Glass Cleaning Facts & Tips

Clean automotive glass is possible with the right products and techniques! Clean glass not only looks better, it helps you drive better. We’ll tell you how to clean glass, even finicky automotive glass, with clear results. Clean, clear glass looks beautiful next to clean, waxed paint, and it improves your visibility while driving. Just a few extra minutes detailing your windows will add a sparkling touch to your vehicle’s finish and just might save your life!

The Facts About Glass Cleaners

Many glass cleaners contain ammonia, which is a great grease cutter but has some significant disadvantages when it comes to cars.

  • Ammonia can release dangerous fumes that should not be inhaled, especially in enclosed areas like the inside of your vehicle.
  • Chemically, ammonia acts to dry out plastic, rubber, vinyl, and leather.
  • Most significantly, in sunnier climates, car owners often customize with additional non-factory tinting. Ammonia based cleaners cannot be used on tinted windows. If your current cleaner does not state “ammonia-free” or “safe for tinted windows,” you should find another cleaner.

NOTE: AVOID HOUSEHOLD GLASS CLEANERS, which almost all contain ammonia. A few examples of tint-safe glass cleaners are; Stoner Invisible Glass, BLACKFIRE Glass Cleaner, Wolfgang Perfekt Vision Glass Cleaner, and Mothers ReVision Glass + Surface Cleaner.

Some people prefer to use plain water to clean their windows. While this is a very safe method, water is not enough of a solvent to cut the protein base of stubborn spots, like bug remains. However, a glass-cleaning microfiber towel, like the Waffle Weave Microfiber Glass Towel, will provide a gentle scrubbing action to help remove contamination. Dampen this towel lightly and clean the glass. Then, flip the towel to a dry side and buff to remove every last streak.

High quality microfiber is micro-engineered to eliminate lint and is extraordinarily absorbent to prevent streaking. One hand tool that’s well worth a try is Stoner Invisible Glass Reach & Clean Tool. This long-armed glass scrubber can help you clean your SUV windshield and those hard-to-reach areas at the top of the cab windows or your sunroof.

Clean By Numbers

  1. Detail your vehicle. Glass should be the last thing you do to avoid re-contaminating it during the detailing process.
  2. Work out of the sun on dry windows. The sun can cause glass cleaner to evaporate too quickly and leave residues.
  3. Spend some extra time on your windshield because you look through it more than the rest of the windows. Lightly dampen your microfiber towel with your cleaner of choice. We highly recommend BLACKFIRE Glass Cleaner for its non-streaking, film-zapping performance. Wipe up and down and then side to side using long strokes. Flip the towel to a dry side to remove any remaining wetness from the windshield. Do the same on the back window.
  4. Be sure to roll down your windows about halfway so you can clean the top edges of the glass.
  5. Whether you clean all of your inside or outside glass first, or if you favor the window-by-window approach, that is your preference.
  6. You can’t always get it right the first time. It may take a mist of glass cleaner to remove stubborn film and then another cleaning with plain water to remove any streaks created by the film. It all depends on exactly what is on your glass. Don’t be afraid to use more than one cleaner on the same window if that’s what it takes. Detailer Pro Tip: When you clean the inside of the back window, it may be helpful to use the backside of your hand to hold the towel against the lower edge of the glass. This technique will allow you to reach the bottom of the glass with greater ease. This is the perfect application of the Stoner Invisible Glass Reach & Clean Tool or the Glass Master Pro Glass and Surface Cleaner. These tools can easily reach any spot on your windows and wipe it away!
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Water Spot Eliminators

Wolfgang Perfekt Vision Glass Polish removes water spots

Water spots are mineral deposits that have etched their way into the paint and they can be very tough to remove. When a drop of water evaporates, all the minerals contained in that water remain on the paint. Etching is a gradual process, but those little spots will accumulate before you know it. The best way to avoid them is to dry your vehicle each and every time it gets wet. If that sounds too ambitious, at least dry it after washing and after a rain. If it’s already too late, here are some tips for removing those cloudy spots.

Glass can take a polish just like paint. A quality glass polish like Wolfgang Perfekt Vision Glass Polish will remove water spots and cloudiness to restore perfect clarity to your windows. You can apply it by hand or with a polisher, but set your machine on a low speed (1000-1200 RPM on a rotary or 5-6 on a dual action) and use a polishing pad. Do not apply pressure; the pad will do the work for you. When the polish starts to dry, stop polishing and buff the residue away with a microfiber towel.

Pinnacle GlassCoat Window Sealant with Rain Repellent will keep your glass clean and provide some protection against future water spots. It seals the glass and causes water to bead. Think of it as a wax for your glass. It improves the performance of wipers and provides a huge improvement in visibility when it rains.

Once applied, Pinnacle GlassCoat Window Sealant with Rain Repellent repels water like no other. The surface tension created by this coating beads and repels water more effectively than you thought possible. Even in the most torrential rainstorms, the water beads up and flies off so effortlessly you may not need to use the wipers!

