What Are The Best Car Window Cleaners? – 2020 Reviews
Your car’s windows are easy to overlook when clean, but hard to ignore when dirty.
The irregular shape and angle of vehicle windshields can make cleaning them difficult. But the right window cleaners can perform miracles! Not sure which cleaner is best for the windows on your ride? Here’s a look at our favorites for 2020. Plus, we’ve got tons of cleaning tips and tricks to make your windows shine!
Compare Our Picks For The Best Car Window Cleaners
- Car Window Cleaner Reviews
- Our #1 Choice – Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity Auto Glass Cleaner
- Our #2 Choice – Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner
- Our #3 Choice – Shine Society All-Natural Glass and Window Cleaner
- Our #4 Choice – Chemical Guys Signature Series Glass Cleaner
- Our #5 Choice – Adam’s New Glass Cleaner
- Our #6 Choice – Driven Extreme Duty Glass Cleaner
- Our #7 Choice – 3M Glass Cleaner
- Our #8 Choice – Rain-X Glass Cleaner and Rain Repellant
- Our #9 Choice – Hollywood’s Diamond Clear Glass Cleaner
- Our #10 Choice – TriNova Premium Glass Cleaner
- Why Should I Use Car Window Cleaner?
- Should Window Cleaner Contain Ammonia?
- Why is Window Cleaner Different from Other Types of Cleaners?
- How Do I Clean My Car Windows?
- Gather Your Cleaning Supplies
- Park Your Car in the Shade
- Clean the Interior First
- Clean the Glass
- Clean the Front and Rear Windows
- Clean the Tops of the Windows
- Clean the Wiper Blades
- How Do I Remove Dead Bugs?
- How Do I Remove Hard Water Buildup?
- How Often Should I Clean My Windshield?
Car Window Cleaner Reviews
Our #1 Choice – Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity Auto Glass Cleaner
A trusted classic which tackles tough, built-on grime like sap, bugs and hard water spots on auto glass.
- Trusted Meguair’s product
- Removes tough stains including hard water stains on auto glass
- Streak-free formula
- Highly perfumed, slightly synthetic smell
Just about every mechanic has relied on Meguair’s Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner to clean their auto glass and mirrors. The unique formula quickly wipes away bugs, tree sap, cigarette smoke film, bird droppings, and more. It’s especially effective against hard water stains.
The professional-strength formula leaves behind practically no streaks or haze. It’s also safe for use on tinted auto glass. The spray bottle contains 24 ounces.
Our #2 Choice – Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner
Invisible Glass has a streak and haze-free formula which leaves your glass so clean you’ll think it’s invisible.
- The formula contains no soap, dyes or additives
- Leaves behind no streaks or window haze on auto glass
- Includes two 22-ounce spray bottles
- Fumes are strong
As the company says, “Stop cleaning up after your window cleaner.” If streaks and haze are a problem with your current cleaner, Invisible Glass has the cure. Their unique formula contains no soap, dyes or other streak-causing additives. The formula is safe for use on tinted windows.
It removes all types of dirt but excels at eliminating interior issues such as fingerprints, smudges, grease, and cigarette haze. The set includes a pair of 22-ounce spray bottles.
However, the spray does contain strong fumes. Keep all vehicle doors open and only use in a well-ventilated area. Avoid use inside the home.
Our #3 Choice – Shine Society All-Natural Glass and Window Cleaner
Shine Society’s all-natural formula cleans without streaking and is safe for both tinted and non-tinted windows.
- All-natural, sustainable formula
- Safe for use around kids and pets
- Eliminates germs and bacteria
- Trigger on the spray bottle can stick
- Preventing streaks requires proper cloth technique
Shine Society membership has its privileges! Their all-natural formula removes streaks, smudges, dirt, grime and more. Made from sustainable ingredients, it’s safe for use around kids and pets.
Aside from cleaning your windows, the spray disinfects them, too. It effectively eliminates up to 99.99% of all germs and bacteria.
