Best Windshield Cleaner to Keep Your View Clear
We rate the best windshield cleaners for all your automobile windows
Published September 15, 2018
It’s important to keep your windshield clean at all times – not just for the aesthetic appeal, but also to keep you safe on the road. Dirty glass and windshields reduce overall visibility, leading to a higher instance of traffic accidents. Tree sap, road salt, bugs, dirt, dust, and road oil all build up on the windshield and reduce its efficiency. This is exactly why cleaning your windshield should be a regular part of your routine car maintenance. That’s why you must invest in the best windshield cleaner for your vehicle right after you use the best car washing kit to get the rest of it clean!
We’ve done the research to save you time and energy. What we came up with were the top ten windshield cleaners for your automobile. Many of them are easy to use, offer safe ingredients, and feature a reasonable price.
Reasons to Use Windshield Cleaner
Why should you use a dedicated windshield cleaner versus your average glass cleaner? This is a common question that we have the answer to.
Automotive glass is manufactured differently than regular household glass. That’s why it’s imperative to purchase a product specifically designed for your windshield and automobile windows. If the label on your product doesn’t list windshields as something it cleans, then you should look for a different cleaner.
Here are the most common advantages to using a dedicated windshield cleaner product.
Modern glass cleaners for automobiles use a chemical formulation that doesn’t haze on the windshield. You most often see this occur when a surface comes into contact with prolonged contaminants, like hard water. This is the reason you want to make sure all your car’s surfaces are dried after the car wash. Otherwise, you end up with a mineral deposit buildup.
Thankfully, most high-quality windshield cleaners cut right through this deposited layer and reduce hazing in the future.
Some household glass cleaners leave you with an oily or waxy residue. This is done purposely to add shine to your glass, but you don’t want it for your automobile.
On a car, this waxy residue just acts as a magnet for anything touching the surface. It also leads to annoying streaks that distract you from the road. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of using a different rag for cleaning, but a top-of-the-line windshield cleaner does a far better job of giving you clear glass to look through.
Cuts Through Surface Contaminants and Stains
Regular soap and water just doesn’t cut through tough grime and dirt. The more you attempt to wipe them off your windshield, the higher your chance of creating streaks. Using the best windshield cleaners helps you to remove the contaminants and stains with ease.
Specially Formulated for Vehicles
Toilet bowl cleaner works well on the inside of your toilet because it was designed to. It’s the same with wood dusting polishes and tile cleaners – each one has a specific purpose and you find that they work best on those products. You’ll find the same goes with your windshield cleaner. It’s specially formulated to work on automotive glass; therefore, it’s going to provide results unlike any other soap could.
It’s also important that you NEVER use household glass cleaners on your automobile glass. The majority of them contain ammonia which isn’t safe for tint. Some people also choose to use soap and water which will effectively clean but doesn’t have the solvent needed to break down the protein base of stubborn spots or bug remains.
Tips for Using a Glass Cleaner
Now that we’ve established that you want a high-end windshield cleaner, let’s talk about the proper way to use it. After all, it does no good to invest in a highly rated window cleaner if you don’t know the right steps to cleaning with it.
1 – Start by putting on protective gear. Most people think that glass cleaner is safe to use, but some people turn out to be sensitive to the ingredients. If you aren’t sure, you should invest in some gloves. If the product comes in an aerosol can, you would also want to use a face mask.
2 – Choose a rag. Most manufacturers recommend a particular type of cloth that works best with their cleaner. You also want to ensure that it’s lint-free and produces an electrostatic charge capable of lifting debris from the glass surface. Avoid using socks, towels, and your old t-shirt, as these lead to scratches and streaks. You also want to use a different rag for your cleaning than you do for the buffing.
3 – Use a linear movement while cleaning. Don’t fall into the trap of buffing your car’s glass with the same circular movement you use on the vehicle. To get all the surfaces, you want to move in a left to right motion. You might also try working vertically as well.
4 – Make sure you clean the glass in the shade. Some brands say you can apply them in the sunlight, but we avoid this anyway. Cleaning in sunlight speeds up the rate of evaporation and increases your risk of having a spotty residue or streaks on the glass.
Other Equipment to Invest in for Clean Windows
It’s great to invest in the best window cleaner, but without the right tools, you might do your cleaning in vain. All jobs require the right materials to perform the task correctly. Here are some that make your job easier and safer.
Microfiber cleaning towel – as we discussed earlier, the formula might request a specific type of rag. If it doesn’t, opt for a lint-free microfiber cloth that has a GSM rating of 300 or higher. We recommend using two towels – one for application and another for wiping clean.
Protective gear – gloves are a must if you have sensitive skin or are working with toxic chemicals. If you plan to use aerosol sprays, make sure you also invest in a face mask and goggles.
Squeegees and extended-reach products – some people opt to use squeegees to get rid of the cleaner. While this is perfectly acceptable, you want to make sure it’s safe to use on automotive glass, because not all of them are. In addition, if you have areas of your windshield that are tough to reach, you’ll need some extending tools.
