There’s a lot to focus on when you’re driving a car. You’ve got to think about where you’re going, what speed you should be driving at, what other cars are doing… the list goes on.
When there’s already so much going on, the last thing you want to be doing is thinking about how you really should have cleaned your car windows.
Not only can it be tiresome trying to peer through grime, dirty windows can be distracting and dangerous if you’re left trying to clear them while you’re driving. We definitely don’t recommend it!
To make sure you don’t end up in that situation, we’re here to guide you on cleaning both the inside and outside of your car windows for a streak-free result.
What is the best thing to clean car windows with?
Newspapers have long been hailed as the best thing to clean glass, but modern water-based inks in newspapers may just leave you and your windows with inky smudges.
Paper towels and regular cloths are often poor at removing contaminants, and could leave fluff and residue behind that mean you have to clean your car windows all over again. If you want a clean shine without streaking, a microfibre cloth is the best investment for your cleaning routine.
For your cleaning product, there are a few more options to choose from. Though you'll likely have a glass cleaner or two sitting around your home, it’s always best to use one formulated specifically for car glass. If you have a window tint on your glass, ammonia-based cleaners can cause discolouration and ruin the tint, and they can dry out your rubber seals.
Here, we’ve rounded up the best window cleaners to choose from.
Window wipes have become a popular method for a quick clean up job when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.
We wouldn’t recommend using these as part of your regular car care or cleaning routine, as they’re not 100% effective at cleaning your car windows or removing significant build up. However, they are handy to have in the car or to use in between washes. If you’ve got the time, follow up with a wipe over with your microfibre towel.
Our top pick - Armor All’s Glass Wipes. They’re ammonia-free (safe for tinted car windows), can be used inside and out, and are more environmentally friendly than alternatives as they’re made from biodegradable plant material.
Formulated glass cleaning products are likely to do the best job at clearing your windows as they’re designed for automotive glass. We always suggest one that comes in a spray bottle, as with the exception of your interior windows, you’ll save a lot of time reapplying to your cloth by quickly spraying over the glass.
Our top pick - Autoglym Fast Glass. The highly rated product promises to quickly remove dust, insects, tree sap, grease, oil and bird droppings from your glass.
If you don't have the time to go out and get new products, the Internet has dozens of homemade cleaning solutions like rubbing alcohol. Using just the items in your cupboard, you can get a clean and shine similar to the professionals.
Our top pick - A white vinegar cleaning solution. Mix up one part white vinegar, and two parts distilled water, then decant into a spray bottle. Follow the steps below for how to clean, replacing the glass cleaner with your white vinegar solution.
How do you clean car windows without streaks?
If you haven’t already, we’d recommend starting off by washing your car or using a car wash. This will get rid of any buildup of lingering bugs and dirt, meaning your main task is polishing up the car glass.
It’s best to clean your car windscreen first. This is done in a similar way to your windows, but since any dirt you’re clearing off your car windshield is more likely to splatter round, it makes sense to clean your side windows last. For guidance on the windscreen, check out how to clean your car windscreen.
For your exterior windows, you’ll need two microfibre cloths and a glass cleaner.
- Spray your cleaning solution all over the window. Unlike the windscreen, your side windows should be small enough that you don’t need to work in sections.
- Use your lint free microfibre cloth to wipe in a vertical and then horizontal motion for a streak-free finish.
- With the other side of the cloth, buff in small circular motions.
Just like with the inside of your windscreen, cleaning your interior glass has to be done a little more carefully.
- You don’t want to end up with cleaning products all over your interior, so spray glass cleaner directly onto a clean cloth.
- Using your microfibre cloth, wipe the inside window up and down in a vertical motion, then follow with a horizontal motion.
- Wipe dry with a clean microfibre towel.
For cleaning both the interior and exterior glass, remember to roll down your windows to catch any dirt at the top of the window. It’s also a good idea to plan your cleaning for a cool or cloudy day, as heat or strong UV rays can mean trying to quickly wipe away your cleaner before it bakes into the window.
How to clean the rubber around car windows?
It’s easy to overlook the rubber trim around your car windows, as it doesn’t easily fall under the window or car body categories for cleaning. But it’s important to stay on top of your rubber trim condition, as they prevent contaminants and moisture getting into your windows.
The good news is that they can be cleaned in just a few steps:
- Apply car shampoo to the entire window trim.
- Using a microfibre cloth or sponge, clean and remove any dirt. For marked or particularly dirty trim, use a soft toothbrush.
- With a clean, damp microfibre cloth, wipe away the shampoo to make sure no residue is left behind.
- Dry with a microfibre towel.
Once your rubber has dried completely, you can apply a rubber protectant to keep it in the best condition. AutoGlym’s Vinyl and Rubber Care conditions and protects interior and exterior rubber, forming a tough but flexible anti-static barrier that protects against moisture, oxidation and fading.
With your windscreen and windows looking their best, you want to stay on top of your car’s factory fresh look. Make sure your vehicle is getting the TLC it deserves with our blog on how often you should wash your car.
Our car maintenance checklist can then help you keep track of all the regular maintenance you should be doing to keep your car running smoothly.