Sick of streaks? This is the formula for you. It doesn’t leave streaks behind after use. Plus, it even removes existing streaks left behind by other products!
Our #4 Choice – Chemical Guys Signature Series Glass Cleaner
A non-toxic, ammonia-free formula which is safe on windows, mirrors and even interior electronics.
- Safe for automotive glass and electronics
- Non-toxic, ammonia-free
- No harsh smell
- Can leave streaks (use a clean rag to wipe away)
The Chemical Guys have created one of the safest formulas available with their Signature Series Glass Cleaner. It’s safe for not just windows and mirrors but also electronics like console screens and dashboard screens. You can also use it inside to clean computer and TV screens.
It’s non-toxic and ammonia-free so you can safely use it around pets and kids. With no harsh smell, it’s a great option for cleaning the inside of your vehicle. Plus, it’s safe for use on tinted windows.
But don’t let its seemingly gentle formula fool you. The cleaner is strong enough to remove dirt, bugs, and stubborn road grime. It’s even suitable for professional use.
Our #5 Choice – Adam’s New Glass Cleaner
Formulated for both factory and aftermarket windows, Adam’s New Glass Cleaner not only cleans but also clarifies.
- Designed for aftermarket effects like tint
- Simply spray once and wipe away
- Optical clarifiers improve visibility
- Ammonia-free, eco-friendly formula
- The spray bottle nozzle can be loose
- Not great at removing grease
If you have tinted windows or other aftermarket automotive glass effects, you can’t trust just any cleaner. But you can trust Adam’s New Glass Cleaner. It’s formulated for use on aftermarket tints and other effects.
Plus, it’s easy to use. Simply spray then wipe. It won’t leave behind streaks or haze. Unique optical clarifiers add a crispness to the automotive glass, which helps improve visibility.
The formula is ammonia-free and eco-friendly. It has a fresh, subdued scent. Plus, Adam’s Polishes (the manufacturer) offers a 110% satisfaction guarantee.
Our #6 Choice – Driven Extreme Duty Glass Cleaner
A heavy-duty glass cleaning gel designed to baked-on build-up, hard water stains, and other tough jobs.
- A tough cleanser for baked-on stains
- Removes hard water, lime scale, sea spray and more
- Gel formula allows for easy application
- Hard scrubbing can potentially scratch automotive glass
Driven Extreme’s glass cleaner is one of the toughest, strongest cleaners available. It’s perfect for hard water stains and etched-in grime. It also effectively removes minerals, calcium, limescale, salt spray, and even rust.
The formula includes acid gel, industrial-strength cleaners, and a unique blend of Extreme Cutting Abrasives. Keep in mind that, because the product is an abrasive gel, you don’t want to scrub as hard as you would with a spray; otherwise you can accidentally scratch the glass.
Our #7 Choice – 3M Glass Cleaner
A no-drop foaming cleaner which cleans multiple surfaces quickly and easily from trusted car care gurus 3M.
- Unique foam formula
- Precise aerosol spray
- Safe to use for paint, metal, and plastic
- Strong smell
- Can be streaky
As you’re probably expecting from 3M, there’s nothing else quite like this car window cleaner. It’s a foaming formula which defies gravity by clinging to vertical surfaces. You can clean carefully instead of racing the runoff to the bottom of the window.
You don’t have to worry about overspray because the cleaner is safe to use on plastic, chrome, paint, and metal. Plus, the aerosol can applicator allows for precise control when spraying.
Our #8 Choice – Rain-X Glass Cleaner and Rain Repellant
Rain-X’s two-in-one formula not only cleans glass but also creates a rain barrier with no buffing required.
