Anyone can clean, but cleaning the car windows without any streaks is something not everyone can do.
Today, I will give insights into the best way to clean car windows without streaks — the professional way, so you can detail your car windows just like a professional and not let any streaks or stains haunt your windows.
And most importantly, I will warn you about the cleaning solutions that are poison for your car and will damage the exterior; only if I had known this earlier would my bike still have its shine.
I still remember when I was little, I washed my bike using that washing powder for clothes (containing ammonia), and the result was devastating. Never gonna do that again — lesson learned the hard way.
Furthermore, I will give you safe alternatives that you can use and carry out a close-to-a-professional finish and clean the inside car windows — even when you don’t have professional equipment.
Best Way to Clean Car Windows
There are two ways to clean a car window
- The wrong way
- The right way
The wrong way will cause streak marks and water stains. Read more about How To Remove Water Stains From Car Glass.
The right way can also be devastating, as you might hit your head thinking the windows are open when they are actually closed.
So be cautious, as I am going to take you through the whole process of getting your windows so clean that you will have to feel the silky smoothness of the window surface before you take your hands or head out.
What to Use to Clean Car Windows?
After you are done with basic cleaning, here’s what you need for a professional-level finish.
- Automotive glass cleaner
- A set of microfiber cloths (glass specific)
- Clay bar (ultra fine)
- Clay bar Lubricant
- For the best finish, you can use Spray wax — to make the glass hydrophobic (repel water)
In the section below, I will give you more details on the microfiber cloth for car windows. But first, there are some precautions that you need to know.
After letting you know about the precautions, I will let you know how to choose the best cleaners and microfiber cloths so you can clean your car windows without streaks.
Some Important Precautions While Cleaning Your Car Windows
You might have noticed that your car isn’t as shiny as it used to be.
It happens because of the following reasons.
- Prolonged use of highly alkaline cleaning products can cause the exterior to lose its shine. Avoid the ones that contain hydroxide and/or ammonia cleaning agents. Ammonia is especially dangerous for tinted windows.
- Furthermore, the pH level of the cleaner should never exceed 13.
- Even if it’s just surface dust, wiping on a dry dust-covered car destroys the clear coat, scratches your paint, and makes your car look hideous.
I have seen so many people wiping the surface dust off their cars in the morning, don’t do that. Your car will soon lose its shine and have swirl marks all over it. These marks are especially prominent in black cars.
How to Find The Best Cleaning Products for Your Car Windows
There are hundreds of cleaning products available in the market, but not all of them are good for your windows — especially the ammonia ones.
The rule of thumb: The best cleaning solutions are pH neutral, and I would highly recommend the ones that are biodegradable (when it comes to the shampoo you are using) if you don’t have the facility to dispose of the chemicals the correct way.
Those perpendicular streaks visible on your car windows after washing are the aftermath of poor-quality glass cleaners.
A high-quality glass cleaner will remove all the dirt, even from the fine streaks formed when you roll the dirty windows up and down.
What happens is that the rubber seals that hug the glass will retain the dirt and will keep on scratching the glass, causing those streaks.
Now a low-quality cleaner cannot get the dirt out from those streaks, so the best way to clean car windows without streaks is to get a premium-quality glass cleaner.
Here are some of the best glass cleaners for car windows.
How to Find The Best Cleaning Cloth for Car Windows and Avoid Streaks
After the cleaning agent — comes the cleaning cloth.
You should never use low-quality cleaning mitts on your car. It would be best if you always used high-quality microfiber cloths that are specific to cleaning automotive glass windows.
Typically you will see two types of microfiber cloths for your car windows.
- The thin microfiber glass towel (typically the herringbone pattern or diamond weave) — is for applying the glass cleaner and clay bar lubricant.
- A little thicker one with typically a waffle weave — for buffing out the moisture, including lubricant and spray wax.
These glass-specific microfiber cloths should have the following qualities
- short nap
- tightly woven
You need these qualities to prevent those lint particles from making your window detail look unprofessional. So the best way to clean car windows without streaks or lint is to get a set of these two types of microfiber cloths.
Tips to Getting Streak-Free Car Windows Every Time
- It’s best to have a set of different microfiber cloths for each part of your vehicle. You can use different colored ones to avoid mistakenly using the wheel’s microfiber cloth on the windows.
- Note: the microfiber cloth can retain some dirt while you are washing, so make sure not to use the ones previously wiped onto the dirty area, as that dirt can cause scratches on your car windows.
