Newspaper to Clean Windows
The bad idea that never was a good idea

Using newspaper to clean windows was advice I grew up listening to from not just my mother, but the masses in general. Attempting this bad advice only proved extremely frustrating as well as delivering very poor results!

I think the concept of cleaning windows with newspaper can be in large part traced back to and blamed on Readers Digest. A magazine that condensed articles that often originated from a published book into a "bite-sized" article.

clean car windows

My mother, along with millions of other readers naturally embraced the shortened perspective on life that Readers Digest become iconic for. Using a newspaper to clean your windows with was only one example of a long list of bad ideas propagated by Readers Digest.

Hence the popular idiom of what we call "the Readers Digest Version". The problem is that when you follow shortened answers, you typically get short results. The real answers always lay within the deeper details.

Newspaper to Clean Windows
Car windows to house windows

best window cleaner

Windows are everywhere. The ability to see through a clean window is a refreshing and wanted moment. But rarely can windows be found to be streak free or smudge free.

The challenge to produce streak free windows is both real and significant. And there seems to be no shortage of people providing window cleaning tips that simply don't work, to window cleaning tips that actually make a bigger mess!

Whether you want clean windows in your house or clean windows in your car, there actually is a far better way to clean windows than using newspaper, that will not only provide superior results, but do so with far less aggravation.

How to Clean Car Windows
What Would Darren Do (WWDD)

Being a professional detailer for over 30 years has always provided endless challenges. From polishing black car paint to perfection, to removing pet hair from the car. But no challenge seem to persist like the challenge of cleaning windows.

I was forever trying the next best window cleaner and the next best window cleaning technique only to find myself rendered disappointed yet again!

Until I happened upon a product that wasn't an actual window cleaner, but a product that was developed for an entirely different use. I learned first hand from the formulator that the spray detailer he developed also had amazing secondary uses, and cleaning windows was one of them.

Cleaning Windows:
Steps to streak free and smudge free windows

  • Use the Q-7 Detailer as your initial window cleaner
  • Spray Q-7 Detailer onto window to be cleaned and wipe aggressively with clean micro-fiber cloth (Kirkland brand from below)
  • Use first side of cloth to scrub the window clean using the Q-7 Detailer
  • Flip same cloth over and remove any visible haze produced by the Q-7 Detailer
  • Switch to waffle weave window cleaning cloth and distilled water (distilled water is preferred, but not a requirement)
  • Spray distilled water onto freshly cleaned window, and proceed to wipe aggressively with waffle weave cloth
  • Flip waffle weave cloth over and buff window to perfection with dry side of waffle weave cloth

Darren's Tips: Unlike traditional glass cleaners and window cleaning techniques, this method will in fact require the use of (2) liquid products and (2) types of micro-fiber cloths.

Immediately this will likely seem like a poor alternative to traditional window cleaning steps that require only one cloth and one window cleaning product. Just know that this will not only produce the best results you have seen, but does not have to be repeated every time you clean your windows moving forward.

This technique will not only do the heavy lifting to restore your windows to a streak free and smudge free view, but lay the foundation moving forward. Think of this as the "repair" process, and then moving forward you can default to the "maintenance" process.

And like everywhere else in life; maintenance is always easier than the repair.

To maintain your windows moving forward requires less of everything. Simply use the waffle weave micro-fiber cloth and distilled water as your window cleaner. Unless your windows have become excessively dirty with grease smudges or haze, you will be able to maintain them with just the distilled water and waffle weave cloth.

Darren's Secret Window Cleaner

CSI Q-7 Detailer Quart 62-205-Q

  • My secret a window cleaner that isn't
  • Use this in place of your dedicated window cleaner
  • Follow my technique below

Window Cleaning Cloths

Kirkland Signature Ultra High Pile Premium Microfiber Towels, 36 Count (Pack of 1), Yellow - 713160

  • My "go-to" micro fiber cloths for 80% of detailing tasks
  • Way better than using newspaper to clean windows
  • Use as the initial window cleaning cloth and the Q-7 Detailer to remove all grime, grease, smudges, and haze

Darren's Tips: I fold these cloths twice to make a nice, padded and perfectly sized "tool" in the form of a micro fiber. One side is used to apply whatever product I am using initially ( I call this my wet-side or dirty side), then I use the other side as my final wipe (by final in this context, I am referring to using the Q-7 Detailer as your actual window cleaner. I also refer to the second side as the dry-side or the clean side of the cloth).

I spray the window I am cleaning with th Q-7 and then rub vigorously in a uniform pattern so I am certain to clean all areas of the window. Once I feel confident I am done a thorough cleaning job, I then flip cloth over and remove any haze that has been left by the Q-7 Detailer.