- Streak-free glass cleaner
- Rain repellent lasts for several weeks
- Helps remove snow, ice, dirt and more
- Specific ingredients not listed on the spray bottle
- More effective as rain repellant than cleaner
Rain is a major cause of window streaking and hazing. But Rain-X’s special formula causes rain to bead up and roll away, increasing your visibility even in heavy downpours. Just one application lasts for several weeks. It also helps remove sleet, snow, ice, and more.
Additionally, Rain-X is also an effective window cleaner. Spray on and wipe away for a “just buffed” appearance. The formula is streak-free.
Our #9 Choice – Hollywood’s Diamond Clear Glass Cleaner
See the road in a whole way with Hollywood Diamond’s professional-grade, streak-free formula for crystal clear results.
- Improves windshield clarity
- Ammonia-free formula
- Won’t streak or haze
- The manufacturer is relatively unknown
Hollywood’s Diamond Clear has an enhanced glass cleaner which not only removes dirt but also adds a diamond-like sparkle finish for crystal clear, near-invisible glass. It’s streak and ammonia-free.
Accidental overspray is not a problem. The formula is safe to use on tinted windows, glass, chrome, stainless steel, and aftermarket additions.
Our #10 Choice – TriNova Premium Glass Cleaner
Increase your visibility behind the wheel with TriNova’s powerful, streak-free cleaner.
- Streak-free formula
- Removes windshield streaks, bugs and more
- Easy spray on, wipe off operation
- The spray bottle nozzle can break easily
Safe for practically any glass surfaces, TriNova’s glass cleaner uses a high-quality formula to remove dirt, grease, grime, bugs and more. It leaves behind no streaks or residue. Additionally, the cleaner is effective at removing existing windshield streaks.
It’s simple to use. Spray a liberal amount directly onto the glass surface or a clean cloth. Work the cleaner into the glass surface then wipe away any excess. Just one pass is usually enough to remove even stubborn, caked-on gunk.
Why Should I Use Car Window Cleaner?
Car window cleaner is specifically formulated for use on, you guessed it, all the glass for your car. It won’t scratch or otherwise damage your windows. It also won’t streak (well, ideally, at least).
Car window cleaner is for cleaning windshields (obviously), the rearview mirror and the side mirrors. It’s not ideal for cleaning headlights; there’s a different cleaner for that, as well as headlight restoration kits. Never use window cleaner on your car’s paint, upholstery or anything besides windows and mirrors.
Along these same lines, only use car window cleaner on your car’s windows and mirrors. Never use car wash soap, dish soap, car seat cleaners, or household cleaners. They’ll likely streak or cloud glass surfaces – and can even scratch it severely!
Household glass cleaner is an exception. It can be safe to use on your car’s glass surfaces. However, household glass cleaners (like Windex) often contain ammonia, which may or may not be what you want.
Should Window Cleaner Contain Ammonia?
Glass cleaners either have ammonia or are ammonia-free. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
Ammonia-based cleaners are the toughest type. They’ll remove built-up, caked-on grime. However, they can’t be used on all types of windows.
Never use an ammonia glass cleaner on tinted windows. It’ll dull the tint and, if used often enough, slowly remove it altogether.
Also, ammonia cleaners can dry out rubber, plastic, leather, and vinyl. Even though you won’t be spraying cleaner on any of those materials directly, be careful with overspray.
Be careful when using ammonia inside your vehicle. Ammonia fumes can burn your ears, nose, and throat even at low levels. At high levels, especially in a closed area like a car, exposure to ammonia fumes can cause respiratory distress and other serious problems.
Why is Window Cleaner Different from Other Types of Cleaners?
You’ve read all about the types of products you shouldn’t use on your windows. But what makes car window cleaner so special, anyway? It has three important features which differentiate it from other cleaners:
Many cleaners, including those used on your car’s paint, can have a coarse consistency which helps remove dirt and grime. Now, this doesn’t mean the cleaners feel like sand. It’s “coarse” on a teeny-tiny, microscopic level which won’t damage the car’s paint, upholstery, etc.
