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Ranking the 10 Best Car Glass Cleaners 2020

The Top Auto Glass Cleaning Formulas For Streak Free Perfection!

Best Overall Choice
Meguiars Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

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Best Premium Choice
Chemical Guys Signature Series Car Window Cleaner

Chemical Guys Signature Series Car Window Cleaner

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Best Budget Choice
Meguiars Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

3M Car Care Glass Cleaner

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Car Glass Cleaners

No one likes a dirty car, especially one with streaked, greasy windows. In fact, it doesn’t matter if your car is absolutely spotless – if you neglect your automotive glass, your ride doesn’t shine at its full potential.

Why Use Car Glass Cleaner?

The main question surrounding car glass is whether or not it can be cleaned with regular household cleaners. The answer is “Yes”, however, you may not be providing the best possible clean you can get if you are not using a specially formulated car glass cleaner.

There are a number of high-quality all-purpose glass cleaners that will work moderately well on automotive glass, but if your goal is to achieve a showroom clean on your car glass, then you are going to want to purchase a car glass cleaner specially formulated to tackle dirty automotive glass.

Specially Formulated for Automotive Grime – Automotive stains and grime are not the same as common household stains.

The dirt, grease, grime, and dust that plague our vehicles are the result of harsh chemicals and substances that are used in road construction and maintenance, as well as all of the soot and grime created by the friction of millions of rubber tires on the road.

Your standard soap and water solution does not have the chemical cleaning power of automotive glass cleaners and tends to smear and spread automotive grime rather than remove it.

Auto glass cleaners are specially formulated with powerful cleaning agents and chemicals that eat through and dissolve stubborn road grime so that it can be easily wiped away.

Will Not Haze – When any substance is allowed to dry or adhere to the surface of car glass it is almost guaranteed to leave a foggy haze if removed with anything other than a specially formulated automotive glass cleaner.

The reason for the leftover haze is due to mineral deposits that are left on a surface after a substance has been allowed to dry on it.

Automotive glass, though it appears smooth, is actually riddled with microscopic pits and fissures that inadvertently collect the mineral deposits.

microscopic view of autoglass

 

Car glass cleaners are specially designed to remove these mineral deposits from the surface of automotive glass without leaving any deposits themselves.

Pro Tip: Keep your car cleaner longer by preventing any substance from drying on your vehicle.

Will Not Streak – Many household glass cleaners are formulated to leave a waxy, oil-like substance on the surface of the glass to make it appear shinier after cleaning. Besides being counterintuitive, the waxy, oily substance acts as a grime magnet when applied to automotive glass.

Auto glass cleaners are designed to produce a showroom shine without leaving any residue on the surface of the glass that can cling to road grime and dirt.

Types and History of Automotive Glass

Automotive glass is nothing like a household or industrial glass because automotive glass has a history as sharp as its edge.

At the dawn of the automotive industry, a windshield was considered a luxury that would actually increase the overall price of the vehicle.

If a car included a windshield, it typically consisted of two panes of glass joined in the middle via several hinges that permitted the driver to fold the uppermost pane when dirty.

 

Trico-Wiper-Blades-History-Ad-Slides-in-the-slot

 

The windshield as it is today wasn’t incorporated into most vehicles until the early 20th century. However, even then the windscreen consisted of a single pane of glass that was, unsurprisingly, extremely prone to shattering.

Anyone who has experienced a fender bender, let alone a severe car crash, can attest to how violent the experience is. In the early twentieth century, before the advent of automotive safety measures, car accidents were even more violent.

It was commonplace for single pane windshields to shatter in even minor accidents and devastate the drivers and passengers inside the car, as well as pedestrians in the surrounding area with sharp broken glass. It was usually a very messy a volatile event, even at low speeds.

Shatter-resistant glass was invented in 1905 by French Chemist Edouard Benedictus but wasn’t incorporated in automotive use until the 1920’s. Since then there have been many advances in automotive safety technology, including improvements to the strength, weight and stress performance.

Tempered Glass – Tempered automotive glass is typically single-ply and manufactured using the process of repeated heating and cooling which enables the glass to be incredibly thin yet surprisingly durable.

