The Best Streak-Free Glass Cleaners for Your Home

Get windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces bright and shiny with a clear formulation that fits your lifestyle and household needs.

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The Best Glass Cleaner Options for Windows

Photo: istockphoto.com

Cleaning glass is an easy housekeeping chore to skip—until suddenly, all you see are streaks of grime, islands of dust, and dirty fingerprints. Don’t let things go that far. Regularly wiping down windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces gives your home a polished, well-cared-for look.

Though some might prefer to make their own glass cleaner, many people turn to the convenience of buying it ready to use. There are many formulas, ingredients, and uses that can make choosing a solution trickier than you might expect. Use the guide below to navigate the options and select the best glass cleaner for you.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Sprayway Glass Cleaner Aerosol Spray
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Windex Vinegar Multi-Surface Spray Glass Cleaner
  3. BEST FOR VEHICLES: Invisible Glass 92164-2PK Premium Glass Cleaner
  4. BEST WIPES: MiracleWipes for Glass, Streak Free Cleaning
  5. BEST FOR SHOWER DOORS: Bring It On Cleaner Glass Shower Door Cleaner
  6. BEST FOR STOVETOPS: Weiman Cook Top Daily Cleaner for Glass, Induction
  7. BEST FOR MIRRORS: MiracleSpray for Glass Includes Microfiber Towel
  8. BEST MULTISURFACE: Funk, A J & Co Sparkle Commercial Glass Cleaner
  9. BEST NATURAL: Better Life Natural Streak Free Glass Cleaner
The Best Glass Cleaner for the Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

Clearing Up Glass Cleaner Confusion

Glass cleaner might not seem like the most complex product, but it helps to consider a few things when buying one. Available in various forms with a variety of ingredients, both chemical and natural, glass cleaners mostly involve choosing a product that’s effective and easy to use.

Liquid, Foam, and Wipes

Glass cleaner comes in three basic formats, each with their own pros and cons.

  • Liquid glass cleaner is the most familiar type and the handiest for everyday use around the home. Most liquid glass cleaners come in spray bottles, although a few are packaged in aerosol cans. Some attach to a garden hose for cleaning outdoor windows. To prevent the liquid cleaner from running down vertical glass surfaces and dripping onto the furniture or floor underneath, it’s best to mist these cleaners onto a cleaning cloth, preferably microfiber, which won’t leave lint on the glass. Then, wipe the glass with the cloth for a streak-free and mess-free experience.
  • Foam glass cleaners, usually in aerosol cans, often make up extra-strength products designed to effectively tackle the toughest stains and glass grunge, such as bird droppings on car windows, watermarks on shower doors, and dried toothpaste globs on bathroom mirrors. Because foam clings, there’s less worry about cleaner dripping down surfaces, which allows you to spray the product directly onto the glass and then wipe with a microfiber cloth.
  • Glass cleaning wipes are use-and-toss products that make light household cleaning a snap. Though convenient for quick touch-ups, they generally work less effectively than liquid or foam cleaners for greasy, sticky, or thick messes. Wipes also tend to leave more streaks and can dry out quickly if a user fails to reseal the package correctly after use.

Active Ingredients

Most commercial glass cleaners have a fairly lengthy list of chemical ingredients with various functions, but for most consumers, these products fall into one of two general camps: those with alcohol or ammonia as their main active ingredient and those with gentler, “greener” active ingredients.

Ammonia

Ammonia is one of the most common and inexpensive active ingredients in traditional window cleaner, because it effectively cuts through grease, dirt, fingerprints, dried cooking spills, and other typical glass grunge while also killing some germs. It even evaporates quickly, leaving behind a streak-free surface.

The downside? Ammonia can irritate the respiratory system, skin, eyes, and throat. Using an ammonia-based cleaner in a small, closed space such as a bathroom can lead to coughing and discomfort in the throat and chest. Breathing in large quantities of ammonia can lead to chemical pneumonia.