- Similarly, if your wiper blades are worn out, continuous use can lead to rainbow streaks on your windshield as the dirt keeps grinding the glass of your car, so make sure to keep an eye out and replace the wiper blades when necessary.
- Always perform the detailing process under shade or inside the garage. If you do it under direct sunlight, you will have lots of watermarks and not to mention those pesky streaks.
How to Clean Your Car’s Windows (Step by Step) – As Done By Professionals.
So far, you have acquired the basic knowledge of car window detailing, so grab your detailing tools and liquids. It’s time to utilize everything by practically applying what we have learned.
Bad cleaning practices can lead to swirls on your car’s exterior and leave streaks on your car windows, whereas a professional cleaning will never cause swirl marks or streaks/watermarks.
Prep the windows by thoroughly cleaning them with the car shampoo of your choice.
Make sure no visible dust remains on the windows.
For the Side Windows
Spray a good amount of automotive glass cleaner on the window and wipe it with the thinner microfiber cloth in the box method.
What is the box Method?
You wipe the outer sides of the window first as if you are making a box, after which you will wipe it sideways left and right. And in the end, from top to bottom.
Lower down the window, spray the automotive glass cleaner on the microfiber cloth along with the edges of the rolled-down window. Wipe the window edges by pinching the microfiber cloth onto the edge of your car window and roll the window back up.
Buff any remaining moisture by using a clean, dry microfiber cloth — preferably using the box method.
Now, to clean inside car windows — Spray the automotive glass cleaner on the inside, clean it with the thinner microfiber cloth in the box method and buff it out with a clean, dry microfiber cloth (the thicker one).
Repeat Steps 1–4 for all the remaining side windows.
Up to this point, you have accomplished cleaning car windows without streaks. However, you can go a step further and make them practically invisible.
This next phase sets apart the work of professionals.
Spray the clay bar lubricant on the window. Spray it on the clay bar as well and wipe the clay bar on the glass window left and right, starting from the center. On the sides, you can wipe it up and down and make your way through the whole window up and down.
You will hear a rough grinding noise the first time you rub the clay bar on your windows, which is to be expected.
The more you rub the clay bar, the smoother the surface will become, and eventually, you won’t hear any rough grinding noise while rubbing, and the clay bar will slide on the glass with zero effort, which indicates that the clay bar part is complete.
You can use the blade instead of a clay bar. However, I recommend the clay bar method as it’s the best way to clean car windows without streaks, plus. It’s much safer, and you wouldn’t accidentally scratch the glass surface.
You don’t have to perform the clay bar step to clean inside car window — especially when you have a window tint vinyl on the inside.
You can either use a spray wax or solid wax — both are okay. Apply just a little bit of wax in the middle and buff it out by using the thicker version of the microfiber cloth that we have. If you don’t have wax, you can glass polish instead.
Make sure that the cloth is clean and dry. If one of your microfiber cloths falls down, or even touches the surface dust on any of your car components, you must use a different one.
You can make circular motions on the glass while buffing the wax. However, it’s best to keep in linear. Make sure to buff the window thoroughly. Having the dual-action polisher is always a plus.
This is what I call Protective Treatment.
To keep the windows silky smooth and streaks-free for as long as possible, you can use any of the glass coatings/sealants you like — put it in using the thin microfiber cloth and buff it out using the thick microfiber cloth.
Now your car windows are super clean, without any streaks. The cloth would glide on the surface, and water would bead drop away, keeping your windows crystal clear.
The Windshield and the Rear Window
The steps for the windshield and the rear window are about the same, with the only difference in the applying method and extra isopropyl alcohol application on the inside of the windscreen.
On the side windows, we used the box method; however, on the windshield and rear window, we will use the half-and-half method.
What is the half-and-half method?
The half-and-half method is basically the box method but performed twice — first, on one half and then on the other half of the windscreen/rear window.
Steps 1–4 Outside Glass
Spray the glass cleaner on half of the windscreen/rear window glass, and buff it out from top to bottom, going left to right. Similarly, on the other half of the remaining windscreen/window glass and buff it out with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
Do the same Steps 1–4 to clean inside car windows.
To reach the crevices (where the dashboard and the glass meet), you can use the backhand method, where your elbow is kind of facing the windshield, and you are cleaning with the glass with the palm side up.
To make sure you are cleaning car windows without streaks, You can use an easy-to-reach tool with a flexible arm and can reach those tight corners that otherwise would have been difficult to reach on the inside.
It’s also good to use isopropyl alcohol on the inside to get rid of all the oiliness on the inside of the windshield.