But glass is often far more sensitive to damage. Cleaners which are gentle enough for other parts of your car can scratch up your windshields and mirrors. Car window cleaners are specially formulated to avoid scratching glass surfaces even with hard scrubbing.
Long, blurry streaks can be caused by a poor-quality cleaner, lack of proper towel technique, or both. Water is probably the streakiest liquid you can use. Car window cleaner is formulated to avoid streaks (and we’ll go over glass cleaning techniques which help avoid streaks in just a few).
Haze is that cloudy fog which can build up on your windows. It’s often subtle but widespread. Haze is usually caused by using the wrong type of cleaner on glass. However, it’s not always intentional. Overspray from dashboard cleaners like Armor All is a common cause of front windshield haze.
Car window cleaner doesn’t only help prevent haze, but it can also remove existing haze build-up.
How Do I Clean My Car Windows?
Keeping your car windows clean involves using:
- The right cleaner
- The right techniques
We’ve covered how to select the right cleaner above. Let’s now take a look at the most efficient and effective way to clean your car windows inside and out:
Gather Your Cleaning Supplies
Here’s what you need:
Car Window Cleaner
You’ve already got this covered. Let us know your favorite in the comments.
Plastic is best. Metal buckets can corrode and release tiny bits of metal into the water. Note that you might need two buckets:
A clean water bucket
A water bucket to mix concentrated cleaner
Spray bottle cleaners are usually the easier option, but concentrated cleaners can be an economical choice. If using a concentrated cleaner, be sure to follow the dilution instructions carefully! A formula which is too strong can damage your windows or stain your interior or exterior.
When cleaning your windows, you have two options: mitts or cloths. While mitts will work, cloths are usually considered the better choice. Windshields have tiny corners, slopes, and angles. A cloth allows you more flexibility for the sometimes-awkward surface areas.
Only use a microfiber towel. Microfiber is a man-made fiber known for its strength and small, dense weave. It captures germs, uses water and chemicals effectively, and a microfiber towel won’t scratch glass.
At the very least, you’ll want two cloths. Use one to apply the spray then the other to wipe it away. For the best results, use a pair of clean cloths for every section of your car (front windshield, right side, left side, rear windshield). Using clean cloths helps prevent cross-contamination, streaks, and scratches.
You’ve gathered up your supplies. Now it’s time to clean your windows!
Park Your Car in the Shade
Keep your windows out of direct sunlight when washing them. Cars absorb heat fast. The cleaning agent will dry too quickly if the car is hot. Wait until your car is cool to the touch before cleaning the windows.
Generally, warmer days are ideal for cleaning your windshield. Mild, warm air helps the spray evaporate after a reasonable time. Cold temperatures are unlikely to freeze the spray, but it can increase the likelihood of streaks.
You don’t have to wash your entire car before cleaning the windows. However, if you’re doing both at the same time, wash your car first. Cleaning the windows should be the last step in the car wash. You’ll likely smudge and streak up your windows when washing the paint. Washing your windows last removes any car wash soap.
Before using the spray, use a clean cloth to wipe away any dry debris such as leaves or pollen which may have gathered on your windshield.
Clean the Interior First
Truthfully, this isn’t the most important car care rule in the world, but cleaning the interior windows before the exterior is usually the best order.
When you clean the exterior windows, your car doors are closed. Spray can’t enter your car. But when cleaning the interior, your doors should be open, to avoid excessive exposure to fumes. However, with the doors open, spray can splatter out onto the top of the exterior windshields.
Sit in the passenger seat to clean the inside front windshield. Otherwise, you have to work around the steering wheel.
Clean the Glass
When cleaning interior windows, spray the cleaner directly onto a cloth. Generally, you want to dampen the rag but not oversaturate it.
When cleaning exterior windows, spray the cleaner directly onto the glass. You can apply spray far more liberally outside as any excess will evaporate. However, avoid spraying the cleaner onto the car’s paint (although minor overspray usually isn’t harmful).