Spilled on skin, ammonia can cause chemical burns, and a splash in the eyes potentially can blind a person. Still, for most people without existing respiratory sensitivities, use of ammonia-based glass cleaners as directed and with good ventilation (open windows and doors with nearby fans on) is unlikely to do any harm.

Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol (IPA), more commonly called rubbing alcohol, is another common active ingredient found in window cleaner. Like ammonia, it effectively cuts through grease and other tough grunge, evaporates extremely quickly, and kills many types of germs.

Although isopropyl alcohol likely will not cause harm if used correctly and with proper ventilation, it is potentially toxic if consumed, sprayed into the eyes, or spilled in large quantities onto the skin, where it quickly absorbs and can cause symptoms such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, slowed breathing, confusion, and nausea.

Other Active Ingredients

  • Cleaning agent glass cleaners, designed to break down components like grease or hard water deposits, are formulated for specific jobs. Solvents, such as ethylene glycol monobutyl (EB), are found in cleaners designed for use on glass induction stovetops because they dissolve greasy splatters. Likewise, glass cleaners intended for shower doors contain ingredients that dissolve soap scum and remove water spots.
  • White vinegar is perhaps the most common active ingredient in natural commercial glass cleaners and also homemade window cleaners. Vinegar effectively cuts through grease and grime, and although it doesn’t have a pleasant smell, it’s not likely to irritate the respiratory system, eyes, or skin the way ammonia and alcohol can. Because vinegar evaporates fairly quickly, it leaves a mostly streak-free finish. And while not as powerful as ammonia and alcohol, vinegar has mild antibacterial properties to kill germs on surfaces.
  • A variety of plant-based active ingredients, such as thyme, eucalyptus, pine, and mint, may go into today’s totally nontoxic and sometimes pleasant-smelling household glass cleaners. Generally sufficient for general cleaning around the house, they often aren’t as tough on grease, dried toothpaste, and other heavy-duty grunge. And their antibacterial abilities are less when compared to other types of cleaners.

Specialty Glass Cleaners

Be aware, some surfaces require specialty glass cleaners. Any type of glass cleaner is safe to use on untinted windows, mirrors, glass shelves and tables, glass shower doors, and tile, but some surfaces call for specially formulated cleaners.

  • Because today’s electronics have screens made of multiple layers of very thin plastics and adhesives, not glass, they are susceptible to damage from cleaning products containing alcohol or ammonia, which can cause haze or discoloration. Only use cleaners that specifically indicate they are safe for eliminating dust and fingerprints from televisions, computers, phones, and other delicate electronics.
  • While regular glass cleaner will work on the insides of untinted automobile windows, if you’re battling bird droppings, heavy layers of dust, pollen, mud, or sticky tree sap on the exterior glass surface, you’ll get better results with a cleaner specifically formulated for tough messes common to windshields.
  • To reduce elbow grease when cleaning the outside of your home’s windows, choose a glass cleaner in a spray bottle that attaches to your outdoor hose, allowing you to spray the glass quickly and evenly and then rinse away the grime with no need for scrubbing.
  • For tinted windows, choose an ammonia-free glass cleaner, as ammonia can discolor tints. These products are also safe for chrome, stainless steel, plastic, vinyl, and sealed tile.
  • If you have UV-resistant film on your home’s windows, check the manufacturer’s guidelines before reaching for a cleaning product, as these films can be damaged by vinegar, ammonia, and other chemicals often found in commercial cleaning products.

Our Top Picks

With those shopping considerations in mind, choose a glass cleaner from among these recommendations that will best suit your needs. The best glass cleaner should clean glass surfaces with a minimum of scrubbing, leave a streak-free finish and, in the case of multisurface glass cleaners, effectively clean and shine other nonporous surfaces as well.

