How To Clean Car Windows Like a Pro: Perfect Clarity Without Any Streaks


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how to clean car windows like a pro
Photo by: Lewis Jake

Cleaning car windows, especially windshields, is a nightmare for all car owners. Everyone’s trying to achieve perfect shine, clarity, and a streak-free result. Unfortunately, people usually get the opposite. Today I’m going to show you how to clean car windows like a pro, and get the best shine, clarity, and a streak-free result.

If you thought that you’re the only one who doesn’t know how to clean car windows properly, don’t worry. Actually, welcome to the club. 

It was happening to me again and again until I learned the proper way to clean car windows. Since then, I always get great results. I know this thing bothers many people, that’s why I decided to share this advice with you guys.

Why Cleaning Car Windows Is So Important?

When you detail your car, it’s not a big problem if you miss some spots on your paint or something, but when you make mistakes on washing windows, it will affect your driving.

Driving with dirty windows during the sunset, sunrise, night and rain is one of the worst things that may happen to us. With all the dirt on your windows, you won’t be able to see anything.

Sunset, sunrise, night and rain are situations when there’s a lot of reflection on the road (from the sun and from other car headlights), and if you don’t have perfectly clean windows, you won’t see through them good enough. 

So, the only way to ensure you’ll see during those situations is to properly clean car windows, especially the windshield.

Consequences of poor car windows cleaning:

  • Streaks
  • Foggy windows
  • Low visibility
  • Shineless windows
  • Not protected windshield

What You’ll Need

For cleaning car windows from inside and outside, you’re going to need these:

High-quality Car Window Cleaner

In order to get the best results possible, you have to use high-quality products when detailing your car. The same is with glass cleaning.

Sometimes we want to save a few bucks, but it’s not a smart decision when it comes to glass cleaning. Very cheap products will often leave streaks, and there is zero chance to get the best clarity and shine.

There are many high-quality car windows cleaners, but I like to use this Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner (check it now on Amazon).

Microfiber cloths

You’re going to need a few microfiber cloths:

  • All-purpose microfiber cloths
  • Microfiber towel for glass cleaning

Check out my Must Have Microfiber Products Recommendation, where you can find the best towels for cleaning. 

Rain-X

Rain-X (check the price on Amazon) is a great water repellent coating to protect the outside car windows, and to give them extra shine. 

There is no need to use Rain-X on all outside windows, only use it on a Windshield since that’s the place where you need the best protection.

Applying Rain-X to the windshield will help water go off it easier, so you’ll get better visibility during rain.

Related: Do Car Windshield Water Repellent Coatings Work? Should You Use It?

Some people like to use wax instead of Rain-X, but Rain-X seems to do a better job.

Clay Bar

I have put a clay bar as an optional choice since not everybody needs to clay the car windows. 

However, if you have never clayed your windows, I suggest you clay them to decontaminate the area, and you’ll get that smooth feeling.

Not only it will look nicer, but it will be as clean as possible, making visibility through your windows even better.

Clay Bar Lubricant

Using a clay bar without a clay bar lubricant is a very dummy idea. Using some other chemicals may destroy the clay bar and it will fall apart on your glass, which will be hard to remove then.

Only use quality clay bar lubricant, or just warm water when claying your glass. This Chemical Guys clay kit is all you need (check the price on Amazon).

Can You Use Household Window Cleaner?

Many people asked me this, especially my friends, and it’s a big NO-NO. Never use household window cleaners on your car glass, especially if you have tinted windows.

Household window cleaners all have ammonia as an ingredient, which will slowly destroy the tint on your windows, and could also be harmful to the car’s plastics and dashboard.

HOW TO CLEAN CAR WINDOWS: Step by step guide

We’re here finally, ha? First I’m going to explain to you how to clean the outside car windows, and then the inside since there are some differences.

So, to be clear, you’re washing the car windows LAST. When you finish washing the car exterior, then you go and clean the outside windows.

The same is for the interior, after finishing it, then you can proceed to clean the inside car windows.

Before you start cleaning your windows, be sure to park your car somewhere in SHADE. Don’t ever work in direct sunlight.

The Outside Car Windows Cleaning

Step #1 – Clean The Windshield

For this step, you’re going to need a car glass cleaning solution and a few clean microfiber cloths. 

Before you start, you need to know that you should always split your windshield into 2 halves. It’s too big, and you should split it so it’s easier to clean it.

Spray cleaning solution onto the 1st half of the windshield, and then clean with the microfiber cloth in all directions (up, down, left, right). Only do straight moves, no need for circular moves.

After you cleaned everything, take a clean microfiber cloth, and buff off the area again. This will dry out the windshield, as well as make sure that there aren’t any streaks.

