Wonder Why Your Car Windows Never Get Clean?

One of the most frustrating parts of detailing a car is trying to get streak-free crystal clear invisible windows without causing any damage. Follow our four-step process to making your windows look brand new! For best results, clean all windows in a cool shaded area, preventing the product from drying.   

Leftover oil and debris can leave striking and spotting on glass. If using the wrong cleaner, dirty cloth, or improper technique streaking and fogging will occur. It is important to use an automotive glass cleaner and new or dedicated glass microfibers. It is also crucial to use the mow down, clean, and polish process to ensure a streak-free finish.

If you are washing the rest of your car before washing the windows, I recommend cleaning the exterior of the windows in the same manner as your paint. For windows that are relatively clean (compared to paint), you can clean your windows at the same time as paint. If your windows haven’t been cleaned in a while, and are dirtier than your paint, I recommend washing them in the same manner as the paint, but after cleaning your vehicle’s paint, to prevent cross-contamination and possibly scratching your paint.  

Really Dirty Windows  

Typically found on the windshield, bugs and tar may make it difficult to use the typical window scrubbing technique. I have found it best to apply a bug and tar remover to the glass and allow it to sit for 1-5 minutes, ensuring that it does not dry on the glass. Once ready, rinse off using a pressure washer, with medium pressure, keeping away from the paint. If a pressure washer is unavailable, scrub using microfiber and rinse with a hose. This process should remove most large contaminants on the glass.  

1. Picking a Cleaning Cloth  

There are many different cloth choices when cleaning your windows, all with varying prices and quality. Here are my top 5 cleaning cloths for windows: 

  1. Waffle Weave Window Towel (Best)
  2. Microfiber Towels  
  3. Shop Towels   
  4. News Paper  
  5. Paper Towels  

For best results, I recommend using a combination of shop towels and waffle weave towels — the shop towels for the mow down, and the waffle weave for clean-up and final polish.  To learn more about picking a microfiber check out this article!

2. The Mow-Down Technique  

To remove the bulk of grease and oil from interior and exterior windows, I recommend the Mow Down technique. This technique involves applying a generous amount of ammonia-free window cleaner and scrubbing the entire window. Starting with the outer edge of the window, creating a box, and then wiping in a back-and-forth motion until dry. This can be repeated on each window until little to no dirt and oil are found on your rag. This stage will likely leave some streaks and imperfections, but the main goal is to remove the bulk of the oil. Once this stage is completed and all debris is removed, follow up with a clean-up wipe 

2.5 Windows that won’t get clean

If your windows still contain large bugs, tar, or other large debris after wiping them down you may need to clay bar your windows. Start by applying lubrication (either clay lube or car soap water mixture) to your window and clay bar. Once lubricated, begin rubbing back and forth with little to no pressure, allowing the clay to lift debris off the glass. Every few passes fold the dirty side of clay in on itself, exposing 2 new clean sides, and wipe any excess lubrication off. It would be best to clay until the glass has a smooth texture. Once finished claying, wipe off any remaining lubricant and repeat the mow-down technique.

3. Clean-Up Wipe   

At this stage, your window should have most contaminants removed, but some slight hazing and streaking may still be present. To remove any hazing and streaks, apply a light mist of window cleaner and wipe it off with a new or clean cloth. This mist should be heavy enough to break the friction between the cloth and window but light enough to dry after 2-3 full passes. The goal of this stage is to remove all window cleaner with your cloth before it can dry on the glass. If too much product is applied, it will begin to dry before fully wiping off, leaving behind a residue. 

4. Final “Polish”  

To finalize the window cleaning, and ensure clarity at night, I recommend buffing the window. Using a clean microfiber cloth, lightly rub in a back-and-forth motion on the glass until crystal clear. This buffing helps remove any remaining imperfections, as well as dust. Make sure to look at the glass from several different angles for any hazing or streaks that may still need to be buffed. If large smudging or residue persists, repeat the mow-down stage until fully cleaned. At this stage, you can apply a window protectant on the exterior for extra protection, as well as the added benefit of water beading.

Cleaning The Inside of the Windshield (Pro Tip!) 

When it comes to the inside of your windshield, there often is a film of oil that can be difficult to remove. This oil comes from your dashboard plastics, as well as oily protectant layers (Armor-All) that evaporate onto your windshield. These oils may be difficult to remove by conventional methods, but a simple magic Eraser will do the job. 

A magic eraser will remove the stubborn oils on your windshield. Spray half of the windshield with water and clean it with a Magic Eraser. Follow this up with a glass cleaner and a new microfiber and clean it like the rest of the glass. Using a new or clean dedicated glass microfiber is essential to prevent streaking.  

Safe to use on glass, Magic Erasers will cut through the layer of oil built up on your windshield. I typically work on half of the windshield at a time, fully finishing one half before moving to the next. followed up with a mow down, clean-up wipe, and polish, give the windshield a quick inspection from all angles (inside and out) removing any small streaking or hazing with a clean microfiber. Once finished you should be left with a crystal clear windshield day or night! 

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