Tempered glass is ideal for automotive purposes because, rather than shattering, it reduces into millions of blunted, pebble-like glass shards that lack any sharp edges.

Laminated Glass – Laminated glass consists of two panes of glass heat sealed together with a layer of clear polyvinyl butyral (PVP) which prevents the glass panes from flying apart when shattered in a car accident.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Glass – OEM glass is glass that is certified to be the original glass product that was used in the manufacture of a specific vehicle.

OEM glass is important to car collectors who want to be certain that they are replacing their original automotive glass with another original pane of glass.

Dealer Glass – Dealer glass refers to car glass purchased exclusively from the car dealership or approved by the auto manufacturer for use in a specific vehicle.

Aftermarket Glass – The aftermarket automotive glass industry is enormous, and aftermarket glass exists for nearly every make and model on the road.

Aftermarket glass is typically manufactured by aftermarket companies who contract directly with car manufacturers.

Aftermarket glass is made to the same specifications as OEM glass; however, it isn’t considered to be “original equipment equivalent.”  

How To Clean Car Glass

To get the most out of your car glass and achieve a showroom clean for your car, you first need to know how to clean your car glass.

Collect Your Tools – Round up everything you may need to clean your automotive glass. That includes:

  • A Bucket
  • Microfiber Towels
  • Automotive Soap
  • A Sponge
  • A Squeegee
  • Car Glass Cleaner
  • Water

Prep the Window – The next step is to prep the window so it can be cleaned. Remove excess dirt, dust and any debris that can easily be removed with a rinse from a hose or a splash of water from the bucket.

Clean the Window With Soap – Combine the automotive soap and water in your bucket and wash the window with the sponge as you would any other window. This will remove any dirt and dust missed by the hose.

Rinse away the soap once the window has been initially cleaned.

Squeegee Away the Water – Remember, it’s never a good idea to let anything dry on your car. Use the squeegee to remove any excess moisture from the window.

Apply Car Glass Cleaner- The exact application process may differ depending on the automotive glass cleaner you choose. Some may instruct you to spray the cleaner directly on the glass while others may call for you to apply it to the microfiber rag.

Regardless of the exact way the car glass cleaner is applied, it is recommended that you use an up-and-down or back-and-forth motion instead of a circular application, as this ensures full window coverage and reduces the chance of leaving a streak.

The Top Ten Best Car Glass Cleaners

There are a lot of demands placed on your car glass. It needs to keep you safe, but to do that you need to keep it clean.

The 10 car glass cleaners presented here are considered the absolute best on the market because the only thing they leave on your windows is a spotless, residue-free shine.

Best Overall Choice

1. Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

Meguiars Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

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Meguiar’s is one of the most recognizable names in car care, and it’s because of products like Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner.

Cleaning your car glass with it delivers a spotless, streakless showroom shine and windows so clean, you might actually forget they’re there.

This is one powerful car window cleaner. It is specially formulated to keep automotive glass cleaner for longer, thus reducing the time and effort needed to keep your car showroom ready.

It is also easy to use; simply spray and wipe away to leave your auto glass crystal-clear and residue-free.

A feature that car collectors are sure to love and one that makes this product stand out from the other cleaners on the market is its dust repellent technology, which prevents dust from clinging to the glass surface.

It also includes a unique lubricant that reduces friction between the glass surface and your rag, making it even easier to ensure that zero residues are left behind.

Since it is formulated with no ammonia, it is safe for use on tinted windows.

Best Premium Choice

2. Chemical Guys Signature Series Car Window Cleaner

Chemical Guys Signature Series Car Window Cleaner

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The Chemical Guys have done it again. Besides having a cool name and logo, they really know their stuff when it comes to automotive care.

The Chemical Guys Signature Series Car Window Cleaner is the ideal car glass and auto window cleaner for professional detailers and regular car owners alike.

Use it to erase fingerprints, smudges, streaks, spots, and stains from all of your auto glass. It contains no noxious chemicals or ammonia and delivers nothing but a streakless, spotless windshield that provides as much visibility as possible.

It is specially formulated to dissolve grime, grease, dirt, and filth to increase the visibility of your windows and the clarity of your side mirrors.

