Tinted windows are arguably the best feature you could add to your car, and anyone who disagrees — doesn’t know what they’re talking about. They protect you from glare, provide privacy, and make your car look elegant and stylish. Unfortunately, the tint has an expiration date, and if you don’t know how to remove it properly — you could end up ruining your windows.
There are 2 basic ways of removing tint — scraping and heating. However, your method of choice depends on the reason why you’re removing it. So, before anything else, let’s see whether you need to scrape or use heat to remove the tint.
Main Reasons for Removing Tint
No matter how much I personally enjoy tint, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However, removing it when it’s in pristine condition is no easy task. Luckily, you will still be able to get rid of the brand new tint by applying heat to your windows.
Bubbling film looks awful, and once a single bubble appears — there’s no going back. Even though you might want to start peeling it off, you should try applying heat or scraping it. Luckily, bubbling tint is a sign that the adhesive has already started to disintegrate so it will be easier to remove it.
Tint can lose its ability to block UV rays over time and will become purple when that happens. The process isn’t reversible, and it happens when the non-metallic dyes start breaking down. However, you can try applying heat to the tint to remove it before replacing it with a new one.
Now that you know which method to use in which scenario, let’s talk about how you can go about removing old tint from car windows.
Heating Methods for Removing Window Tint
Heat Gun or Hairdryer
- A hairdryer or heat gun
- 1 clean towel
- Window cleaner
This is one of the simplest methods of removing the tint, and you can use either a heat gun or a hairdryer. First, run the hairdryer on high temperature, about two inches away from the window, until the glue starts melting. Once that happens, you can try prying the edge off with your fingernail.
Slightly angle your dryer so you can reach the place where the window and the film meet and keep peeling the glue. You can scrub the adhesive away with a clean towel, and use the hairdryer to soften it when needed. Once you’re done, you can use a cleaning solution to wash your windows before applying a new tint.
A fabric cleaner is arguably the best and most efficient tool in cleaning the interior of your car, and you can even use it to get rid of tint. Moreover, when you get the tint off, you will only have some glue remnants to deal with. You can take a look at video below if you need any help with using a steam cleaner to remove the tint.
- 2 plastic bags cut out in the shape of your window
- Spray bottle with ammonia
- Spray bottle with soapy water
- A tarp
- Protective mask
A warm sunny day can help you get rid of tint more efficiently. First, put on a protective mask so you don’t inhale any fumes, and cover the interior surfaces of your car with a tarp. Next, spray the ammonia on the inside of your window, and the soapy water on the outside and cover both with the plastic bags.
Let everything sit for at least 20 minutes before removing the bags, then take a corner of the tint and start peeling it off gently. You can spray ammonia when you reach a dry spot to make it easier to remove all of the tint properly. Lastly, use a non-metallic scraper to get rid of any tint spots, and one of the methods for removing glue residue I’ll be listing later on.
Scraping Methods for Removing Window Tint
Sharp objects can help you remove the tint and put in less effort and time in doing so. However, it goes without saying that you need to be extremely careful when using sharp objects near your car windows. Don’t rush yourself or apply too much pressure, and use non-metallic scrapers if you have plastic windows.
Additionally, although these methods are simpler and quicker, you do run the risk of damaging the glass. So, if you’re using a sharp blade, keep it at a slight angle to avoid completely ruining your car windows. Now that’s out of the way, let’s see which methods you can use to get rid of tint from your car windows.
- Soapy water
- A scraper
Using newspapers to clean your windows is a bit of a controversial topic in the car cleaning world. However, it is true that they can help you get rid of tint. Simply wet the tint film with warm soapy water, and place newspapers on top of it.
Next, let the window soak up the sun’s warmth for at least an hour, and keep adding more soapy water every 20 minutes. Try removing the tint by scraping it slowly and gently, and let it soak for another 30 minutes if it’s not budging.
- Soapy water
- Glass cleaner
This is one of the slower methods for getting rid of tint, but it’s perfect for small areas or weak windows. Start by using a razor blade to carefully cut an edge on the film, and start peeling it away. Once you’ve gotten rid of the film, you can spray the area with soapy water and start scraping away the glue. Lastly, use some glass cleaner to give your windows some shine.
Combine Heating and Scraping
- A clothing steamer
- Distilled water
- A utility knife or a scraper
- Plastic tarp or garbage bag
The method combines the effectiveness of a scraping tool, with the convenience of using a heating method. First, use the plastic bag or tarp to protect the interior of your car. Then, use a clothing steamer to soften the adhesive and allow the window tilt and glass to separate from each other.
Don’t use the steamer in one spot only, and try to heat up the whole window tint so you can soften the adhesive. Lastly, use a utility knife to pick at the edges of the tint and keep applying steam to the window tint. Simply peel off the window film, and you’re done!
Keep in mind that these methods will only help you remove the tint and not the residue. So, now that you know how to remove old tint from car windows, let’s talk about getting rid of that pesky glue.
How to Remove Window Tint Glue Residue
Unfortunately, getting rid of the leftover glue can be even trickier than removing the tint itself. However, these methods will help you battle any and all remaining gunk.
- An ice scraper
If you choose to work on a warmer day or in a heated garage — scrubbing could be all you need to do. You can use warm soapy water and an ice scraper to get rid of glue residence safely.
An Alcohol Solvent
- 90% isopropyl alcohol
- A rag
- A spray bottle
- Protective gear
Alcohol is one of the cheapest and most efficient solvents you could get. Using protective gear, pour some 90% alcohol on a rag to clean smaller spots. For bigger surfaces, you can pour the alcohol in a spray bottle. Also, always make sure you’re in a ventilated room and are taking precautions to avoid harming yourself with the alcohol solvent.
Nail Polish Remover
- Nail polish remover
- A microfiber towel
Not many people realize how good of a solvent nail polish remover is. You can use it with a microfiber towel to remove almost any adhesive from your car windows. However, this method requires a bit more elbow grease, and you’ll need to take some time to make sure you get rid of everything. Nevertheless, nail polish remover is a great cleaning solvent that will give your windows a beautiful sheen.
Store-Bought Adhesive Removers
- A trash bag
- An adhesive remover
Adhesive removers are made specifically for removing glue residue from your car’s windows. They come in different shapes and with different features, however, there is one that stands out.
I would personally recommend using GoopAway as a natural, eco-friendly product made for getting rid of glue marks. Additionally, you can also GoopAway to clean the interior of your car without damaging it. However, keep in mind that it can’t help you remove the tint itself.
First, take a trash bag and cut it to fit the window. Next, spray water on the exterior of your car and cover it with the plastic bag. Use your hands to smoothen the bag and make sure there aren’t any wrinkles left.
Peel off the plastic, and spray some water on the inside of your window. Lastly, place the bag over it and smoothen it.
Remove Old Tint When the Time Comes
Although window tints are incredibly sleek and elegant, there will come a time when you’ll have to remove them. It could be that you want to replace them because they’ve lost their shine, or you live in a state where they’ve been outlawed. When this happens, you’ll be faced with the decision of removing them yourself or having a mechanic do that for you.
I love working on my car, so I would always opt for a DIY solution whenever it’s possible. Also, a mechanic typically doesn’t have the time to go into detail and get rid of every speck of glue — which could cause an issue in the future. If the tint isn’t removed properly, it could make it quite hard for you to have a new one installed.
These methods will help you get rid of tint and glue residue quickly and easily, and the majority of them don’t even cost much. So, I hope this article helps you get rid of the tint in your windows and saves you some time and money.
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