Oils from your dashboard and other plastic/rubber components can get accumulated on the windshield and in some proportions on the rear window. A smoker’s car will have a lot of this grease problem on the inside.
Apply the isopropyl alcohol and give it a thorough wipe. Finally, buff it out.
Don’t forget to clean the wiper blades. If they are left dirty, all your hard work will be for nothing. So clean the wiper blades thoroughly.
Spray the clay bar liquid and rub the clay bar from top to bottom, going from left to right. And then on the other half.
After the surface is super smooth, your clay bar should glide on the windscreen/rear window with no effort, which means you can then buff the whole surface with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
Spray the wax from top to bottom on one half, going from left to right. And then on the other half. Let it stay for a while (if it’s the solid wax), and buff it out. Make sure no residue is left at the corners after buffing it out.
Put a glass coating for the final step — and buff it out, using the half-and-half method.
Other Ways to Clean Car Windows
So let’s say that you don’t have the liberty of going to the store and getting the glass cleaning stuff
So is there a way to clean the car windows without streaks in this scenario?
Luckily, there is, or should I say, there are.
In the section below, I will let you know about the materials that are used in everyday life, which can also be used as an alternative for cleaning your car windows.
1. Homemade Glass Cleaner
Take one cup of isopropyl alcohol and mix it in one cup of distilled water with a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar; voila, you have a homemade glass cleaner right there.
Pour it into a spray bottle, and you are good to go.
2. Steam Cleaning
Steam cleaning can be very effective on car glass where some gunk/debris is stuck. If you try to wipe the gunk off the surface, you might scratch the glass, which is when the steam method comes in. the steam can loosen the sticky mass and let it come off easily without scratching the surface.
3. Cleaning with Distilled Water
Distilled water might not be available to everyone. However, it’s a perfect ingredient for a homemade glass cleaner.
Using just distilled water alone won’t make much difference compared to regular water. However, regular water is more likely to cause whitening of the glass since it contains calcium and magnesium.
4. Cleaning Car Windows With Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol is an excellent remedy for the oil and haze that covers the car windows, especially the inside of the windshield. If the oil is not properly removed, you will see water stains and streaks all over the windshield.
So, 70% isopropyl alcohol is the best way to clean car windows without streaks on the inside, as it will get rid of the oily mess layered on your windshield.
Vinegar is a great ingredient for homemade glass cleaner. However, it’s best not to use it as the sole glass cleaner. It should be used mixed with distilled water in equal proportions.
Half vinegar and half water can be a great glass cleaner. You can also add a few drops of fragrance oil to eliminate the strong vinegar smell.
What is the best thing to clean car windows with?
The best thing to clean car windows is a dedicated automotive-grade (ammonia-free) glass cleaner. However, a simple automotive glass cleaner might not give you a streak-free finish, and there are a lot of things that you need to keep in mind. I have covered each and every detail down below.
What is the best way to clean car windows without streaks?
The first is the prep work, where you clean the windows so there is no visible dirt or debris, followed by glass cleaner treatment which can also be accompanied by isopropyl alcohol treatment. You would then move on to the clay bar treatment, followed by the final wax or polish treatment. The cherry on top will be the glass coating in the end.
What do car detailers use to clean windows?
Every car detailing shop has its own secret blend when it comes to the chemicals used. However, there are set standards for close-to pH-neutral products (ammonia free) that won’t damage the glass or any interior/exterior components.
Research shows that many professional detailers use Stoner Invisible Glass cleaner to clean car windows.
What is the best home remedy for cleaning car windows?
Equal amounts of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and distilled water mixed with a bit of vinegar are the best home remedy for cleaning car windows.
Even though there is a stronger cleaning remedy, having cornstarch into the mix, the usage is not that easy as it leaves solid residue behind, which can get stuck on glass if not removed promptly.
Conclusion: The Best Way to Clean Car Windows
The car windows are now both streak-free and scratch-free, as I have thoroughly explained the best ways to clean car windows without streaks.
To get to this point, we had to do the following steps
- Prepping the windows
- Using automotive glass cleaner that will clean the car windows without streaks
- Using clay bar and clay bar lubricant to capture all the contamination on the glass
- Using wax or glass polish to make it shine
- Using a glass coat to keep that shine
Then there are the home remedies (cleaning agents) that can also do a decent job cleaning car windows without streaks. In-home remedies, the best way to clean car glass is to go for distilled water with alcohol having a slight addition of vinegar.
You will get crystal-clean car windows without streaks if you can carry out the cleaning procedure mentioned here using professional cleaning solutions or the homemade ones mentioned in the alternative methods.