This is the Best Way to Clean Car Windows

Follow these steps to get a streak-free shine on the inside and outside of your car windows.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
best way to clean car windows

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Knowing the best way to clean car windows is important for safe driving. Improper cleaning can leave behind unsightly streaks that can make it difficult to see out of your vehicle’s windows, particularly at night.

Sparkling clean car windows is something anyone can achieve with the proper tools and technique. Using the below method, your car windows will be spotless and ready for (almost) anything the road has to throw at them.

Project Overview

Working Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $0 to $20

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Before you clean the windows, clean the rest of your car’s exterior and interior. Waiting to clean these other surfaces until after the windows are clean creates an opportunity for new dust and debris to deposit onto the glass, undoing much of your hard work.

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STEP 1: Remove dust and debris from the car’s exterior windows.

The first step for how to clean car windows is to start with the window exteriors. If leaves, twigs, or other debris have accumulated along the windshield wipers or weather stripping, use a vacuum with a hose attachment or your hands to remove them.

After the larger debris is gone, use a dry rag or microfiber cloth to remove as much loose grime from the surface of each window as possible. Completing this step is crucial before moving on to using glass cleaner. Otherwise, you may simply rub all of the pollen and gunk around on the windows and end up with unpleasant streaks.

STEP 2: Spray one window at a time with car window cleaner and wipe them clean with a microfiber cloth.

best way to clean car windows

After you’ve removed loose debris and a layer of pollen and other grime from the window, apply an auto glass cleaner spray to the window. Only spray one window at a time to ensure that the spray doesn’t drip down or dry before you get a chance to clean the window, and don’t apply more glass cleaner than is needed to avoid streaks.

Use a microfiber towel and a little bit of elbow grease to wipe down each window immediately after spraying it. Use an up-and-down motion as you clean; rubbing in circles is more likely to leave behind streaks. If you come across any hard-to-remove stains, such as bird droppings or dead bugs, you may have to apply a little more pressure when rubbing. Spraying the spot directly and letting the cleaner sit for a few minutes before wiping can also help to loosen gunk.

If you come across any small chips or cracks you initially thought were stains, a windshield repair kit can help minimize the appearance of the crack and protect your windshield from further damage.

STEP 3: Buff the windows with a dry microfiber cloth.

Next, grab a clean, dry microfiber cloth. Use the cloth to buff the finish by wiping it over each window to remove any remaining cleaning solution or grime. This will ensure that the exterior of the window is left completely clean and streak-free.

Alternatively, you can use a window squeegee for this step. However, unless you have already perfected your squeegee technique, doing so may leave streaks on your windows and add extra frustration as you work compared to using a microfiber.

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STEP 4: Wipe the interior windows with a dry microfiber cloth.

Cleaning interior car windows

The best way to clean inside car windows follows a similar process to the above method for cleaning the exterior of the windows. Begin by using a clean, dry microfiber cloth to wipe down the inside of each window. Use the same up-and-down motion that you used to clean the exterior of the windows.

It may be tempting to cut straight to the glass cleaner, but don’t skip over this step. It helps to remove the thin layer of dust and debris that collect on the inside of car windows and prevents streaks.

STEP 5: Spray car windshield cleaner on a microfiber cloth and work from top to bottom to clean each window.

Spray your windshield cleaner or homemade window cleaner directly onto a clean microfiber cloth (rather than directly onto the windows). You’ll only need a few sprays at a time; too much cleaner can cause streaks. The best way to clean inside a windshield is to use an ammonia-free cleaner. Ammonia-based cleaners release toxic fumes and can cause damage to other surfaces in your car’s interior, such as the dashboard.

After spraying the cloth with car window cleaner, start at the top of each window and work your way down to the bottom. When you’re cleaning your front windshield, reaching the top or bottom corners can be challenging. An extendable window cleaning tool can help you reach these areas.

STEP 6: Use a clean microfiber cloth to dry the windows.

Hand cleaning inside of car window with a microfiber cloth

Using a clean microfiber cloth, dry the glass. Again, working from top to bottom is the best way to ensure a streak-free finish. You may need to repeat the steps outlined above if any grime or gunk remains on the windows.

Final Thoughts

With the proper tools and a little bit of time, cleaning car windows is a task that most people can complete at home. Now that you know the best way to clean car windows without streaks, you can make your vehicle’s glass sparkle and shine whenever you like. Remember: Always use a car glass cleaner without ammonia, as ammonia releases toxic fumes that can damage vinyl, leather, rubber, or other surfaces in your car’s interior.

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