, you can make even the dirtiest windows sparkle. Here’s a list of helpful glass cleaning tips to get your windows brilliantly clean – and without leaving behind streaks, scratches, residue or lint.
1. The first step is to choose an auto glass cleaner. Make sure your glass cleaner does NOT contain ammonia, alcohol or any ingredient that could produce toxic fumes. Beyond the obvious health concerns of inhaling these fumes, consider the impact your automotive cleaning products have on the environment. There are car care products on the market that are 100% biodegradable, non-toxic and recyclable that have the same great cleaning power as traditional cleaning products.
2. Any product containing ammonia is a definite no-no when it comes to auto detailing. Ammonia and ammonia fumes cause plastic, rubber, vinyl and leather to dry out, and will damage any tint your windows may have. Do your homework and you won’t end up destroying your vehicle’s interior while you’re trying to clean it!
3. The type of towel you choose to clean your windows with can make all the difference. Choose a high-quality, glass cleaning microfiber towel of at least 300 GSM. Microfiber towels can hold up to eight times their weight in water, are lint-free and will not cause scratches. An electrostatic charge causes dirt and debris to be lifted up and away from the surface, rather than dragged across it. Old t-shirts, towels, socks and newspaper are not the best choice when cleaning your car’s glass, and will likely cause scratches, streaks and missed spots.
4. If you are cleaning the entire interior of your car, save your windows and rear-view mirror for last to avoid getting stray spray from other cleaning products on your freshly cleaned glass. You can also avoid stray spray by spraying your window cleaner (and other applicable interior auto detailing products) onto the microfiber towel – not directly on the surface.
5. Another factor to keep in mind is the motion you buff with your microfiber towel. While a circular motion may appear to be actively buffing away any streaks from your windows, a straight back-and-forth and then up-and-down motion will ensure that the entire surface has been cleaned and wiped down thoroughly.
6. Remember when cleaning your windows or mirrors to use one towel (or one side of a towel) to wipe the surface clean, and a second to buff the surface to a residue-free shine. Not only do you need two clean towel surfaces per swipe, but per window. The last thing you want to do is spread the dirt and dead bugs that you wiped off of your windshield onto the next window you clean. Make sure you have enough clean towels to avoid contaminating one window with the last one’s mess.
7. Avoid cleaning your vehicle’s windows in direct sunlight or very hot conditions, if possible. This is especially important if you are using a window cleaner containing harsh chemicals. When the liquid evaporates, the fumes left behind could easily be inhaled, posing a serious health risk. Even with non-toxic window cleaners, evaporation can also mean a spotty residue before your towel even hits the glass.
8. The easiest place to overlook when cleaning your vehicle’s windows is the small edging area at the top of the window. Often, this area is especially dirty from build up in the rubber lip. Be sure you roll each window down several inches to clean this area on both the interior and exterior of the glass.
9. Ever get a build up on the edges of your windshield wipers that causes blurry areas on your windshield? Wipe down your blades with a damp cloth and a bit of white vinegar. The vinegar will remove the debris that’s stuck on the blades and allow them to make full contact with the windshield again. If after a wipe down, your windshield wipers haven’t improved any, you may be due for a new pair. And don’t forget to clean out your wiper cowl once in a while! The wiper cowl is the area at the base of the windshield where your wipers lay when not in use. Keeping this area free of grime will greatly reduce the amount of debris on your wipers.