You need to remember that as part of this stage in the over all process, you are simply pre-cleaning your car windows. You are not trying to achieve absolute perfection. Perfection will be realized in the next step.

[No Streak Freak] Microfiber Window and Mirror Waffle Towel (16"x16") White - 3 Pack

  • These are my "go-to" window cleaning cloths for the initial clean, as well as for what I call window cleaning maintenance
  • Far better than using newspaper to clean windows!
  • Use these cloths with distilled water as part of the last step
  • Spray window to be cleaned with distilled water, then use folded (I fold twice) side to clean window like you would with any other window cleaner, but now you are using distilled water on the windows you pre-cleaned with Q-7 Detailer, flip cloth over to buff to perfection!

Darren's Tips: Once again it is important to understand the purpose of the individual steps, the products used in these separate steps, along with the different cloths.

The Q-7 Detailer and the Kirkland micro-fiber cloths are used to pre-clean the window. Spray window and rub aggressively to break down the haze, grime, and smudges. Flip cloth over and wipe off any residue.

Now switch to the waffle weave cloth and distilled water and simply clean the window as you normally would. Spray window with distilled water, use waffle weave micro fiber cloth and wipe down window, flip cloth over and buff to perfection.

Regardless of which step of this process you are doing, make sure you are getting all corners and nuances of window for true perfection.

What Is The Best Window Cleaner

best window cleaner for cleaning car windows

I have told you what I think the best is, but the "best" of anything will ultimately come down to the capabilities of the window cleaner as well as the user experience.

Most window cleaners will work. The better question will be more about other factors you may not have considered:

  • What type of "dirt" are you trying to clean off 
  • What type of windows (car, house, mirrors, glass in general?)
  • What type of cloth are you using?
    Do you want to use a single product regardless of capabilities to keep your life ultra-simple, or are you willing to adopt my strategy and finally produce streak free and smudge free windows?
  • Are you trying to clean years of accumulated haze, greasy finger prints, pet saliva, etc.?

What Is The Best Cloth To Clean Windows

While many people think using newspaper to clean widows is a great method, I personally think it is a horrid idea. Not because you can't get newspapers to work to clean windows, but he user experience will prove anything but friendly when compared to a quality micro-fiber cloth.

Can You Really Use Newspaper To Clean Windows

newspaper to clean windows

Yes. But you could also use the slightly used handkerchief from your grandfather's pocket, but I don't recommend either. Using newspaper to clean windows is a really bad idea despite any compelling argument you have read about this method.

Yes, newspaper is very absorbent. Yes, newspaper is rough and acts like a polishing cloth, but all these attributes can be had with a quality micro-fiber cloth. And with the digital age we now live in; newspaper is becoming harder and harder to actually find.

Can You Clean Car Windows The Same As You Clean House Windows

Yes. And this holds true with any type of window cleaner you choose, just as it would work to use newspaper to clean windows. House windows are almost identical to car windows. The real challenge is cleaning glass in general.

This could be a mirror, a china cabinet, glass coffee table, etc. Cleaning glass in the form of windows is especially difficult since you can look through them.

But regardless of the glass cleaner and method you choose, you can in fact clean house windows using the same techniques as cleaning car windows.

What Is The Best Way To Clean Tinted Car Windows

This is where I would never recommend using newspaper to clean windows. But with that said; modern day window tint (after market window tint) is incredibly durable than ever before.

While using newspaper to clean tinted windows would have possibly scratched the window tint film in the past, it would be unlikely that using newspaper to clean windows that have after market tint on them would truly represent a problem.

I just don't recommend using newspaper for all the other reasons I have laid out in this page.

Is Vinegar Good For Cleaning Windows

Yes. But so is ammonia. So is a thousand other chemicals you could use to clean windows with. Whether you use vinegar or ammonia, you will need to create a window cleaning solution by mixing water with either of these chemicals.

You can use very little ammonia or vinegar to mix with water to create a very effective window cleaner. But if these home made window cleaners were so effective, you likely wouldn't be here in the first place. Just as you likely have questioned the effectiveness of using newspaper to clean windows with.

I am simply laying out the facts based on my decades f professional experience, as well as the exact method I use to clean windows streak free and smudge free.

Can You Clean The Inside Of Car Windows The Same As The Outside

Yes. But with that said, the outside of your car windows; or house windows collect different kinds of dirt.

Regardless of the type of window you are cleaning, and regardless of whether this be an interior or exterior window, you need to clean off what is referred to a any superficial dirt.

This superficial dirt will be much more of a problem for the outside windows where traditional dust and dirt collect. Clean this superficial dirt off in any manner you normally would before approaching the deep clean by using my techniques, or any other window cleaning techniques.