Windshield Wipers – you need to invest in a high-quality pair of wiper blades if you want your windshield to remain clean. On cheap wipers, the rubber cracks easily and stops hugging the glass properly.
Picking the Best Windshield Cleaner – Our Top 10 Choices
We’ve gone through all the windshield cleaners on the market to find the ten options that should work best for you. Here they are in no particular order:
10. SAFELITE AUTOGLASS Safelite Glass Cleaner
When you want a good windshield cleaner, why not go right to the source? With the Safelite AutoGlass Cleaner, you know that you’re dealing with a brand that understands the needs of glass. This formula dissolves stubborn grime, grease, and dirt off the windshield to give you a clear view of your surroundings.
The aerosol application doesn’t drip or run, making it easier to clean. Unlike a lot of products that feature a scent which screams cleaning product, this one is more subtly scented. The denatured alcohol formula contains no ammonia, so it’s safe to use on tint as well.
Don’t use wool or any other harsh fabric with this cleaner or you could end up with scratches. Instead, pick something soft for cleaning.
The cleaning process is simple. You spray this on, clean with your soft cloth, and allow it to dry. There’s no need to rinse it off when you’re done. The company even guarantees that you won’t have any streaks when used properly.
The 19-ounce container is sold in quantities. Purchasing a pack with more bottles allows the cost per unit to drop significantly.
9. 3M 08888 Glass Cleaner
Unlike most household glass cleaners, the 3M Glass Cleaner won’t drip or runoff. That’s because it’s not mostly liquid, but is a non-drip foam. This means you don’t have to worry about a mess being left behind, or hurrying to get it all cleaned up before it runs down the windshield.
Simply shake the can well and spray it on the windshield. It comes out in a fine mist and stays put until you clean it off with your cloth. The no-streak formula is ideal for all automotive glass plus it cuts through the most stubborn grime and grease.
What’s great about this formula is that you can use it on other surfaces as well. It’s safe and effective on both interior plastic and automotive vinyl. The 19-ounce canister should last for quite some time and might even replace some of your other cleaners.
8. Chemical Guys CLD_202_16 Signature Series Glass Cleaner
It should come as no surprise that a ton of professional automotive detailers prefer the Chemical Guys Glass Cleaner. If it’s good enough for them, it must be of high quality. In fact, it’s safe enough to use on your electronics, tablet, smartphone, and computer screens as well.
That’s because it’s both ammonia-free and non-toxic. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not hard-working, though. This heavy-hitter is tough and cuts through dirt like a champ. It’s capable of removing virtually any contaminant off your automobile glass.
This product offers a unique streak-free formula for a view so clear; you won’t be sure glass is even there. After the cleaning, it continues working to repel dirt and dust because it reduces your window’s static ability. Feel free to use it on tinted windows as well.
If you’ve struggled to remove dirt, debris, dust, bugs, road grime, or fingerprints, you won’t have an issue after you spray this on. Then, use it to clean the glass on your motorcycle, truck, boat, or RV as well. It’s even great to take in the house; creating an utterly versatile product.
You can purchase bottles as small as 4-ounces if you want to give it a try, but your best value is to grab a larger bottle; perhaps even a gallon at a time.
7. Driven Extreme Duty Glass Cleaner
If you deal with hard water stains, then the Driven Extreme Duty Glass Cleaner is a great option for you. It’s also effective at removing stubborn debris and etched-in dirt. This chemical composition breaks up calcium and other mineral deposits’ molecular bonds. It’s been effective at eliminating alkali stains, heavy lime, salt spray, water stains, paint overspray, mildew buildup, mold, rust accumulation, and more.
This is your best option for a mean and tough windshield cleaner. It’ll even fight back against those impossible stains that no one wants to attempt to remove. It’s a great tool when you’re restoring an old car that’s been sitting. Just keep in mind that this formula is a little fiercer than the other options, so you’ll probably want to wear some gloves at the least. You’re also going to pay a bit more to have this in your arsenal.
6. Sprayway SW050-12 Glass Cleaner
One of your lowest cost options per can is the Sprayway Glass Cleaner. This heavy-duty option is tough on dust, grime, particles, and dirt. It even fights back against those bugs that are smashed on your windshield.
Even though this is a tough formulation, it’s still gentle to the glass surface. The most significant difference with this compared to the higher priced options is that this one doesn’t create a protective barrier to repel dirt after the cleaning.
The spray itself comes out as heavy foam that clings tightly to any vertical surface. You don’t need to worry about any run-off and it’s guaranteed not to leave a film behind. The perfume-grade alcohol offers a superb performance while allowing the formula to remain ammonia-free. Simply spray and then wipe it clean.
You can use this on your automotive glass, mirrors, windows, and other glass surfaces with ease. What you’re left with is a clear view and a light, fresh scent.
