Owning a car means that you must also keep it clean, especially the car windows. Improper cleaning of windows often leaves streaks that can affect your visibility while driving. Even so, leaving it alone and not cleaning can also be a safety hazard and impair vision on the road. So, how does one properly clean a window?
Fortunately, below are some good tips to clean windows without leaving streaks.
Why Do Car Windows Get Dirty?
There are many factors why car windows get dirty both inside and out, such as dirt and dust, smog and smoke, and the weather. Even fingerprints or doggie noses can get your window dirty.
But one primary reason is the off-gassing that occurs within the vehicle, where various plastic and vinyl interior components eventually break down, causing the oily film on the interior side of the window. It then results to streaking and increased glaring at night.
What Is the Best Way to Clean Car Windows?
Before starting on cleaning the glass windows, it is necessary to first wash and clean the car both inside and outside so that no dust or debris will be on the windows once you clean them. In cleaning car windows, using only a wet piece of cloth will not work.
Using a microfiber cloth in wiping the glass will produce the best results. When applying the cleaning chemicals, you can directly spray onto the windshield and wipe using the microfiber cloth in a circular, horizontal, and vertical motion, working top to bottom.
How To Clean Car Windows Without Streaks?
Why do streaks appear on windows? One reason is washing the car windows under the sun. When you clean car windows in direct sunlight or in high temperatures, the car windows becomes too hot and cleaning agents dry up faster before you can wipe it off.
It thus leaves a residue behind that looks like window streaks. Make sure to clean the windows under the shade to prevent this.
What You’ll need:
- Automotive Cleaning Agent. – Avoid cleaning agents that contain ammonia because ammonia can damage vinyl, leather, rubber, and tinted windows.
- Bucket. – If you are using a concentrated cleaner, a bucket can help.
- Micro-fiber Cloth. – Any basic micro-fiber cloth can do, but a high-quality, micro-fiber cloth of at least 300 GSM will produce better results.
- Distilled Water. – If using concentrated cleaner; distilled water is more preferred than regular tap water due to its purity.
- Isopropyl Alcohol.
- White Vinegar. – While white vinegar can be used in cleaning solutions, diluted white vinegar can also remove hard water buildup.
- Spray Bottle.
The Cleaning Solution Recipe
There are two proportions recommended for making a cleaning solution.
- Take 50% distilled water, 50% alcohol and a cupful of white vinegar.
- Take 70 % distilled water, 15% alcohol, and 15% cleaning agent.
Pour the ingredients into an empty spray bottle and shake to mix well.
Cleaning the Outside of the Windows
The car windshield has two sides – interior and exterior. Cleaning them may be identical in steps. However, both sides have specific issues such as build-up layers of film. Hence, there must be different cleaning strategies and approaches while cleaning the different sides of the windows.
What to Do
- Prepare the cleaning solution. Pull the car into the shade before cleaning.
- Spray the cleaning solution on the front and rear windows first. Because of size and angle, these can be the hardest to clean well.
- Rub and wipe dry the front windshield and rear window clean. Wipe in different directions to make it easier to see missed spots. Apply pressure if needed.
- Roll down the side windows to approximately one inch and clean the top of the glass.
- Spray the cleaning solution on the side windows.
- Rub and wipe dry the side windows using different directions and motions. Pay attention to the window corners and edges while cleaning.
What to Avoid
Do not rush the process of cleaning because you will most likely end up with poor, streaky results.
General Tips and Tricks
Use distilled water when diluting concentrated cleaners.
Glass cleaner wipes are not recommended for big surface areas on car windows, but you can use them in wiping windshields and side mirrors.
Test cleaning agents first in and out of sight area of your car if you are unsure.
If in a pinch, one can use clean cotton towels or newspapers. Using rags, even if washed, can cause your windows to end up with grease and oil from wax or other detailing compounds.
Cleaning the Inside of the Windows
The interior side of the windows in your car will be more difficult to clean than the exterior.
What to Do
- Using the same cleaning solution, spray on the microfiber cloth first before wiping the window from the top.
- Clean and wipe the inside of the windshield. Wipe in different motions and directions. Make sure not to miss any part of the window.
- Clean the rearview mirror carefully.
- Clean and wipe next the inside of the rear windows. Because this is difficult to reach, this should be done last.
- Wipe the window dry using another clean microfiber cloth.
- Repeat for the rest of the windows.
What to Avoid
Do not use concentrated cleaners in cleaning the interior side of the windows as it is easily scratches and will be destroyed by ammonia. Instead, use mild cleaners and water only.
General Tips and Tricks
Be sure to spray on the cloth first before wiping the interior side of the window. This will prevent overspray onto previously cleaned areas.
Cleaning the windshield is easier to do from the passenger’s seat because you are not obstructed by the steering wheel.
Use the backside of your hand to guide the microfiber to the corner for less strain.
Spotted Glass and Hard Water
Hard water contains excessive trace elements such as calcium, iron, and lime found in streams and rivers. They remain on the glass when water from sprinklers and washing air-dries. If left for a long time, these water spots etch the glass and will not wash off with regular glass cleaners or car shampoo.
In this case, dilute white vinegar with water and use on the spots. If the water spots are mild, use a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to water. Heavier spots may require more or pure vinegar.
Car windows, both interior and exterior, get dirty. To clean the windows, there must be different approaches. The cleaning tips found above will help improve the car’s appearance and improve visibility.
It is always advisable to take your time cleaning, as cleaning quickly may cause your windows to be in a worse state than before you cleaned them. Always clean them once they get dirty with the right techniques and methods.