Best Overall

The Best Glass Cleaner Option: Sprayway Glass Cleaner Aerosol Spray
Photo: amazon.com

This versatile foaming aerosol glass cleaner, with the active ingredient 2-Butoxyethanol, is great on mirrors and windows and also shines up stainless steel, chrome, tile, porcelain, enamel, manufacturer-tinted windows, stone countertops, and greasy stove hoods. The thick foam clings to vertical surfaces, so there are no puddles or drips to worry about when cleaning the refrigerator door, living room windows, or bathroom mirror. Sprayway glass cleaner is powerful, multipurpose, and inexpensive, making it great for both professional and at-home use. This aerosol formula comes in a two-pack, each with 19 ounces of cleaner.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Glass Cleaner Option: Windex Vinegar Multi-Surface Spray Glass Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Open the curtains and let the sun shine in without worrying about dirty windows with Windex’s Multi-Surface Glass Cleaner. This vinegar-based cleaner leaves a streak-free shine on windows, mirrors, and appliances, and it comes at an attractive price point. In conjunction with Windex’s goal of reducing landfill waste, the plastic bottle that holds this multisurface cleaner is made from 100 percent recycled plastic. This eco-friendly cleaner doesn’t contain ammonia, so there’s no lingering chemical odor. While this Windex Vinegar cleaner works like a charm to remove smudges and fingerprints from glass, it can also safely clean television and monitor screens as well as many other surfaces, so users can buy one product rather than needing to purchase many.

Best for Vehicles

The Best Glass Cleaner Option: Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Car windows get hit by bird droppings, squashed bugs, dirty handprints, pollen, dust, debris, drippings from trees, and more. All that grime not only looks bad but also reduces visibility, causing a major safety hazard. To the rescue: Invisible Glass. This no-ammonia glass cleaner is formulated specifically to remove tough messes from car windows, including tinted ones. This product comes in a two-pack, with each spray bottle holding 22 ounces of cleaner.

Best Wipes

The Best Glass Cleaner Option: MiracleWipes for Glass, Streak Free Cleaning
Photo: amazon.com

Reach for these convenient MiracleWipes whenever you need a quick touch-up-and-toss on glass, mirrors, sealed stone countertops, toilets and bathroom sinks, shower doors, stainless steel, chrome, and many other household surfaces. The wipes, which are ammonia-free, remove fingerprints and other glass grunge fairly effectively and are perfect for storing in the car to wipe away your dog’s nose prints from a window after an outing. Overall, for versatility and convenience, MiracleWipes are top-notch, and they won’t irritate skin. Buyers will receive a resealable container with 30 wipes and a microfiber towel for buffing glass to a high shine after cleaning.

Best for Shower Doors

The Best Glass Cleaner Option: Bring It On Cleaner Glass Shower Door Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Glass shower doors are notorious for becoming cloudy with soap scum or hard water deposits, but Bring It On Cleaner for shower doors is tough enough to cut through the haze. With the addition of oxygenated bleach, this high-powered cleaner dissolves hard water deposits and leaves glass clean and clear. It also works to remove accumulated stains on tile, grout, and faucets, giving the entire shower or tub a fresh new look. With frequent use, this cleaner can keep grime and hard water deposits from forming in the first place, eliminating the need for heavy scrubbing. Buyers receive a 16-ounce bottle of Bring It On cleaner and four rugged nylon scrubbing pads that attach to a standard drill for powering away even hardened-on deposits and stains.

Best for Stovetops

The Best Glass Cleaner Option: Weiman Cook Top Daily Cleaner for Glass, Induction
Photo: amazon.com

Glass and ceramic cooktops are always in vogue because they offer a single flat cooking surface that wipes clean without removing burners or cleaning gunk from tiny nooks and crannies. However, cooking on the stove can leave behind oily and sticky splatters that require a tough but nonabrasive cleaner. For those looking to get a glass cooktop sparkling clean, look no further than Weiman’s Cook Top Daily Cleaner. This spray-on cleaner comes in a 22-ounce bottle and features a formula that dissolves grease and grime without scratching or marring the delicate glass surface. For the best results, give the induction range a quick spritz with Weiman’s cooktop cleaner after every use and wipe away with the soft, microfiber rag that comes with this purchase.

