If you clean your car’s windows and constantly get streaks, it’s a lot simpler than you think. You’re overthinking it.
If you break it down, cleaning your car’s windows comes down to three things: your cleaning cloth, glass cleaner, and technique. The foundation of cleaning car windows is using an ammonia-free glass cleaner with clean, lint-free cleaning clothes (preferably microfiber,) making sure you thoroughly clean the glass with one side of a microfiber before buffing off with a dry, clean side.
If you still suffer from streaks, I’ve assembled a handful of the best car glass cleaning techniques from the pros.
Table of Contents
These are the car cleaning materials weekend details are pros recommend.
If you’re using windex, stop. Windex contains, by volume, 5 percent ammonia. While ammonia is a powerful cleaning agent and effective at breaking down fats and oils, it can, if applied to some car surfaces, damage your car’s paint, chrome trim, rubber seals, vinyl, and plastic. Ammonia can also break down wax, ruining your paint protection. Ammonia-based glass cleaners are also finicky and must be applied on cool, sun-free surfaces.
Thankfully, there are several ammonia-free glass cleaners. The number one I hear time and time again is “Invisible Glass” by Stoner. While you can buy it on Amazon, you can also find it in spray can and bottle form at Walmart, each for less than $4. I’ve used “Invisible Glass” and, without even trying, achieved streak-free results.
Honorable mention glass cleaner is a white can with a blue top from Sprayway, their Ammonia Free Glass Cleaner. You can literally spray as much as you want and, with one clean cloth, achieve a streak free shine, dare I say, in direct sunlight.
Next, are microfiber towels. While, honestly, any large, lint-free microfiber towel will do, two microfiber towels that will help achieve streak free windows are low-pile and waffle weave microfiber towels.
Low-pile microfiber towels are best suited for a mostly clean glass surface. With little to no movement of the pile, the pile is “forced” into action, trapping tiny dirt and debris, aided by your cleaning solution.
Waffle Weave towels are extra-forgiving in achieving a streak-free shine thanks to its pattern that acts like little cups, absorbing moisture and wicking away dust and dirt thanks to its ridges. The Detail Geek on Youtube swears by these.
Prepping the glass
If your car windshield or windows have serious gunk and hard water stains, those contaminants might cause streaks, no matter how much you clean. If you have a clay bar, wash & dry your glass before rubbing it with clay, removing stuck in pieces of dirt and debris.
When spraying your glass cleaner, do not over-saturate. Spray just enough. Less cleaner is more.
In addition, it would behoove you to clean your glass not in direct sunlight.
Basic one-towel method
If you have a clean microfiber and ammonia-free glass cleaner, this is the basic method to achieve streak-free windows. Fold your microfiber into fourths, spray product onto your windshield and clean. Next, flip to a clean and dry fourth and buff to a streak-free shine. Move your head to catch the light to spot any streaks.
Jacob’s low-price auto glass method
This is my favorite method because it’s simple. You can read up on the full method and thought process here, but basically you have two microfibers folded in fourths. First, spray your windows with product and, using the first towel, clean the window throughly. Then, using your second buffing towel, buff the window, flipping to a fresh fourth if you contaminate the surface with dirt. That’s it.
Ammo NYC’s 3-towel method
If you know anything about AMMO NYC, you’ll know he’s the cream of the crop for detailers. His 3-towel method (starts at 13:50) is literally the best and should return streak-free windows. Basically, spray product on your windshield and clean with the first towel. Lightly spritz product on your second towel and clean again. Immediately after, buff with the third.
Cleaning the inside windows, particularly your inner-windshield
Thanks to off-gassing plastics, the inside of your windshield is particularly oily. Use a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water to de-grease the inside windshield before you clean using any of the above methods.
Angled windshields make cleaning the inside a pain as you have to angle your wrist. Many pros swear by these dedicated reach and clean tools which make cleaning the inside of your windshield almost enjoyable.. They’re pricey but worth it.