Will Vinegar Harm Windows

Neither vinegar or ammonia will harm windows. Both these chemicals have natural cleaning abilities for many types of surfaces. When it comes to homemade window cleaners, it seems that using newspapers to clean windows and using vinegar or ammonia is the default for many people; or at least from so-called experts trying to give window cleaning advice.

if you decide to use vinegar or ammonia to clean windows, you need to dilute either chemical with water. It takes very little ammonia or vinegar mixed with water to make an effective window cleaner.

Will Window Cleaners With Ammonia Damage Tinted Windows

No, but sometimes yes.

It all depends. If you have after-market window tint (this means you had a shop install a film on your stock windows, which is different than tinted windows that come with a slight tint to them from the factory) you do not have to worry about the ammonia based window cleaner damaging your window film.

I find it amazing that window tint shops keep telling people not to use ammonia based cleaners on the window tint. The window tint of today is far superior than the window tint used decades ago.

Not to be overly cynical, but I think shops keep telling people this simply to keep up with other tint shops who repeat this outdated info. It is also a way for the tint shop to add "specialness" to the moment and makes them sound more professional than they already should be.

But don't underestimate fear. Inject even the slightest amount of fear into the moment, and people will cling to that suggested fear forever!

If you have after-market window tint on your car and it is especially old and even beginning to crack and peel, I would not recommend using any ammonia or vinegar based window cleaners as a side note. This represents a unique situation.

Newspaper To Clean Windows:
Darren's Extra Tips

invisible glass reach and clean tool

I want to add some additional tips so you truly can produce professional grade results for all your window cleaning needs at home. My alternative to using newspaper to clean windows will work on virtually any glass surface and you will likely find more and more of these glass surfaces that require regular cleaning:

  • Car windows
  • House windows
  • Mirrors
  • Glass cabinets
  • Shower enclosures

Window Cleaning Tool

Invisible Glass 95161 Reach and Clean Tool (1-Piece) - Window Wand Glass Cleaning Tool for Windshields, Invisible Glass Cleaner for Auto Glass, Clean and Reach Tool for Hard-to-Reach Places

  • The exact tool I use to "leverage" my efforts
  • Take the pain out of your arms and shoulders
  • Add additional leverage when cleaning car windows that are excessively dirty
  • Perfect tool for cleaning front and rear car windows

Darren's Tips: I love this tool! being a rather fit individual, I would have never defaulted to thinking I would need a tool like this. But when it comes to cleaning the front and back windows of many cars, it is almost impossible to reach into the very tight areas of these specific car windows.

Not only does the tool have a uniquely shaped gripping pad for tight corners, but it allows you to clean windows from a greater distance when confined to tight area of your car, most notably the back seat.

  • Foam comfort grip handle (also allows for standard extension pole to be inserted into end of handle)
  • Foam cleaning pad grips cleaning cloth for no-slip use during cleaning
  • Cleaning pad conforms to curved glass (especially useful when cleaning car windows)
  • 18" handle allows extra leverage and reach when cleaning difficult car windows
  • Reach into tight angles and corners of windows

Newspaper To Clean Windows Summary

  • Any window that has not been cleaned in years will accumulate a thick layer of haze, it is generally unrealistic to think you will be able to clean away years of haze in a single window cleaning session
  • Excessively dirty windows will require more than one application of the window cleaning method I lay out on this page (simply repeat until you achieve desired results)
  • This method is perfect for any window, any glass surface you want to clean
  • Using both the Q-7 Detailer and the distilled water is only necessary as the initial cleaning and distilled water and waffle weave cloth can be used as maintenance cleaning moving forward
  • You can use both the Q-7 Detailer and distilled water method as frequently as you want (it's just not necessary once you have done the initial cleaning to use the Q-7 Detailer every time)
  • As a professional detailer, I have had to clean the inside of car windows as many as 3 times to obtain perfection when cleaning windows that have not been cleaned in years
  • I also know that using newspaper to clean windows has never been a recommendation on my part
  • Try using newspaper to clean windows with just one time, and I am certain you will come to the same conclusion
  • I always recommend a waffle weave micro-fiber cloth for all your window cleaning tasks
  • Virtually every professional I know uses waffle weave micro-fiber cloths of some kind to clean car windows with

cleaning car windows with q7 detailer

Now you know my secret! The cat is finally out of the bag and now you can get the same professional results that I deliver to my own customers.

Whether you are cleaning car windows or house windows, you can use the very product and techniques I lay out here.

You are also now part of a very small group of people in the world, called the "informed". People willing to put in the time and effort to become educated and informed. Informed people always make better decisions!

I wish you much success in your car care efforts.


Darren Priest

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