Repeat the same process on the other half, and you’re good.

TIP: if there are still some streaks or dirts, clean that area again.

Step #2 – Clay the Windshield (Optional)

To get the best shine out of the windshield, you shall clay it. If you have never clayed your windshield, I recommend you do it. However, if you have done it recently, you can pass this step.

Spray the clay bar lubricant (or warm water) on the surface, and start wiping with the clay bar in all directions. 

This will help to decontaminate windshield, and also remove those tiny specks of dirt that the cleaning solution couldn’t remove.

After you clayed the whole windshield, dry the area with a clean microfiber cloth, and repeat the Step #1 again.

Step #3 – Apply Rain-X on the Windshield

As I said, some people are using wax, which is also great, but I suggest you use Rain-X, since it’s doing a better job.

Applying the Rain-X to the windshield will give it a much better shine, but will also protect it from dirt, bugs, mud, bird poops, ice during the winter, and the most important thing – easier driving during the rain.

Follow the instructions and apply it, here’s the quick guide:

  1. Spray the Rain-X on the clean microfiber cloth
  2. In small circular motions, apply it to the whole windshield
  3. Apply it once more
  4. Buff it off with a clean microfiber towel to remove haze

TIP: be sure not to apply Rain-X on the plastics, if you do, clean it immediately.

Step #4 – Clean the Rear Car Window

Use the same cleaning process as on the windshield, however, you don’t have to split it to halves:

  1. Spray the cleaning solution
  2. Clean with a microfiber cloth (up, down, left, right)
  3. Dry it out with a clean microfiber cloth

There’s no need to clay and apply Rain-X on your rear window.

Step #5 – Clean Side Windows

The process is the same as with the rear window, but I want you to pay attention to some details:

  • When cleaning, open your windows just a little bit to clean the upper part which you can’t access with windows closed
  • Pay attention to corners, people usually forget to clean some areas

Just as with the rear window, you don’t need to clay it or to apply Rain-X (or wax if you prefer).

The Inside Car Windows Cleaning

Before we go to steps, I need to tell you some things.

When cleaning the inside windows, you shall not spray the window cleaner directly to the windows. Instead of doing that, spray the cleaning solution on the clean microfiber cloth, and then clean windows.

It’s especially important when you’re cleaning the windshield.

Remember: spraying window cleaner on the plastics or the dashboard may remove the protective layer you added earlier. Also, it may even damage some plastics, rubber or vinyl.

Step #1 – Clean The Windshield

The process is very simple, even though you’ll probably need some time to improve your skills and get the perfect result.

Also, I like to clean the whole windshield from a passenger’s seat, not the driver’s. That way, the steering wheel won’t bother you when cleaning.

Be sure not to touch the windshield with your hands because there are oils that will make the windshield dirty again.

So, here are quick steps:

  1. Spray window cleaner on the microfiber cloth
  2. Clean the windows with that cloth
  3. Take a clean microfiber cloth
  4. Wipe the windshield to dry it out and remove any residue
  5. If needed, repeat the process (recommended for the windshield)

Step #2 – Clean the Rear Window

Use the same advice from the step above, and clean the rear window.

However, you need to be careful with one thing – WINDOW HEATERS.

Do you know those straight lines on the rear window? Well, those are window heaters, and you could easily break them if don’t do this properly.

Always clean the rear window in the same direction as the window heaters go. By doing that, you’ll make sure not to damage any of the heating lines.

Step #3 – Clean Side Windows

Side windows are the easiest to clean. However, if you have kids, you’ll probably have fingertips on your side windows, so make sure you clean it properly.

  1. Apply cleaning solution on the clean microfiber cloth
  2. Do the straight moves, and clean the window.
  3. Take a clean microfiber cloth and wipe the window off.
  4. Repeat the process if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions that people usually ask, make sure to check them out.

Can I use a paper towel to clean car windows?

I wouldn’t recommend you that since it’s leaving paint on your hands as well as on the windows. Microfiber cloth is the best product to use for cleaning the windows.

Wax or Rain-X?

Like I said earlier, both are better than nothing, but Rain-X seems to do a better job. However, if you don’t have Rain-X, don’t hesitate to use any kind of wax.

Can I clay bar all outside windows?

Yes, of course. However, I think there’s no need for laying all the windows unless you’re going to some car show or something.

Can I use just a pure water for cleaning?

I wouldn’t recommend that. If you’re using only water, you’ll probably have many streaks on your windows after cleaning them. That’s why I suggest you high-quality car windows cleaner.

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Thanks for reading my article. I hope you find it helpful. If you like this article, feel free to share it with your friends and family. 

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