Cleaning windows can be of the biggest challenges when it comes to detailing a car, but with the right products, chemicals and tools, I can teach you how to clean windows like a pro.
Choosing the right window chemical. The main chemical ingredient in window cleaning products is often water along with a combination of surfactants, solvents, and additives. Surfactants help to break down and lift dirt and grime from the surface, solvents dissolve oils and other residues, and additives enhance the cleaning performance and appearance of the solution.
The specific formulation can vary among different brands and products, but common surfactants and additives used in window cleaning products include:
- Surfactants: A surfactant, short for "surface-active agent," is a type of chemical compound that plays a crucial role in cleaning products and various industrial processes. Surfactants have unique properties that allow them to lower the surface tension of liquids and facilitate the mixing of substances that would otherwise be immiscible (not easily mixable), such as oil and water, allowing it to spread and penetrate dirt more effectively
- Solvents: Solvents help to dissolve oily and greasy residues on glass surfaces, making them easier to clean.
- Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol): This is a common solvent used in window cleaners for its ability to dissolve oils and evaporate quickly, leaving surfaces clean and streak-free. Alcohol is often used as a solvent in cleaning products because it can effectively dissolve oils, greases, and residues from various surfaces, including glass. In the context of cleaning automotive glass, alcohol can be used to remove tough stains, adhesives, and other contaminants.
- Ethanol: Similar to isopropyl alcohol, ethanol can also be used as a solvent in window cleaners.
Ammonia-based cleaners are commonly used for cleaning glass surfaces because they can effectively remove built-up residues. However, it's important to note that while ammonia is a solvent, it can have some drawbacks. For example, using ammonia-based cleaners on tinted windows or surfaces with sensitive coatings can lead to damage over time. Therefore, it's recommended to be cautious when using ammonia-based cleaners.
- Additives: Various additives can be included to improve the cleaning performance and appearance of the product.
- Fragrances: Add a pleasant scent to the cleaner.
- Dyes: Add color to the cleaner for easy identification and aesthetics.
- pH Adjusters: Help maintain the optimal pH level for cleaning efficiency.
- Anti-Streak Agents: These additives help prevent streaks and spots from forming after the solution has dried on the glass.
Here are my recommendations on glass chemicals to use to clean your cars windows
GYEON | Q2M Glass - Efficient and Streak Free Glass Cleaner and safe on tinted windows
CARPRO | Clarify Glass Cleaner - Clarify is gentle on ceramic coating and windshield sealant and can easily remove traffic film, oils, and fingerprints
GTECHNIQ | G6 Perfect Glass - Zero streak pure formula
Choosing the right towel: A good towel for cleaning windows should have specific qualities that make it effective at removing dirt, grime, and cleaning solution while leaving the glass surface streak-free and clear. Here are the key characteristics to look for in a towel designed for window cleaning:
- Material: Microfiber is the preferred material for window cleaning towels. Microfiber consists of extremely fine synthetic fibers that have a high surface area, making them excellent at trapping dirt and moisture. Look for towels made from high-quality microfiber with a blend of polyester and polyamide fibers.
- Density and Thickness: Opt for towels with a medium to high density. Higher-density towels have more fibers per square inch, which enhances their cleaning and absorption capabilities. However, the towel should not be overly thick, as a thinner towel allows for better contact with the glass surface.
- Lint-Free: A good window cleaning towel should not shed lint or fibers when in use. Microfiber towels are known for their lint-free properties, which is essential for achieving a streak-free finish.
- Absorption Capacity: The towel should have a high absorption capacity to quickly soak up cleaning solutions and moisture without becoming saturated. This helps prevent streaks and water spots on the glass.
- Softness and Smoothness: The towel's fibers should be soft and smooth to avoid scratching the glass surface. Rough or abrasive towels can cause damage over time.
- Size: Choose a towel that is appropriately sized for the task. Larger towels can cover more surface area, but smaller towels might be more manageable for intricate areas.
- Color: While not a functional aspect, color can help indicate the towel's cleanliness. Light-colored towels allow you to see the dirt and grime you're removing, while dark-colored towels might hide stains and dirt.
Recommendations for the best window cleaning towels
Surgical Huck Window Cleaning Towels - truly lint-free glass cleaning cloth that leaves no streaking behind
AUTOFIBER | Amphibian Mini Microfiber Glass Towel - The twist pile design of this mini microfiber cloth glides softly across paint glass and plastic surfaces, while absorbing streak free.
