car washer holding green rag and cleaning car window-feature

How to Clean Your Car Windows Like a Pro

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We often wash our cars, using soapy water to get rid of the dirt, or even a waterless cleaner to get that clean shine. But what about our car windows?

You obviously want them to be just as clean as the rest of your vehicle, but it is about more than that. Dirty windows not only look unsightly, but they pose a potential road hazard. If you don’t have full visibility, you cannot ensure your passengers’ safety.

Windows show up dirt more than the rest of your car, especially when the sun is shining through them. This step-by-step guide will help you get spotless windows every time.

Step 1: Choose Your Cleaning Product

You can find professional cleaning products in any auto parts store or online. Most window cleaners do the same job, so if you are out to get your windows clean and nothing more, then most cleaners will help you to do that. Of course, you will find that there are more expensive cleaners on the market.

Generally, the more expensive cleaners will do a better job of cleaning the windows and have added benefits such as streak or watermark protection. The best way to investigate which cleaner is right for you is to check online reviews where available. There are some cleaners out there that do the same job for a higher cost. Here are three of our favorites:

I like to stay away from cleaners that contain ammonia. They can work well on car windows, but they are more difficult to use, and they can leave streaks if you do not use the product correctly. And if ammonia is left on windows with an aftermarket film or tint, it can eat it away.

Pro Tip: If you want to go down the natural route, you can use a mixture of vinegar and water. Use a 50/50 mix. Vinegar will get the job done, but it is only recommended for light cleaning.

Step 2: Gather Your Equipment

cleaning products

I recommend using microfiber cloths. They allow you to apply the cleaner well, and they are the best for a streak-free finish. They might cost a little more than using regular cloths or rags, but they give the best finish.

If you have soiled windows, a sponge and squeegee work well. You can use the sponge to apply the cleaning product and then the squeegee to remove the cleaner without leaving streaks.

Step 3: Find A Good Place To Work

A driveway or even on the street is a fine place to clean your windows, and you don’t need a whole lot of space to clean your windows effectively. Think about the following before you start:

  • Stick to areas with no clutter.
  • Stay out of direct sunlight when cleaning.
  • High winds can affect the process.
  • Look for an area where you can have all your equipment present.
  • Be in a place where you can work from start to finish.

Step 4: Remove Heavy Dirt Before You Start To Clean

dirty car window from inside

If you have dirty windows, it is best to remove any dirt before you use your glass cleaner. Not only will this make the process easier, but it will remove the risk of scratches and abrasions.

If the windows have a lot of dirt, you can use soapy water with a sponge and squeegee first.

Woman in gloves washes car windows with sponge

Just be sure to let the windows dry before you use your glass cleaner (this will mean having to plan ahead and do the cleaning in two separate stages).

Step 5: Clean Your Car Windows

I like to start with the tops of the windows, then the interior, and finish with the exterior. You can clean the windows in any order, but I always recommend the top first.

Roll down the windows: Roll down whichever windows roll down, and apply your cleaner to your cloth. Wipe down the top of the window and the top of the interior and exterior. Let the glass dry and roll the window back up. Repeat the process for all windows that roll down.

Clean the interior and exterior: I like to clean the interior sides of the windows first as it is usually the most awkward. For the side windows, you can sit in a seat to clean them or clean them with the doors open, but the front and rear can be awkward.

You can spray the cleaner on the cloth or the window. I like to apply the cleaner directly to the glass, and I am conscious not to apply too much. For side windows, you can spray enough to clean the entire window in one go. For the front and rear, work in sections and don’t apply too much, or it will run before you can use your cloth.

woman cleaning car window

For the interior and exterior, apply the cleaner and work either from side to side or up and down. Don’t use a circular motion, or you are more likely to leave streaks on the glass.

Stubborn stains: You might not want to wash the windows before using a glass cleaner, and that can mean some stubborn stains to deal with. Bird droppings or spots of mud are common. You can use your glass cleaner to attack these stains, and you will have to rub harder on the dirt.

Pro Tip: Carry a rag with you and use it with the glass cleaner to clean tougher stains before using a microfiber cloth for the entire window.

The rubber seals might also need attention, and you can use your cloth on them too. For deeper dirt, a toothbrush can be helpful.

Cleaning the wipers: You don’t want to go to all the trouble only to put on your wipers and have them streak your windshield. As you are cleaning the front and rear windows, lift up the wipers and run a cloth along the wiper blades to clean them too.

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Buff the windows: Keep a clean cloth around to buff the windows to a shine. Once you have applied the cleaner with your microfiber cloth, you can finish off with a dry clean cloth to create the best finish.

Step 6: Take One Last Look

When you are done, take a walk around your car, and sit inside to look through the windows from the inside out. Look from different angles and check that you cleaned everything. This might be the time to take your vehicle out into direct sunlight to spot any missed areas—especially in the interior.

Spot clean any missed areas as needed.

When you are done, you can sit back and relax after a job well done.

Step 7: Finishing Up

The best thing that you can do when you have finished cleaning your vehicle windows is not to leave your car in direct sunlight. If the cleaner is allowed to dry in sunlight, it can leave white streaks.

Learn how to clean your car windows like a pro.

What About Damage?

When you are cleaning your windows, you have the perfect opportunity to check the glass and seals for any damage. Cracks or chips are best caught early, and they can be fixed easily and cheaply before they turn into bigger problems.

Related: How To Easily Remove Scratches From A Windshield

If you do notice any damage, take your vehicle to an autobody repair shop and have them take a look. Minor repairs can usually be done on the spot, and that will save you a lot of hassle later.