5. Meguiar’s G8224 Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner
Many car detailers rely on Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner because of its exceptional reputation. You can now get the same results at home and save yourself some money. Remove stubborn dirt and grime from the windshield and other parts of your car with ease.
This spray formula is simple to use and offers an anti-haze guarantee that leaves your glass completely clear. You don’t even need to worry about using it on your tinted windows, just make sure you follow all the directions.
They’ve created this formula to spread out and wipe off with ease in a short time. It offers superior cleaning protection against bird droppings, road grime, tree sap, bugs, smoke film, and vinyl fog. It’s also available in a larger bottle than most of the other choices.
4. Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner
The prices just don’t go much lower than with the Invisible Glass Cleaner. This spray effectively removes the film that builds up on your windshield because of dirt and debris from your environment. It also won’t leave behind any marks, imperfections or scents when you’re done.
It effectively cleans any glass surface without leaving marks and streaks. That’s what makes it a great option for your household tasks as well. There are no dyes, foams, or soaps in this formula, so it’s gentle and eco-friendly. Just spray where you want to clean and wipe it off with your microfiber cloth.
Because it’s ammonia-free, it’s safe to use on your tinted windows as well. This deep-penetrating solution comes in a 19-ounce can that’s sure to last for a good amount of time, making it a great value.
3. Sonax 338241-755 Glass Cleaner
Another effective windshield cleaner is the Sonax Glass Cleaner. It eradicated insects, dirt, nicotine film, plus the exhaust residue on your windshield and windows. The formula is phosphate-free and leaves behind no streaks. All it leaves behind is a clear, clean windshield.
Once you see what it’s capable of, you’ll want to take it indoors for all your household glass as well. Just use the pump sprayer and then allow it to work for a few minutes before you wipe it clean. They recommend using a soft microfiber cloth for removal.
The ammonia-free solution is also safe to use on tinted windows plus the formula is VOC compliant. If you plan to use a lot of it, you might want to purchase it in the larger 338-ounce size.
2. Rain-X 800002243 Glass Treatment
If you’ve been around cars at all, chances are you’ve heard of Rain-X. They’ve been a leader in the automotive industry and their Rain-X Glass Treatment is a good reason why. Not only does it effectively remove road grime, bugs, and dirt from your windshield, but it’s safe to use on the restoration of your headlights as well.
You can trust this product to remove any discoloration and haze from your automotive glass. The biggest feature of this formula is that it also protects against further infestation from contaminants down the road.
Your driving visibility will be like it’s never been before and you’ll stop taking your car to the detailer. Not only that, but Rain-X assures customers that this formula also improves wiper blade performance, which the other companies don’t offer. You could use it on your glass shower door or household windows to get the same beading action inside. The bottle is available in seven-ounces, but you don’t need a lot to make a difference.
1. Gel-Gloss No Streek Glass Wax
The name might make you do a double take, but the Gel-Gloss No Streek Cleaner is an exceptional product you need to learn about. It cleans, protects, and adds shine to your automotive glass. You’ll think the car is new when you’re finished.
There’s no streaking left behind and you’ll swear that it’s been cleaned by a professional. The formula contains a professional-grade cream polish which cleans and protects. The gel-gloss cleaner is aggressive and effectively removes water spots plus tough residue that’s been caked on by the sun.
Just like Rain-X, this brand also repels water, making it easier to see while driving in the rain. Use it on your boat, motorcycle, and RV as well. You could even take it inside the home to make your mirrors and glass sparkle like new. It’s available for purchase in a large 19-ounce can that should last you a good while.
Bonus Product – Instant Windshield Washer
While this isn’t like the other windshield cleaning products, it’s something you might want to consider using as well. The Instant Windshield Washer cleans your windshield without your help. It wipes away bugs, dirt, road film, and grime and only requires you to do a small amount of work.
Not only is it effective, but it’s economical and good for the environment. Instead of purchasing bottles of cleaner, you simply buy these tablets. Then you mix one tablet with a gallon of water to make glass cleaner. This reduces the number of plastic bottles that end up in the landfill, and because you don’t have to buy bulky packaging, the cost remains low as well.
Considering you purchase 25 tablets at a time, you have access to 25 gallons of cleaner so that you won’t need more any time soon. When you compare that with the price of other products, you quickly see how great of a deal it is.
On top of all the other perks, this formula is also biodegradable and environmentally-friendly. There’s no health hazard to you so you’ll remain safe while mixing it up. You can also use it on rubber and painted surfaces, plus it doesn’t cause any damage to your tint or wipers.
Those ten formulas are the best windshield cleaners we found on the market right now. They feature the highest levels of performance and most are affordable. If you desire a sparkling clean windshield and want the highest level of visibility, you must pick one of those.
Most of our choices for the best windshield cleaner are also environmentally-friendly and contain no harsh ingredients. A few of them even offer a pleasant, fresh scent for when the cleaning is over. Once you see better, you’ll surely realize the importance of maintaining a clear line of sight. Protect yourself and others on the road by cleaning your car with the best windshield cleaner on the market.