How to Clean the Inside of Your Windshield Like a Pro

May 12, 2017

clean windshield
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If you've started to notice decreased visibility, distortions, or blurry lights through your windshield, chances are that it just needs a good cleaning. While most people realize this, they tend to grab some paper towel and glass cleaner or give the window a quick squeegee at the gas station, but this isn't enough to tackle the problem. That's because the "dirt" is actually on the inside of the vehicle, and common tools aren't effective in removing the residue.

Plasticizers are Ruining Your Vision

The culprit when dealing with the inside of a windshield is plasticizers. Although you don't normally see them, you know they're there because they're responsible for the "new car smell" so many people are fond of. As they work their way out of the vehicle's plastic components, like the dashboard, they coat the inside of the windshield with a yellowish plastic-like film that can't be removed with traditional tools.

Use the Right Tools for the Job

How to Clean the Inside of Your Windshield: Step-by-Step.

#1 Protect the Dash

Use extra microfiber towels or old household rags to protect your dash from accidental drips.

#2 Prime Your Scrubber and Windshield

Using your normal window or glass cleaner, give the scrubber a quick spritz to prepare it. Then, select one corner of the windshield to work on, and give it a couple of sprays too.

#3 Scrub Firmly, But Gently, from Top to Bottom

The plasticizer film will be stuck on pretty well, but your scrubber will cut through it. You'll want to use firm even strokes to pull it up, to ensure it becomes loose and doesn't just get pushed around from one area to the next.

#4 Wipe Away Residue with a Microfiber Cloth

Once the scrubber has done its magic, the residue should come right up with your microfiber cloth. Give your cloth a couple of squirts of glass cleaner and wipe the window in both directions, to make sure you're getting all the gunk up.

#5 Buff the Windshield with a Microfiber Cloth

To finish the first stage of cleaning, wipe away any remaining cleaner or residue using a clean and dry microfiber cloth. You can also use a specialty reach tool for this step. There are lots of different designs, but they all tend to have a triangular head with a low-pile cover and an arm to increase your reach. When you finish this, move onto the next corner of the windshield and repeat steps 2-5 until all four corners are done.

#6 Use Foam Cleaner for a Streak-Free Shine

Both traditional window/ glass cleaner and foam cleaners have a place and purpose. While traditional sprays work well for priming scrubbers and towels, as well as for removing the residue, foam cleaners tend to give you more control, extra time to work, and a more flawless finish. To start, spray a line of foam cleaner about one-third of the way down your windshield, from one side to the other.

#7 Work Top to Bottom

Clean the windshield using a microfiber towel or your reach tool, making sure to catch all areas, and wiping in both directions.

#8 Check Your Work

One of the biggest problems with plasticizer film is that it's hard to detect during the day, but it can totally distort your vision at night. Spend some extra time on the outside of your vehicle looking for missed spots and streaks to catch anything that might have slipped by.

Clean the Inside of Your Windshield Regularly

Although there isn't a proper schedule for interior windshield cleaning, you'll know when it needs to be done again. Newer vehicles tend to need it more frequently and you'll probably have to do it more often if you live in a hot climate, especially during the summer months. To be on the safe side, it's a good idea to do it monthly or more frequently if your windshield builds film faster.

About the Author

Kimberlea Buczeke is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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