CARPRO | Glassfiber Towel - firm yet spongy structure with an almost denim-like microfiber material that refuses to lint.
Window Cleaning Technique
The "two towel" window cleaning technique is a method used to achieve streak-free and crystal-clear results when cleaning windows or glass surfaces. This technique involves using two separate towels—one for cleaning and applying the cleaning solution, and the other for drying and buffing the glass. Here's how the technique works:
Start by ensuring that your glass surface is free of larger debris or dust. You can gently brush or wipe the surface with a dry cloth to remove loose particles.
Spray your chosen cleaning solution onto one of the microfiber towels. I like to soak the towel to get it nice and saturated.
Begin wiping the glass surface with the dampened cleaning towel. Work in sections, starting from the top and moving downward. Think of this as your scrubbing towel; scrub every part of the window. Any missed parts of the window could have dirt and grime that will leave behind streaks.
Take the second clean and dry microfiber towel. Quickly and gently follow up behind the cleaning towel to wipe away any excess moisture and residue left on the glass.
Buff the surface using firm but gentle pressure to ensure that no streaks or water spots remain.
After you've finished cleaning and drying all sections of the glass, take a step back to inspect the results. I like to use a hand flashlight to inspect the window.
If you notice any remaining streaks or spots, you can lightly mist the glass with the cleaning solution and use the drying towel again to buff them away.
Specialized Glass Polish:
For more severe issues like water spots, scratches, or etching on the glass, a glass polish might be necessary. Glass polishes contain abrasives that can help remove imperfections. You can also use these products before applying a ceramic glass coating to maximize durability. Use by hand or machine.
My recommendations for Glass polish
CARPRO | CeriGlass Polish - CeriGlass deep cleans and polishes all glass surfaces with ease.
GTECHNIQ | G4 Nanotech Glass Polish - water-based cleaner for glass and ceramics containing nano abrasives and citric acid, which ensure a scratch and smear-free finish every time.
Removing Stickers from Glass:
Removing stickers from glass can be relatively straightforward with the right approach. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you remove stickers from glass surfaces:
Microfiber cloth or lint-free cloth
Peel Off as Much as Possible: Gently try to peel off as much of the sticker as you can using your fingernail or a soft plastic tool. Be careful not to scratch the glass.
Apply the glass cleaner: I like to spray a small amount of glass cleaner onto the sticker while I am using the razor blade to remove
Use a Razor Blade or Plastic Scraper: If the sticker is stubborn and won't come off easily, you can use a razor blade or plastic scraper. Hold the blade or scraper at a slight angle to the glass surface and carefully scrape off the sticker residue. Avoid pressing too hard to prevent scratching the glass.
Be cautious when using a razor blade or scraper to avoid scratching the glass. Keep the blade or scraper at a low angle and use gentle pressure. Avoid using abrasive materials like steel wool, as they can scratch the glass.
Remember that the adhesive properties of stickers can vary, so some stickers may come off more easily than others. Patience and a gentle approach are key to avoiding damage to the glass surface.
Other glass cleaning tools
Sometimes you just need the right tools
Window Cleaning Scrubber: The Scrubber - This product is ideal for cleaning windows prior to applying window tint or for cleaning windows that are heavily soiled. Designed to help reach behind speakers and brake lights, as well as scrub away adhesive along the bottom edges of sloped rear windows. It utilizes replaceable standard White Scrub Pads.
Stoner | Invisible Glass Quick Change Reach & Clean Tool - The Invisible Glass® Quick Change Reach & Clean Tool allows you to reach into tight spaces such as corners, angles, and deep narrow gaps to quickly and easily clean sloped windshields, rear windows, dashboards, and household glass and mirrors.
Glass protection options
To make your car windows hydrophobic, you can apply specialized hydrophobic coatings or treatments. These products create a water-repellent surface on the glass, causing water to bead up and roll off more easily. This can improve visibility during rainy conditions and make it easier to clean your windows. Here are a few options:
Hydrophobic Glass Coatings:
SHINE SUPPLY | Beadlock Glass Ceramic Coating - nano ceramic coating specifically designed for glass.
GTECHNIQ | G1 ClearVision Smart Glass - G1 uses a chemical bond that gives G1 unrivaled durability.
GYEON | Q2 Quickview - Q² QuickView is designed as an easy-to-use rain repellent that will last at least 6 months.
Thank you so much for tips and techniques. That’s really helpful.