There’s nothing more soul-destroying than spending some time cleaning your windows, only to get the car in the sun and see streaks all over the windows. Not only does it look horrible, but it can also impair your visibility making driving unsafe! In this guide, I’ll be focussing on how to clean car windows properly and without streaks!
There are two parts to cleaning car windows: inside and outside. It’s equally important that you clean both sides properly to guarantee a streak-free finish when you’re done.
For everyday use, having streak-free windows will improve the look and feel of the car, making the driving experience a lot more enjoyable! More importantly, crystal clear streak-free glass will also improve your visibility. This is especially important during seasons of low-sun which will render a streaky windscreen useless!
If you want to clean your car windows properly then it’s important that you use the right products. Below I’ve picked out some of the best products for cleaning your car windows (both inside and out).
Best Glass Cleaner for Tinted Windows
If you have tinted car windows it’s important to avoid products containing ammonia. Ammonia can discolour the tints and can even cause the tints to go brittle! Even if you don’t have tinted glass, it’s always safer to use ammonia-free products to ensure you don’t cause unnecessary damage to the glass.
Stoner Invisible Glass is a highly recommended all-round safe glass cleaner. It’s very popular amongst car detailers and will help you to achieve streak-free car windows.
Best Glass Sealant for Cars
Glass sealants are great for repelling water and road grime off your car windows. They will drastically improve visibility in poor driving conditions and will make it easier to clean the glass during maintenance washes.
Rain-X Water Repellent Glass Treatment is a highly recommended glass sealant that is easy to apply and will last a few weeks before needing a top-up. It’s well used in the car detailing community and is fairly cheap compared to other glass sealants. Don’t forget to buy some foam applicator pads to apply Rain-X.
Best Cloth for Cleaning Car Windows
Microfiber Glass Cleaning Cloths (Low Pile)
A combination of a low pile glass cleaning cloth with a waffle-weave cloth will be highly effective at cleaning car windows without leaving streaks.
A low-pile glass cleaning cloth is essential to cleaning car windows without streaks. This cloth should be used during the initial stage of cleaning the glass as the low-pile fabric will help to lift away dirt from the hard glass.
Mammoth Microfibre All Glass Cleaning Towel (Waffle Weave)
The waffle-weave cloth should be kept dry and only used to buff the glass once the low-pile cloth has been used to clean the glass. By keeping the cloth drying it will be more effective as removing streaks from the glass.
How to Clean Car Windows Without Streaks?
Many people tend to focus on the inside of car windows, however, there are two sides to glass and both are equally important to achieving a crystal clear streak-free finish! There are many steps to clean your car windows properly so I’ve marked non-essential steps as [optional]. This should be completed once you’ve cleaned, dried and protected the rest of the car.
See our Beginner’s Guide to Car Detailing for an ordered process to detailing your car.
- Spray your glass cleaner evenly onto the windshield – working half of the windshield at a time to avoid reaching across. By spraying the glass cleaner onto the paint you are creating some lubrication on the glass for the following steps.
- [Optional] Ensure the windshield is well lubricated with glass cleaner. Use a razor blade in straight lines to scrape the glass. This will shave off any particles that are embedded in the glass, and will also remove any stubborn bug splats.
- Apply some more glass cleaner to the windshield and glide some clay across the glass to pull out leftover more contamination. Completing this stage will result in a silky smooth feel.
- Apply some glass cleaner to the window once more and wipe down with a low-pile glass cleaning cloth.
- Buff off any final streaks with your waffle-weave cloth.
How to Apply Glass Sealant Properly?
Glass sealant will help to protect your glass from the environment by providing a hydrophobic layer on top of the glass. This will make it much easier to clean your glass in the future and will also add a mirror-like finish to the glass exterior. It’s important to apply the glass sealant properly to prevent streaks on the window.
- Squirt a small amount of sealant onto the foam applicator pad. It’s important to check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you do not over-apply or under-apply the product.
- Apply the product to the glass in circular motions to ensure full coverage. Using circular motions to apply the glass sealant will stop streaks from forming.
- Allow the product to set to a light haze before buffing off with a clean high-pile microfiber cloth. If the sealant is proving difficult to buff off then you can spray some water onto the glass to help out!
- You do not need to re-apply glass sealant after every wash. Only re-apply when you can see a noticeable drop in its ability to disperse dirt and water.
How to Clean Car Windscreen Wipers?
Windscreen wipers should be cleaned after you have cleaned the windshield. It’s important to clean the windscreen wipers or else you’re just going to be re-introducing grime to the windshield after cleaning it. A combination of clean glass and clean wipers is guaranteed to achieve a great finish!
- Use an old microfibre cloth to clean the wipers as they’re usually really dirty and will transfer a lot of black gunk. Spray the glass cleaner into a 3-inch area on the cloth – you’ll only need a small patch for this job.
- Pinch the rubber with the part of the cloth that you applied the glass cleaner too.
- Gently move the cloth up and down the wiper until you’re happy that that wiper is clean. You should see some black/brown grime transfer to the cloth.
- Once the cloth is no longer picking up any grime is when you know the windscreen wipers are clean.
How to Clean Interior Car Windows Without Streaks?
Cleaning the interior car windows properly can be a really tedious task, especially if you can’t achieve the crystal clear finish you want. Below is the best way to clean interior car windows with some tips and tricks to make the process easier and more enjoyable.
- Before making a start on the inside of the windshield, make sure you’re positioned in the passenger seat rather than the driver’s seat. It’s much easier to reach over to the driver’s side of the window rather than fighting with the steering wheel.
- Fold the low pile glass cleaning cloth into quarters and rest flat on your hand.
- Spray your glass cleaner evenly across the cloth. Do not spray directly onto the window as this will overspray onto the dash which could mark the dash and will just create unnecessary work for yourself.
- Starting at the driver’s side of the window, wipe the cloth in a top-to-bottom action across the windshield.
- Complete the driver’s side of the window before revealing a new side to the cloth, re-applying some glass cleaner and completing the passenger side of the window.
- Move your head to different angles to try and spot smudges or missed patches.
- Once you’ve cleaned the inside of the windshield, take a dry waffle weave cloth and buff the window to remove any leftover streaks.
How to Clean Instrument Cluster Plastic?
You can use the same concepts used to clean the interior car windows to clean the instrument cluster plastics without scratching them. Instrument cluster plastics tend to be a lot softer than glass, making them more prone to ugly scratches and hazing. Ensure that your cloth is completely clean to avoid scratching the plastic.
- Take a clean medium pile cloth and apply a small amount of glass cleaner to the cloth. Do not spray directly onto the instrument cluster as you risk the glass cleaner dripping down and potentially damaging the instrument cluster.
- Gently wipe the instrument cluster until you are happy with the coverage.
- Take a clean microfibre cloth and remove any excess glass cleaner and any existing streaks/smudges.
Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t mix your glass cloths
Keep you glass cleaning cloths for cleaning glass and only glass. By using the same cloths for waxing, detailing or other cleaning tasks you are potentially introducing waxes and oils that will cause streaking on the glass.
Do fold your glass cleaning cloth so you can keep revealing clean sides
When using your glass cleaning cloth, fold it into quarters. This will give you many fresh sides of cloth to switch between when cleaning your glass. By constantly revealing a fresh side of cloth you are less like to re-introduce grime and oils to the glass – reducing streaking.