This cleaner is applied in a few sprays directly to your car glass or your microfiber towel. Then it’s simply wiped away, and takes with it all the grime that had been obscuring your vision.

Best Budget Choice

3. 3M Car Care Glass Cleaner

Meguiars Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

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It seems as though every day the engineers at 3M develop a new product for our cars as clean as their trademark tape is strong. 3M Car Care Glass Cleaner is a powerful car window cleaner that is specially formulated to dissolve dirt, smudges, and bug splatter to reveal crystal clear automotive glass.

It contains cleaning agents chemically engineered to soften sticky automotive grime and residue so it can be effortlessly wiped away.

Use is exceptionally easy, too. Its No-drip foaming action clings to vertical surfaces, providing a no-mess application and streak-free cleaning action. Finally, it is safe for use on all car glass including tinted windows.

 

4. DRIVEN Extreme Duty Glass Cleaner

Driven Extreme Glass Cleaner

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DRIVEN Extreme Duty Glass Cleaner isn’t your typical glass cleaner, it is the auto glass cleaning solution you break out for the auto auction.

This is an aggressive car window cleaner that attacks grease, grime and even etched-in hard water build-up. It does this by combining acid and powerful abrasives into a cleaning gel that dissolves and scrubs away stubborn grease and grime.

It also features a full spectrum of industrial cleaning agents that enable it to power through even the most weathered automotive glass. It qualifies for this 10 top list for its ability to spotlessly clean even the most stubborn, weathered, or antiquated auto glass.

5. Hope’s “Perfect Glass” Glass Cleaner

Hope’s “Perfect Glass” Glass Cleaner

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If you have ever been frustrated by the unsightly streaks that accompany most car window cleaners, then you are going to be impressed by Hope’s “Perfect Glass” Glass Cleaner.

It includes a specially designed zero-residue formula that dissolves road grime and polishes the window surface into a crystal-clear, high visibility showroom shine. This is an ammonia-free solution and safe for use on tinted windows.

It is innovative where other auto window cleaners are not. The engineers at Hope’s understand that most people are going to use their product with paper towels, so they have designed Hope’s “Perfect Glass” to work exceptionally well with paper towels.

On top of all these amazing features, this product was number 1 rated by a leading consumer magazine in 2008, 2011 and 2015.

 

6. Stoner Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner & Rain Repellent

Meguiars Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

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All of the automotive glass cleaners featured in this review perform exceptionally well when compared to the rest of the car glass cleaners on the market.

The feature that sets the Stoner Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner & Rain Repellent apart, even from the high-performance auto window cleaners on this list, is the addition of a specially-designed rain repellent.

A rain repellent seals the microscopic fissures and pits that riddle the surface of your automotive glass.  The sealing process fills the low areas of your auto glass eliminating the places where water can cling to your window. Rain repellent not only prevents water from drying on your automotive glass and leaving unsightly mineral deposits, but it also enables your windshield wipers to work more effectively.

The superior cleaning offered by this product leaves nothing but a stainless finish and a surface that is ideally suited to repel everything from rain to bird droppings.

 

7. SprayWay Glass Windshield Cleaner

Meguiars Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

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SprayWay Glass Windshield Cleaner is the only car glass cleaner on our list to include 4 specially-designed varieties that enable you to achieve the best possible clean, no matter the automotive glass surface.

It is easy to use and works quicker than most automotive glass cleaners on the market. In addition, it is chemically engineered to clean and polish all automotive glass surfaces without dripping, running or leaving unsightly streaks.

 

Its cleaning agents are designed to foam on contact with the automotive glass and dissolve dirt, grease, grit, and grime. Finally, it is ammonia-free and dries fast which makes it ideal for quick touch-ups and removing fingerprints and smudges.

8. Stoner Invisible Glass Trio

Meguiars Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

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Stoner makes the list of our 10 top products a second time with its Invisible Glass Trio. The non-streaking cleaner leaves glass nearly invisible. This powerful car window cleaner formula is applied via an aerosol spray or handy wipes that are specially designed to clean and protect the glass.

The Stoner Invisible Glass Trio scores higher with professional detailers than any other automotive glass cleaner on our list, which isn’t a surprise. It dissolves dirt, dust, fingerprints, haze, oil, grease, and sap easily from any automotive glass surface.

