cleaning the windshield with a car wash sponge

How To Clean Your Car Windshield Inside And Out

If you want to be safe on the roads and ensure your vision is crystal clear, your windscreen needs to be properly cleaned on a regular basis.

There are a lot of ways to clean your windshield, and none of them are difficult. So for your own safety, and the safety of other drivers on the roads, read on to learn how to clean your windshield properly, both inside and out.

When and Where to Clean Your Windshield

alfa romeo stelvio under a canopy

Cleaning your windshield should be a regular part of your car’s maintenance. But if you don’t want to set up a regular schedule for cleaning your windshield, be sure to do it as soon as you see any hazyness or streaking, or if you start having a more difficult time seeing the road in front of you.

It is best to clean your windshield after you have cleaned the rest of your car (if you are doing both jobs together), as you would definitely not like to get car wax or some other car cleaning agent on your nice, clean windshield. So clean your car first, both inside and out, before attempting to clean your windshield.

The best time to clean your windshield would be when it is cool, so that the evaporation of the cleaning agents is slowed. If this is not possible, try to do the job in a cool and shady place.

What You’ll Need

  • Ammonia-free glass cleaner (especially if you have tinted windows)
  • Microfiber cloths – be sure to get a few of these
  • Car wash sponge (optional)
  • Soft scrub pad
  • Clay bar and clay lube for deep cleaning

Cleaning the Outside of Your Windshield

1. You should start by lifting your wiper blades away from the windshield, and checking them for dirt and damage. If they are damaged, be sure to replace them before wiping your freshly cleaned windshield. If they are dirty, clean them well before starting this job.

Related: How To Expertly Clean Windshield Wipers

2. If your windshield is particularly dirty then give it a good wash with a soapy car wash sponge. When done, spray it down with water, and dry it up with a cloth.

via GIPHY

drying up the windshield with a cloth

3. Spray half of the windshield with the ammonia-free glass cleaner. Use 3 to 5 squirts per side of the windshield, depending on the size.

spraying window cleaner on a windshield

4. Using a clean microfiber cloth, and starting in the middle, clean the windshield with straight, vertical movements. Wipe from top to bottom, working your way outwards, towards yourself. If you have a hard time reaching the top middle of your windshield, use a step stool to get you closer.

5. Now wipe the same half of the windshield horizontally, starting in the middle, and wiping towards you. Start at the top, and make straight swipes, parallel to each other, until you reach the bottom.

6. Now repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 on the other side of the windshield. It is important to only wipe in straight lines at this point, as circular motions may cause streaking. For stubborn marks, go over them in a back and forth motion, rather than a buffing (circular) movement.

7. Now it is time to buff the windshield. For this, you will want to use a fresh, clean, and dry microfiber cloth, and rub in circular motions. You are likely to need more than 1 microfiber cloth per side, as you should discard the cloths as they get dirty or damp. Buff the side you cleaned first, followed by the opposite side.

An advanced method for cleaning your windshield.

Deep Cleaning the Outside of Your Windshield

For a slightly deeper clean, but without spending hours on it, you can use a bar of detailing clay to get rid of the worst of the dirt and grime on your windshield.

Detailing clay is an elastic compound made to extract dirt and grime from the microscopic dings and scratches on your windshield that are too small for the human eye to see. Although tiny, these imperfections are still large enough to gather dirt, and negatively affect the clarity of your windshield.

Related: How To Easily Remove Scratches From A Windshield

Be sure to read the instructions on the packaging of your particular bar of clay, as instructions differ slightly from brand to brand. Follow them closely. The general idea will be as follows:

  1. Mist the windshield with water
  2. Apply clay lube to the glass
  3. Hold the bar of clay lengthwise in your hand, the way you would a bar of soap
  4. Rub the clay over the windshield – it should glide smoothly through the water and lubricant
  5. Start in the middle of the windshield, making vertical strokes from bottom to top
  6. If the clay bar slows or sticks, it has hit some form of dirt or grime. Stop to clean that area properly
  7. Repeat the process with the other half of the windshield
  8. Buff the windshield with a clean microfiber cloth
This is how to clay bar your windshield.

Cleaning Your Windshield on the Inside

cleaning the windshield on the inside

Keeping the inside of your windshield clean is just as important as the outside. It will maintain good visibility and ensure that your defroster can do its job properly. Again, this should only be done once you are finished cleaning the inside of your car.

Do not use water for this, as it will streak. It is also good to note that vinyl or leather interiors, especially in cars that are in the heat a lot, will cause an oily buildup over time. If your car has one of these interiors, it would be best to buy a glass cleaner that is made for removing oils.

  1. Using the cloths you used to clean the outside of the windshield, cover the dashboard to prevent cleaning agents from dripping on it.
  2. Spray some glass cleaner on a scrub pad, and some on the glass. Start cleaning in an upper corner, and swipe downwards in straight lines, working your way across to the other side of the car.
  3. Buff the glass with a dry microfiber cloth to reach a sparkling sheen.

Another option for a cleaning solution is a mixture of 50% rubbing alcohol, 50% water, and a capful of white vinegar. This should be able to remove oily buildup, as well as get your windshield looking sparkly clean on the inside.

***

Now you know how to clean your windshield, and how to keep it clean (you also might want to read our article about cleaning your side windows and the rear windscreen).

We suggest following these steps on a regular basis to ensure the safety of you and your family, as well as your fellow drivers. Be safe on the roads, and remember to read our other articles about caring for your car, to ensure you know how to look after all aspects of your safety.