How to Clean Car Windows
Cleaning the windows in your car without streaks!

best auto detailing tips

How to clean car windows without streaking remains a mystery to most people. Most people find themselves chasing their tales in search of the perfect window cleaner that will finally give them streak free windows in their car. Clean windows with out streaks and smudges is one of the top complaints when it comes to car washing and auto detailing. Ask any professional and they will tell you how frustrating and time consuming it is just to deliver a finished product with windows that are spotless and streak free. I have spent almost as much time perfecting my car window cleaning methods as I have with paint polishing and waxing techniques. The good news is that with my years of experience, I have brought you to a point where I promise a light at the end of the tunnel as you too can have streak free car windows with my professional tips.

Cleaning Car Windows: so many myths, so many bad opinions!

I have an opinion...and that is that most opinions should be thrown out the window. When it comes to cleaning the windows in your car there is an endless sea of opinions as to the perfect window cleaner, or the best window cleaning method. The good news is that when it comes to streak free and smudge free windows in your car, it is more about technique than it is about finding "the best" window cleaner.

The Inside and the Outside

The windows of your car represent to specific sides; the in and the out. While the steps could be identical, the reality is that they represent different sets of problems and thus require specific strategies for truly streak free and smudge free clean car windows.

Outside Window Problems:

  • Exposed to the weather and elements.
  • Excessive dirt, water spots, fall-out.

Inside Window Problems:

  • Film build-up from out-gassing interior parts such as plastics, rubber, vinyl, etc.
  • Window tint film.

Does the Best Window Cleaner Really Exist?

Just like every other area of life; not all things are created equal. And while I said that the biggest tip for successfully cleaning the windows in your car is technique, rather than finding the perfect window cleaner, this part of the equation shouldn't be overlooked. I recommend a product once again, by Meguiar's.

Meguiars D120 Glass Cleaner 1 Gallon

Meguiars D120 Glass Cleaner  1 Gallon
  • Extremely effective
  • Extremely economical
  • Mix as per directions
  • I use distilled water for that extra step of precision formulation for truly streak free windows

Darren's Tip: I use distilled water for purity reasons. Distilled water is free from all contaminates and minerals and makes for a more refined or pure window cleaner. When it comes to product concenttrates, as a rule, I always use distilled water when mixing. This would be the equivelent of having soft water in your house and the fact that you can use much less soap and detergents when compared to hard water.

Tools for Streak-Free Car Windows

It might seem strange to refer to specialized window cloths as tools, but in fact that is exactly what they are. And having the right tools is critical to getting perfectly clean car windows with no streaks and no smudges. These huck towels are the perfect window cleaning cloths for numerous reasons:

  • 100% cotton; very absorbent
  • Virtually lint free
  • Can be washed with traditional methods;easy care
  • The perfect size to fold based on personal preference
  • A must have for streak free windows

Additional Tools of Success

Use the additional tools below based on my professional tips to take your car window cleaning to the next level.

Magic Eraser

  • Use on the inside of the windows first when heavy build up of haze and film is present
  • Use either with window cleaner or using a mixture of 50% rubbing alcohol (any variations of rubbing alcohol is fine; 70% or 90% are common) and 50% distilled water
  • Refer to my video for exact steps and procedures.

Clay Magic Detailing Clay

  • The original and the best in many opinions
  • You should have one on hand regardless for use on your car paint; might as well have one for use on your outside windows also
  • Use to remove any airborne contaminates stuck to your car windows to create that ultra smooth glass prior to cleaning and as part of ongoing maintenance
  • Will only have to be used occasionally whenever you feel any texture to your car windows

Tips for Smudge Free and Streak Free Windows

Inside of Your Car Windows: For the inside, use the following steps to obtain truly streak free windows without that greasy look that can become so frustrating when viewing at certain angles and lighting.

  • Clean inside of all windows first with mixture of rubbing alcohol/distilled water using Miracle Eraser pads. Simply spray mixture directly onto window and wipe/scrub vigorously with eraser pad.
  • Follow up by wiping with dampened micro-fiber towel to remove any rubbing alcohol/distilled water solution. Micro-fiber cloth only needs to be damp with regular water.
  • Last step is to spritz window with Meguiar's window cleaner and wipe entire glass area with first side of huck towel, then flip towel over for dry side and buff to perfection!

Outside of Your Car Windows: For the outside, it is recommended that you use detailing clay to remove any contaminates from your windows that would diminish your end results. Use the Clay Magic detailing clay just as you would on your car paint.

Special Instructions and Tips for Smudge-free and Streak-free Car Windows

Tinted Windows: There is this perpetual fear put into all of us regarding tinted windows. And by tinted, I mean the after-market window film that is applied to stock windows that make them darker and protect against UV rays. The good news is that cleaning tinted car windows are actually easier to clean and maintain! Due to the fact that the haze build-up normally found on the inside of car windows is not as visible with tinted windows, the extra steps necessary to remove the common hazy build-up on the inside of your windows will not be as important to most people with tinted windows.

With that said, you can still use the same additional steps of the Magic Eraser and rubbing alcohol/distilled water mixture to remove excessive haze build-up if required. Just be a little more gentle with the Magic Eraser as if you rub hard enough and long enough, it will eventually mar the window film. If you are overly worried, simply use a micro-fiber cloth along with the rubbing alcohol/distilled water mixture in place of the Magic Eraser to remove the excessive haze build-up from the inside of your car windows.

Window Rubber: Whether we are talking about the inside or outside of your car windows, there will always be some form of weather stripping or window rubber gasket material along side the windows that will hold your car windows in place. This will be a case by case problem as each car manufacturer along with differing materials used year to year. What happens is that as you are cleaning your windows, you can rub your window cloth along these rubber window gaskets and then transfer this rubberized materiel onto your car windows as you clean them. Knowing how to clean car windows also means knowing what not to do.

This can both be a problem on the outside of the window as well as the outside. Different car manufacturers use not only different materials between manufacturers, but also different materials that are different on the inside than that of the outside. This problem can be compounded during hot summer months as rubberized window gaskets will become softened, and transfer of this material from your window cleaning cloth onto your clean car window can become more problematic.

Window Rubber Gasket Sealants: Another common problem in getting clean car windows is due to the sealants used when assemblying car windows into your car. Both on the inside and out, the sealant underneath the rubberized gasket will begin to seep out as the car ages and is exposed to hotter temperatures. Once you tag this gooey, sticky adhesive/sealant, you will have to switch window cleaning cloths as you will end up streaking your car windows with adhesive; it becomes a nightmare very quickly!

Pay "Clean Car Windows" Forward!

Thank you for visiting Clean Car Windows. I bet you know of at least one other person who is also frustrated with their car windows and would love to know how to clean car windows themselves. Whether this be friend, family, car forum, or car club,  please help me spread the word by posting this to your Face Book, Twitter, or forum account! Or just send them the link and pay it forward in that manner. I have made it super easy to spread the word with my “Socialize It” button box at the very bottom of this page.

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