Best for Mirrors

The Best Glass Cleaner Option: MiracleSpray for Glass Includes Microfiber Towel
Photo: amazon.com

Enjoy a smudge-free reflection when applying makeup or just admiring a new outfit in the mirror when using MiracleSpray for Glass. MiracleSpray comes in a 16-ounce spray bottle, and buyers receive a microfiber towel to get them started buffing those mirrors to a streak-free shine. The glass cleaner removes fingerprints, smudges, grease, and more. It’s made to dissolve residue at a molecular level, so it wipes away with ease. Use the glass cleaner to shine up more than mirrors; it’s suitable for cleaning windows, light fixtures, reading glasses, and shower doors, in addition to giving appliances a clean, fresh shine.

Best Multisurface

The Best Glass Cleaner Option: Funk, A J & Co Sparkle Commercial Glass Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Remove fingerprints from stainless steel appliances and leave a clear, streak-free shine on windows and mirrors with Sparkle Commercial Glass Cleaner. This product, which comes as a purple liquid in a 33.8-ounce spray bottle, also includes a 1-gallon refill bottle. Sparkle rapidly dissolves spots and quickly dries without smearing or streaking, for cleaning virtually all nonporous surfaces in the home. Plus, Sparkle is ammonia-free, so it’s safe to use on computer, phone, and tablet screens. This is one glass cleaner that lives up to its name, leaving a sparkling clean finish on glass and other surfaces.

Best Natural

The Best Glass Cleaner Option: Better Life Natural Streak Free Glass Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

With Better Life Natural Glass Cleaner, users can feel good about cleaning windows and mirrors. Better Life contains no alcohol, solvents, dyes, or synthetic fragrances. Instead, it’s made from plant-derived cleaning agents extracted from coconut, corn, and palm kernel, so it’s safe to use around pets and children, and it won’t harm the environment. Better Life is a powerful cleaner, even without chemicals, designed to remove smudges and residue from mirrors, windows, light fixtures, and more. The makers of Better Life Glass Cleaner intend to provide a healthier solution to chemical cleaners while still providing a quality product. Buyers receive two 32-ounce spray bottles with an order.

FAQs about Glass Cleaners

Glass cleaners remove smudges and debris that can cloud windows and mirrors without streaking, but they’re not all created equal. Some contain chemicals, while others feature only natural ingredients, and most are well suited to cleaning other nonporous items in the home. For those who want the cleanest, freshest shine, some questions are to be expected.

Q: What is the best glass cleaner?

The best glass cleaner can vary depending on its intended use—the cleaner for a glass cooktop isn’t the best choice for a mirror. For general glass cleaning, however, the best overall option in the above lineup is Sprayway Glass Cleaner Aerosol Spray, a versatile foaming aerosol glass cleaner that works on mirrors and windows and also shines up stainless steel, chrome, tile, porcelain, enamel, manufacturer-tinted windows, stone countertops, and greasy stove hoods.

Q: What do professional window cleaners use to clean windows?

Professional window cleaners use a variety of cleaning solutions, and the Sparkle Commercial Cleaner pick is a frequent choice. Professionals clean windows a bit differently, though; they spray the cleaner on the window and then use a razor scraper to remove every last trace of haze or residue before wiping the glass to a nearly perfect shine.

Q: What is the best thing to clean windows with?

For a streak-free surface, spray windows with a good-quality glass cleaner and then wipe until dry with a clean, soft cloth. Microfiber towels work well for buffing windows to a spotless shine, and the pros sometimes use newspapers as well.

Final Thoughts

A single smudge on an otherwise clean window draws the eye and makes the entire window look dirty. All-purpose household cleaners aren’t the best option for cleaning glass because they often leave streaks or a film behind. Ironically, glass cleaners often cross over as appliance cleaners. One thing is sure: Crystal clear windows, mirrors, and light fixtures make a house feel fresh and clean, so a bottle of quality glass cleaner belongs in every home.