The Stoner Invisible Glass Wipes are saturated with powerful invisible glass cleaner and are easily dispensed from a flip-top canister that keeps the wipes moist until you need them.

 

The Stoner Invisible Glass Aerosol releases a grime-cutting foam auto glass cleaner that removes road grime and greasy films from your car’s mirrors, windows, and windshields.

Stoner Invisible Glass Clean & Repel features a built-in polymer glass protectant that fills in microscopic grooves and valleys and enables water to bead and roll off.

9. Griot's Garage Ultra-Premium Foaming Glass Cleaner

Meguiars Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

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Griot’s Garage developed the original invisible glass cleaner, so they know a thing or two when it comes to car window cleaner, and keeping your car glass showroom ready. Griot’s Garage Ultra-Premium Foaming Glass Cleaner is the latest in a line of powerful auto glass cleaners.

This is a well-rounded auto glass cleaner that works exceptionally well on bug residue, grease, and automotive grime.

“Bug-jerky” and “smokers fog” can leave your windows covered in a disgusting film that dangerously reduces window visibility. The powerful degreasing foam stays on the window longer allowing it to cut through even the most stubborn grime.

It even produces a fresh citrus scent so you can enjoy the smell of oranges while you watch the powerful cleaning agents dissolve every last inch of road grime from even the most weathered windows.

10. Safelite Glass Cleaner

Meguiars Perfect Clarity Window Glass Cleaner

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When your windshield breaks you call the experts at Safelite to replace it. Safelite is the trusted name in auto glass, so it comes as no surprise that their specially formulated car window cleaner ranks among the 10 top car glass cleaning products.

Safelite Glass Cleaner is easy-to-use and features a fast-acting foam the breaks up tricky grease and grime stains and clings to vertical surfaces for the most effective clean possible.

It is specially formulated with denatured alcohol instead of ammonia and cleans as fast as it dries. You won’t even have to rinse the window afterward.



How To Choose An Auto Glass Cleaner – Buying Guide

For a successful purchase, here are some things to consider before buying:

Type of product – Aerosol Spray Cans vs. Spray Bottles

The most common types of products come in aerosol spray cans or spray bottles. Both do a great job cleaning and while many users do not find any difference in using one or the other, there are people who do choose one over the other for a couple of reasons.

Spray cans typically spray foam, which makes it easier to check how much product you are applying on a specific area whereas the pump bottles feature a squeeze trigger that does not splatter the liquid all over the cleaning area but is more comfortable to use.

Some users also find that streaking and hazing is an issue for them when using aerosol cans but this can be due to mishandling since oftentimes streaking comes as a result of some contaminants still remaining on the area, in which case you have to repeat the process and focus more on the stubborn spots.

For persistent debris or grime, make sure that you are using clean towels and you can also try a clay bar treatment that will give a deep clean to your vehicle.

Liquid form cleaners can often be more cost-effective since they come in gallon containers, which makes them a better cleaning solution for a professional or somebody who often needs to clean more than one car.

For a quick 1 step cleaning of your windshield or detailing exterior surfaces and doing touch-ups, pre-moistened car wipes come handy. Just make sure you follow the instructions correctly.

Ease of use

A cleaner that goes on easy and is comfy to hold and fast to apply can make the whole process easier. Generally, foaming cleaners are convenient to apply and wipe off, nicely removing grime and dirt. You may also want to stay away from products that drip and create a mess.

Matching your cleaning style or needs with an effective product is a good way to go.

Safe for tinted windows

Cleaners that contain ammonia can damage tint car windows by fading or even changing the color. They make the film more susceptible to breaking down and therefore minimize its life.

However, even if a product is free of Ammonia, you will want to make sure that the rest of the ingredients are also safe to use on this type of glass and will not cause any staining.

Non-irritating ingredients

Ammonia in high concentrations can elicit eye irritation and upper respiratory problems. People who suffer from asthma or other respiratory issues should exercise caution when inhaling products containing potentially irritating ingredients.

If you have a reason to worry about certain chemicals contained in your glass cleaner, you should always check the full list of ingredients before buying.