Every time you use your windshield wipers, any dirt accumulated on the wiper blades and windshield is subsequently dragged across the windshield. This causes abrasive friction that will, over time, decrease the effectiveness of any glass coating. The simple solution to this problem is to re-apply Pinnacle GlassCoat Window Sealant with Rain Repellent on a regular basis. Those who frequently travel or live in areas where it rains regularly should apply Pinnacle GlassCoat Window Sealant with Rain Repellent monthly. Those who drive less frequently or live in drier climates should apply Pinnacle GlassCoat Window Sealant with Rain Repellent every 3-6 months.

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Smoker’s Film

Smoker’s Film is an oily film that builds up on the inside of a car’s windows when someone smokes while inside the vehicle. Not only does this make the glass dirty and hard to clean, but it will also impair your vision, especially when there is direct sunlight hitting the glass. Headlight glare from oncoming traffic at night is another time when dirty glass can be hazardous to your health.

Standard glass cleaners lack the powerful cleaning ability necessary for removing this vicious contaminant. Rather than resorting to using Isopropyl Alcohol or heavy-duty cleaners, which have a very negative effect on the dashboard should there be contact, you need a cleaner that is both powerful enough for removing smoker’s film and gentle enough that it will not cause damage by overspray.

BLACKFIRE has developed a glass cleaner that has proven to be ultra-effective at removing smoker’s film from glass. BLACKFIRE Glass Cleaner is a powerful glass cleaner that will gently remove dirt, debris, smoker’s film, and other surface contamination from your glass, leaving only a crystal-clear finish behind.

As BLACKFIRE Glass Cleaner is ammonia-free, it is perfectly safe on tinted windows. BLACKFIRE Glass Cleaner is perfect for any glass surface, be it car windows, or your bathroom mirror, even sunglasses, each surface will be left with a completely clean and clear finish.

We’ve found that using the BLACKFIRE Glass Cleaner with the Glass Master Pro Glass and Surface Cleaner is perfect for removing that unsightly and dangerous smoker’s film. It’s as easy as spraying BLACKFIRE Glass Cleaner directly onto the microfiber bonnet provided with the Glass Master Tool, and gently rubbing away all surface contaminants.

Don’t Forget the Wipers!

Part of keeping your glass clean is keeping your wipers in working order. The rubber strip can dry out and crack so that it doesn’t hug the glass properly. Therefore, it’s inefficient at clearing water off the windshield. If you maintain your wipers, you won’t discover they’re dried out when you need them most, like in a rainstorm.

You will get more life out of each set of wiper blades if you regularly clean them with a high-quality, ammonia-free glass cleaner, like Pinnacle Crystal Clear Glass Cleaner with Water Repellent. Treated wipers will not skip or chatter, and they will remove water and surface debris more effectively. Check your wipers periodically to be sure they are working well and treat them immediately if they appear to be dried out.

Another way to keep your windshield clean is washer fluid additives. Typical washer fluids available at your local auto store are highly diluted and remove little more than dust. Most of these additives also leave a nasty haze on the windshield, reducing visibility. Several companies have formulated concentrated additives that give your regular washer fluid a much-needed boost. Pinnacle GlassWork Windshield Washer Booster is a great product. It doubles the cleaning power of regular windshield washer fluid while creating a much slicker washer fluid that is less prone to streaking and smearing.

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Its formula is highly concentrated, which means one 16-ounce bottle of concentrate treats 16 gallons of washer fluid. It is perfect for removing built-up road film, dirt, bugs, and grime to avoid creating a safety hazard in inclement weather conditions. It can be added both to antifreeze washer fluids, as well as plain water. Overspray will have no impact on paint or trim. Best of all, it resists streaking, smearing, and will not cause an unsightly haze.

Wurth Windshield Wash Additive serves the same purpose, but it has antifreeze protection already added to the formula. It will provide frost protection down to -22°F. This product is perfect for cold, snow-prone climates.

Remember, if you use washer additives and a glass sealant, your windows will be easy to clean each time you detail your vehicle. A little preventative maintenance will take the aggravation out of window cleaning.

Check out the featured products below with some available in money-saving kits and combos!

FAQs

  1. Are ammonia-based cleaners safe to use on tinted windows?
    No, ammonia-based cleaners should not be used on tinted windows as they can damage the tint. Look for ammonia-free glass cleaners that are safe for tinted windows.

  2. How often should I reapply glass sealant with rain repellent?
    Those who frequently travel or live in areas where it rains regularly should apply glass sealant with rain repellent monthly. Those who drive less frequently or live in drier climates should apply it every 3-6 months.

  3. Can I use regular washer fluid to clean my windshield?
    Typical washer fluids available at your local auto store are highly diluted and remove little more than dust. To effectively clean your windshield, you can use concentrated washer fluid additives that provide a boost in cleaning power and leave no streaks or haze on the glass.

  4. How can I remove smoker’s film from my car’s windows?
    Smoker’s film can be removed using a powerful glass cleaner specifically designed to remove tough contaminants like smoker’s film. Look for ammonia-free cleaners that are gentle on glass surfaces.

Conclusion

Clean and clear glass not only enhances the appearance of your vehicle but also improves visibility and safety while driving. By using the right cleaning products and techniques, you can easily achieve spotless, streak-free glass. Remember to avoid ammonia-based cleaners on tinted windows and regularly maintain your wipers for optimal performance. Additionally, consider using glass sealants and washer fluid additives to protect your glass and make future cleaning easier. With these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy crystal-clear windows that complement your vehicle’s overall look.