Don’t you just hate it when you’re driving and can’t tell whether your windshield is dirty or if there’s a cat on the road? Not only is a dirty windshield annoying to look at, but it can also be extremely dangerous. Dirt and dust reduce your visibility and create glare, making it almost impossible for you to see where you’re going. So to protect you and others on the road, here are my top tips on how to clean the inside of a windshield and keep it streak-free.
Why Is My Windshield Dirty?
When you’re cleaning the entire interior of your car, you have to pay special attention to which products you’re using. Believe it or not, they’re one of the top culprits of a dirty windshield.
For example, if you’re using something in a spray bottle, the air particles from it will stick to the windshield and form little specks that can obstruct your view. In addition to some cleaning solutions, there are three more offenders that can keep messing up your windows.
Off-gassing, which is a term usually associated with new cars, is the reason they smell so good and why your windshields are always dirty. Namely, every plastic dashboard is coated with a mix of chemicals and oils that help protect it and make it more durable.
However, those chemicals get released into the air over time, especially when it’s hot outside. As they start wafting through the air, they will travel to your windshield and cling to it, creating a film.
Once the chemicals and oils stick to your windshield, you can’t clean them with water alone. What’s more, the problem can get even worse if your car is often exposed to direct sunlight.
If you or someone else often smoke in your car, you need to knock it off right now. First of all, driving and smoking at the same time is extremely dangerous, and countless people have had car accidents because of it.
Also, the smoke from your cigarette contains dirt particles that cling to the inside of your windshield. When that happens, it looks similar to off-gassing, and you’ll notice a sort of film on your windows and windshield.
If you have kids, the chances are they’ll smack their hands on your windshield at some point. The oils and dirt from their hands or yours will stick to it, and they’ll reduce your visibility.
Best Cleaning Solutions for a Dirty Windshield
Whether you decide to go for a homemade or commercial windshield cleaner is totally up to you. Depending on what I have around my home, I’ll use different types at various times.
Homemade Windshield Cleaners
Now, there are a couple of different windshield cleaning solutions, but you’ll need one or more of these ingredients for most:
- Distilled white vinegar
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Mild dishwashing liquid
- Microfiber cloths or newspapers
For the first recipe, mix one cup of white vinegar into a bowl of warm water or a spray bottle. However, if you can’t stand the smell of vinegar like me, I recommend putting a few drops of dishwashing liquid. It will completely mask the smell of vinegar, and you won’t have to air out your car later.
What’s more, you can also mix equal parts of water and isopropyl alcohol with just a splash of white vinegar. Again, you can put this either in a small bucket, container, or spray bottle.
If you don’t want to use microfiber cloths, I recommend using newspapers to clean your windows and windshield. Just be careful not to get any ink residue on your hands because it can be tough to get off.
I also recommend keeping a spray bottle of cleaning solution in your car at all times. That way, you can clean your windshield as soon as it gets dirty and avoid creating buildup.
Commercial Windshield Cleaners
If you can’t be bothered to make one yourself, there are some excellent commercial cleaners you can get on Amazon. Here are some of my favorite products:
- Sprayway Glass Cleaner — This product is an ammonia-free foam that doesn’t leave a film after cleaning. You can use it on your windshield, windows, and mirrors.
- Invisible Glass Tool and Cleaner — If you want a two-in-one cleaner and tool that easily fits in your car, Invisible Glass is right for you. It’s easy to use, and you can reach every part of your windshield with it.
- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser — The Magic Eraser is a melamine sponge with micro scrubbers that’ll lift the grime and dirt off glass. All you have to do is soak it in water to activate its cleaning properties.
- Chemical Guys Signature Series Glass Cleaner — This ammonia-free product is another that you can use on your windows, windshields, and even TV screens. It’s non-toxic, and you can buy it in three different sizes.
How to Clean a Windshield
I recommend you only start cleaning your windshield when you’re done detailing your entire car. There’s no point in doing it first because the dirt and dust particles will stick to it again.
For starters, hop into the passenger seat of your car so that you can reach the entire area better. Then, take a dry, clean cloth and go over your windshield, using circular motions. By doing so, you’ll remove the majority of dust and oils from your windshield.
The next step is to apply your cleaning solution to a different microfiber cloth or newspaper. However, make sure not to soak it too much and, if you’re using a cloth, wring out any extra solution. Again, using circular motions, go over the entire windshield slowly and carefully.
For those hard-to-reach areas and corners, you can grab either a coat hanger or a ruler and wrap the cloth around them. Once you’re done with the solution, grab your dry cloth or newspaper, flip them to the clean side, and wipe the entire area again.
If you see more specks of dust or dirt after cleaning, you can repeat the entire process one more time.
Also, if you live anywhere near the coast or often drive by it, I recommend putting a bit of vinegar in your solution. It can break down crystallized sea salt, and you’ll be able to see much better through your windshield.
What Not to Do
If you want to avoid messy streaks, don’t put the cleaning solution directly onto your windshields. Also, never skip the drying step to avoid getting residue buildup and dirty patches.
I would also avoid using any old towels that you have lying around your home. For your windows and windshields, you have to use lint-free fibers, like microfiber, paper towels, and newspapers.
Of course, make sure that you’re not using any cloth or fabrics that have oil residue on them because you’ll just make everything worse.
Keeping Your Windshield Sparkly Clean
If you don’t want your hard work to go to waste, it’s vital that you, on occasion, leave your windows cracked open. Even if it’s just an inch, you’ll be letting all the chemicals out of your car, and you can avoid the effects of off-gassing.
Also, I recommend parking in the shade and avoiding direct sunlight. Not only can exposure to sun fog up your windshields, but it can also destroy your car paint, and kill your tire shine.
Lastly, if you have air-fresheners in your car, ditch them. They’re doused with artificial scents, which, when evaporated, stick to your windshield and contribute to off-gassing.
Yes, I know that you don’t want to spend your weekend cleaning your windshield, but it’s not something you should avoid. Driving with dirty windows is dangerous, and you could hurt yourself or others on the road.
With my cleaning solutions and easy-to-follow tips, learning how to clean the inside of a windshield is a pain-free process. You don’t need to use any expensive products, and it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes for the whole windshield.