Also, some of these car cleaning products contain artificial fragrances that some people may be sensitive to. If you have broken skin or sensitive skin, always use rubber gloves to clean your car to avoid direct contact with your skin.

Easy to store

If you can’t wash your car at home, you will need to keep a glass cleaning product in the trunk of your vehicle in which case you will not want to go for a bulky container. To avoid spillage, keep the spray bottles standing right side up.

In the case of spray cans, they should be kept in a cool and dry place away from extreme heat conditions. Although there is no risk of leaking, they should also not be stored upside down. In this sense, glass wipers are the easiest and safest to store.

Price

Usually, prices of auto glass cleaners range starting from as low as $2.50 for a Windex 680 ml. spray bottle to a $35 high-end cleaning kit that may include the cleaner, microfiber towels, and a wand.

If you are looking for cost-effective solutions, you can buy large concentrate containers or cases with more than one bottle of your favorite product.

How To Make A DIY Natural Car Glass Cleaner

For DIY and green living enthusiasts or people who want to stay away from chemical-laden products, a homemade car glass cleaner is not just a healthier option but an effective and in some cases cheaper solution, too.

Our DIY recipe is as simple as it can be since you will only need two ridiculously easy to find ingredients and a spray bottle.

The main ingredient is vinegar which is well known for its anti-microbial properties. Many people use it for home cleaning since it is a budget-friendly natural cleaning ingredient.

  • Mix 1 cup of white distilled vinegar with 1 cup of clean water in a spray bottle, and simply spray and clean.
  • For a very grimy glass, try prewashing the surface with some soapy water and then move on to the spray.
  • You can also do spot cleaning by dipping a cloth in vinegar or warming it up before use.
  • Wipe the glass using a clean microfiber towel or a soft cloth that is free of lint.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is glass cleaner safe for car paint?

Glass cleaner will not directly damage car paint, but it can strip off wax from the finish of the paint. To avoid window cleaner coming into contact with car paint, use the cleaner after spraying onto an absorbent cloth.

Glass cleaner can also cause plastic trim to dry out and wear out prematurely, so avoid excessive contact between paint, plastic trim, and window cleaner.

What is the best cleaner for tinted car windows?

Let’s start from what you shouldn’t be using on your tint auto windows and that is ammonia-based cleaner. As we have seen, ammonia damages the tint and makes the black plastics dry and dull.

Choose a product that is labeled as safe for tinted windows. To prevent leaving streaks and calcified spots on the tint, we recommend using distilled water to mix your cleaner instead of tap water especially if your home water is hard. Also, avoid using abrasive products such as paper towels or newspapers. Use only soft fabrics to clean and dry the glass.

Is Windex good for car windows and car paint?

Glass cleaners contain harsh cleansing agents such as ethylene glycol, ammonia, butane and others that can remove wax or any paint protection and strip the paint of your vehicle, causing it to yellow and cloud.

As a strong cleaner, Windex can damage the finish of your car and therefore we recommend against using it for this purpose. All-purpose Windex can also be too strong for your car windows and leave some haze behind. For car windows, you can try the glass cleaner Windex version which is ammonia-free.

How do I deep clean my windshield?

Rinse your windshield with some water. Apply your favorite glass cleaner and wipe off any of the grime using a clean microfiber towel. Spray some water across the windshield and start sliding a clay bar back and forth across it, feeling for any high spots. Then, clean up the excess water and any of the dirt sitting on the surface.

Spray some glass cleaner again on the windshield and clean the glass one more time. For our final step, we choose a carnauba based butter wet wax that will produce a streak-free deep shine, providing a protective natural-looking coating against all sorts of road debris and even UV rays. Apply a small amount of product to a clean soft towel and do small circular motions on the glass to spread the wax across the entire windshield.

Wait for a while till it dries and use a clean cloth to buff off all the wax on the surface and clean it off using circular motions and then up and down motions.



Jacob Doyle
About Jacob Doyle

I am a Chicago-born writer with a thirst for everything automotive. I live by a simple rule; travel far, work hard and never stop writing. If I am not writing away, you can find me wrenching on my 1989 Ram Charger or wrecking something with wheels.