How To Clean Car Windows Without Streaks: THE GUIDE

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guy cleaning windshield on his car, illustration

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 streak-free glass.

Preparation Steps

Don’t just rush and clean your car windows immediatelly, there are only few preparation steps you should do prior to cleaning car windows.

Here they are:

  • Clean car windows last, after you’ve thoroughly washed the whole vehicle, both inside and out.
  • Make sure the car is in the shade. This is one of the most important things if you want streak-free results.
  • The area should be lit well. Don’t work at night because you won’t be able to see the real condition of car windows. You should always have enough light to check for streaks, etc.

Cleaning Exterior Windows

For cleaning exterior car windows, you’ll need:

  • A few microfiber towels for glass (3-4 pieces). For every window, use another microfiber towel. That will prevent any streaks from appearing.
  • Automotive window cleaner (I recommend using Gyeon Q2M Glass Cleaner).
  • Clay bar and clay bar lubricant (optional)
  • RainX or similar rain repellent (optional)
  • Windshield cleaning tool (optional)

Basic Cleaning

For the windshield, due to its size, it’s best to tackle it in two halves. Spray the cleaner on one section of the glass, then wipe using straight motions with a microfiber cloth. Buff with a fresh cloth to ensure it’s dry and free from streaks.

While buffing, try to be quick, as this helps to prevent streaks from appearing on car windows. This method applies to the windshield, rear window, and side windows.

A quick tip: give the area another wipe if you notice persistent streaks or dirt after cleaning. Sometimes windows are just too dirty and require multiple passes.

I recently tried a windshield cleaning tool, and I can tell you that it work wonders. It’s much easier to do it because you don’t have to stretch it so much. Check it out by clicking the image below.

SoSickWithIt Car Cleaning Window Tool, Microfiber Window Cleaning Tool with 4 Washable and Reusable...
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Advanced Clarity and Protection for Windshield (Optional)

If you want enhanced clarity and protection for your car’s windshield, I recommend that you clay the windshield and then apply RainX.

The clay bar will clean all the tiny contaminants that weren’t cleaned by basic cleaning, and RainX acts as a glass protectant, which will repel water and keep the windshield cleaner for longer.

Claying The Windshield:

  • Spray clay bar lubricant or warm water on the windshield.
  • Use the clay bar in straight motions to lift finer dirt particles.
  • Once done, dry with a microfiber cloth and give the windshield another basic clean to ensure all residues are gone.

RainX Application:

  • Spray Rain-X onto a cloth.
  • Work it onto the windshield in small circular motions.
  • Allow it to haze, then apply a second coat.
  • Buff away any residue with a clean cloth.

Note: Be cautious with Rain-X or similar rain repellent products; avoid getting it on plastics. If it does come into contact, clean it off immediately.

Cleaning Interior Windows

For cleaning interior glass and windows, you’ll need:

  • A few microfiber towels for glass (3-4 pieces).
  • Automotive glass cleaner (The same you’ve used on the exterior).

General Cleaning

  • Start by spraying your automotive glass cleaner onto a microfiber cloth. This method prevents potential damage to interior materials like plastics, rubber, or vinyl.
  • When cleaning, avoid touching the glass with your hands, as oils from your hands can leave smudges.
  • Wipe the glass in straight motions but in all directions.
  • Buff it with a fresh cloth for a streak-free finish.

Pro tips for cleaning interior car windows:

  • If you vape in your vehicle, consider a pre-clean with an all-purpose cleaner (APC) to break up vape residue. Here’s my guide on removing vape film from car windows.
  • For the windshield, it’s more convenient to clean from the passenger’s seat to avoid the steering wheel.
  • When cleaning the rear window, ensure you wipe in the direction of the heating lines to prevent any damage.
  • Don’t forget to roll down the windows a little bit so you can clean the edges as well.

Optional Step: Anti-Fog Treatment

If you frequently encounter foggy windows, especially during colder months, consider applying an Anti-Fog Spray. This treatment helps maintain clear visibility by preventing condensation buildup.

Anti-Fog spray is one of the best methods to fight foggy windows, and I apply it before every winter season.

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 in 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 well 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 window cleaning:

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a paper towel to clean car windows?

I wouldn’t recommend 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 windows.

Is Wax or RainX better?

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 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 high-quality car window cleaner.

Can I use household window cleaners to clean car windows?

Never use household window cleaners on your car glass, especially if you have tinted windows. All household glass cleaners 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.

Bottom Line

In my opinion, the steps above are the best way to clean car windows without streaks, and I’m able to get fantastic results every single time when cleaning.

Lastly, don’t forget to top up your windshield washer fluid, so you can clean car windows during rides.

I also suggest that you check my favorite tools for cleaning car windows. These tools help me to speed up the whole process, work more efficiently, and achieve perfect clarity of my car windows in no time.

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