Place the towel in the back of your hand. It allows you to apply steady pressure to help prevent streaks naturally. It might feel a bit weird at first – and you can still hold the cloth normally when you want – but the backhand method cleans large areas quickly.
Clean in different directions. For example, wipe the interior glass up and down and wipe the exterior glass side to side. The cross-section strategy makes smudges and missed spots easy to see.
Give each window at least two passes. First, wipe the glass with spray using one cloth. Then use a second, clean cloth to wipe up any cleaner.
Remember: there’s no need to rush. For some reason, people often think they need to clean glass as fast as possible. But rushing the job increases the chances of streaks.
Clean the Front and Rear Windows
Their unique shape and large size make the front and rear windshields usually the hardest to clean. Don’t spray too much cleanser at one time. You’ll end up racing to wipe it all up before it evaporates. Instead, divide your windshield into four and clean it one quadrant at a time.
Clean the Tops of the Windows
Almost nobody cleans the tops of their side windows – but they should! If you’ve never done this before, the amount of gunk you remove can be substantial.
Roll your side windows down. Spray the top of the window with cleaner then wipe with your clean cloth. Naturally, dirt will likely run down the sides of the window, so clean the top part first.
Roll the window up and then back down. It’ll likely pick up dirt from inside the frame. You can repeat this a few times if the window top continues to be dirty.
When you’ve finished cleaning the side windows, finish up by spraying and wiping your side mirrors. Clean every part of the mirror. If you have an electronic mirror, turn your car on and use the inside controls to adjust the mirror. Moving it manually is usually fine, but there can be a slight risk of damage.
Clean the Wiper Blades
Don’t forget about your wiper blades. They can be cleaned with window cleaner. Spray some cleaner onto the wipers then run a clean cloth down the length of the blade.
Buildup on your wipers can cause streaks. Plus, it can wear down the rubber on the blades. After cleaning, apply a wiper treatment to help keep the blades in great condition.
How Do I Remove Dead Bugs?
Bug guts are one of the most common and stubborn types of grime. If regular cleaning can’t remove dried-on bug splatter, there are a few tricks you can try.
First, soak the bug in cleaner. Then soak a cloth in cleaner. Press the cloth against the stain for a minute or two.
If that doesn’t loosen the bug, try sprinkling a bit of baking soda. After letting it sit for a minute or so, try to remove the stain with your cloth. Repeat as necessary.
Never use a removal method involving extreme temperatures. You can find “advice” on the internet explaining how fire or ice can remove stubborn stains from your windshield. However, these methods are far more likely to damage the glass than help keep it clean.
How Do I Remove Hard Water Buildup?
Hard water buildup is another common problem. Hard water is water with a large number of minerals such as calcium, lime, and magnesium. Also called limescale, hard water spots are the crusty buildup left behind when hard water dries.
Hard water can fall from the ground or spray from your garden hose. Some areas are more susceptible to it than others. Removing hard water buildup typically requires an acidic cleaner. Look for cleaners with phosphoric, sulfuric and hydrochloric acid. Keep in mind these cleaners are toxic so you’ll want to work in an open area while wearing gloves and eye protection.
How Often Should I Clean My Windshield?
Windshields can be deceptively dirty. Road grime builds up slowly over time, which makes it hard to notice. You might be driving around with a filthy windshield and not even realize it.
Generally, you want to clean your car and windshield every two weeks or so. Keeping your windows clean improves visibility, which improves your overall safety on the road.
However, avoid cleaning your windshield with the squeegees at your local gas station. They’re used constantly all day long. Both the squeegee and water are normally filled with dirt, rocks, and grime. Cleaning your windshield at home, with your own gear, delivers the best results.
Aside from regular windshield cleanings, you’ll also want to clean your windshield before any road trips or other long rides. Bring along cleaning spray and rags so you can keep all the windows clean without having to use the gear at the gas station.