Can You Use Household Glass Cleaners on Your Car?

I’m sure many of us have wondered over the years, “Why can’t I use my Windex on the windows in my car?” Killing two birds with one stone, and saving some money from buying two of the “same” product. Nick writes in:

Hello there. I’d like to know if there is any difference to household glass cleaners and car detailing ones. Do household cleaners damage regular car glass? Do they contain abrasives and other harmful ingredients? Do they damage trim and rubber around the windows? Thank you so much for your time. I know these are a lot of questions, but I want to know if I have to invest in specialty glass cleaner or not. Thank you in advance. Best Regards, Nick Tzovlas

Hi Nick!

The short answer is, “Yes, you should!” Not because I’m a salesman, either! After some thorough research, I’ve come to two very distinct differences in household glass cleaners and car-specific glass cleaners:

Ammonia in Household Glass Cleaners

Most household glass cleaners contain ammonia in them. What does this mean for cars? Well, if your car has tinted windows, then the ammonia over time will break down the tint, causing it to peel. There have also been reports of excess fogging on the interior of windows from using ammonia-based window cleaners.

Streaking Issues

The amount of streaking from Windex type cleaners is quite a lot in my personal experiences. One of the worst things to look at after spending so long detailing a car is to drive away with streaks in the windshield.

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So then, what’s the best cleaner?

Well, there is no “best.” Some people prefer one over others, and it’s always based on personal opinion. For me, I personally love Meguiar’s Glass Cleaner. You dilute it 10:1, which means 128 oz gives you 1408 oz (11 gallons)! This glass cleaner will last you a lifetime. And at $20 for a whole gallon, it’s value that can’t be beaten. If you pair this with two Detailed Image Glass Polishing towels, your glass will be clean and streak-free.

Why two towels? What I do is take one towel, fold it in half twice (creating a square), and spray the glass cleaner directly on the towel (to prevent overspray). Then, I clean one window at a time (or half a windshield). After that, using the second dry towel, I buff the glass to make sure any last bit of minor streaking is removed. This is a sure-fire way to clean streak-free glass.

And, while you can’t use household cleaners on cars, there doesn’t seem to be any reason you can’t use less-harmful car glass cleaners in the house, extending your dollar even further!

Nick, and others who have been wondering, I hope this has answered your question!

Please add any comments or questions below. Thanks!


  1. Can I use household glass cleaners on my car?
    No, most household glass cleaners contain ammonia, which can damage tinted windows and cause fogging on the interior of car windows.

  2. What’s the best car glass cleaner?
    The best car glass cleaner is subjective and based on personal opinion. However, Meguiar’s Glass Cleaner is a popular choice due to its dilution ratio, long-lasting value, and streak-free results.

  3. How should I clean my car windows to avoid streaking?
    To clean your car windows without streaking, spray the glass cleaner directly onto a towel instead of the window, clean one window at a time, and use a second dry towel to buff the glass.

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When it comes to cleaning your car windows, it’s best to use a car-specific glass cleaner instead of household glass cleaners. Household cleaners often contain ammonia, which can damage tinted windows and cause fogging. Additionally, household glass cleaners tend to streak more than car-specific cleaners. Meguiar’s Glass Cleaner is a popular choice among car enthusiasts due to its great value and streak-free formula. By using the right products and techniques, you can achieve clean and streak-free glass in your car. Remember, it’s always important to prioritize the care and maintenance of your vehicle to keep it looking its best.