So you’ve given your vehicle a good wash, but the visibility through the glass still isn’t great. Cleaning windows seems simple enough, and you’ve probably been cleaning the inside of your windshield since you first started driving, but since the vast majority of your time in the car is spent staring through this glass, it pays to go the extra mile.
Here are a few tips to help you get great results every time you clean your windshield.
Clean Before You Clean
It might sound like washing the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher, but the absolute first step in how to clean the inside of a windshield is to eliminate any loose dirt and debris you might otherwise spread around with your cloth and glass cleaner.
Do what the professional detailers do. Start with a clean microfiber cloth, and go over the entire inside of the windshield. This will do the same thing that a microfiber cloth does for your eyeglasses, sunglasses or computer screen: remove dirt and dust, as well as any gritty particles that might cause scratches in the glass.
Now, take a clean section of the cloth, put a bit of rubbing alcohol on it, and wipe down the entire inside of the windshield using a circular motion. This is a protip to remove any oily film from the glass.
Then, before you reach for the glass cleaner, bring out your shop vac or, if you have one, a dedicated handheld car vacuum. Using a brush and crevice tools, vacuum the dashboard and the crevices above, below and beside it. Some of that loose dust and dirt you’ve been dealing with has undoubtedly fallen in there, and you don’t want to spread it back onto the windshield while you’re trying to clean it.
The Main Event
Now we’re ready to get down to the step of actually cleaning the windshield. First, you’ll need another clean, soft towel. Microfiber is once again the way to go. No matter what you’ve seen other people do, do not spray your glass cleaner directly onto the glass. Spray it onto the microfiber towel. This will give you a more even application and reduce streaking.
With the wet cloth in hand, wipe down half of the windshield at a time in an up-and-down motion, and then repeat that side-to-side. Taking on just half of the glass at a time means you won’t be reaching across the whole cabin, which could cause you to miss spots as you stretch. Finally, get a third dry and clean towel and wipe away any residual cleaner or streaking, again taking only half the windshield at a time.
As with most car care practices, cleaning your glass properly is one-third having the right tools, one-third knowing how to use them and one-third taking the time to use them right. If you don’t skip the last part, as so many people do, you’ll definitely be happy with your newly spotless windshield.
Check out all the automotive cleaners available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to clean the inside of a windshield, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Mike Hagerty.
Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of MikeHagertyCars.com, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and losaltosonline.com. Previous outlets have included KFBK and KFBK.com in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and BBCCars.com.