How to Clean the Inside of a Windshield (and 5 Reasons Why It Gets Dirty)

Last Updated on April 25, 2022

There are few things more frustrating than trying to get where you’re going, only to realize you can barely see through the windshield.

Maybe you tried the windshield wipers and washing fluid to no avail. Perhaps you’ve thrown on the defrosters and realized it doesn’t make a difference.

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It’s not until you notice that the inside of your windshield is dirty that you find yourself with a dilemma. How’d that grime get there, and how do you get it off?

We’ll break down everything you need to know to get your windshield looking like new in no time!

See Also: 4 Reasons You Have Squeaky Wipers

What Causes the Interior Windshield to Get Dirty?

dirty and hazy windshield

While it makes perfect sense as to why the outside of your windshield can get dirty as you’re driving down, it’s only natural to wonder how all the muck and grime found its way to the inside the windshield.

But the truth is that there are a few different ways the interior of your windshield can get dirty. And while there are some ways to slow down the dirt and grime, you’ll never be able to eliminate it entirely.

Below we’ve highlighted a few different ways the inside of your windshield can get dirty.

#1 – Touching the Windshield

adjusting mirror

It might not seem like something you do all that often, but anytime you’re touching the inside of your windshield, you’re leaving behind an oily film that you’ll need to clean off later.

This can happen when you’re adjusting the rearview mirror, setting up your GPS, flicking off a bug, or about a million other things.

Another common reason for someone touching the windshield is when passengers put their feet up on the dash. While they should avoid doing this because of safety concerns if you get into an accident, another side effect is you can end up leaving smudges on the windshield!

#2 – Entering and Exiting Your Vehicle

It’s another thing you don’t really think about, but every time you open or close the door you’re letting outside contaminants into your vehicle. This is especially true on windy days, but it can happen whenever.

Each time you open the door it doesn’t let in much, but after hundreds and thousands of times of opening and closing the door, it adds up.

#3 – Keeping the Windows Down

roll windows down

It works the same way as when you enter and exit your vehicle, even if the opening isn’t as large on your car windows. Compounding the issue is if you’re driving with your car windows down. That’s because this naturally generates wind, and the more wind there is, the more stuff gets inside your car.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drive with your windows down though, just keep in mind that it can cause a little grime and dirt to build upon the inside of your windshield.

See Also: How to Get Ants Out of Your Car

#4 – Dirty Cabin Air Filter

dirty cabin air filter

Defrosters help keep your windows clear while you’re driving, but eventually, they can blow a different kind of debris onto your windshield.

This can come from dust and particulates that settle into the vents, or it can come from deeper inside the A/C system. One of the best ways to keep this from happening is to clean and change the cabin air filter regularly as it will help clean out dust and other fine materials from reaching the vents and spraying onto your windshield.

#5 – Off-Gassing

This happens most with newer vehicles but because synthetic products are used in many parts of a vehicle’s interior, off-gassing (chemicals from surfaces are released into the air) is a common occurrence. Dashboards, seats, trim, floor mats, and even carpet contain various synthetic products.

When off-gassing occurs, the windshield and other windows can get a filmy residue and even fog up. Off-gassing eventually stops on its own but it can take years for that to happen.

Best Way to Clean the Inside Windshield

best way to clean inside windshield

Once you have a bit of grime on the inside of your windshield, side windows, rear window, or moonroof, then you need to find a way to get it off. The truth is that while there’s a lot of debate about which products or formulas are the best to clean off your windshield, the best way to clean your windshield all comes to the basics.

Simply get your cleaning solution or product, spray it on a clean microfiber towel, wipe down the glass, and dry it off using another clean microfiber towel. In the majority of cases, that’s all you’ll need.

See Also: Best Windshield Repair Kits

What You’ll Need

The last thing you want to do is get started on the job only to realize that you don’t have what you need. And while you don’t need much, it’s important that you use the right stuff.

By far the most important thing you need are microfiber towels. Don’t skimp and use a paper towel or other non-microfiber product, as these can scratch and damage your windshield no matter how careful you are.

How to Clean the Interior Windshield

When you’re ready to get your windshield looking like new, you’ll want to follow this step-by-step guide to get the job done. Take your time, follow each step, and don’t cut corners. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself right back where you started and have to do it all over again!

#1 – Prepare the Windshield

microfiber towels

It’s one of the most important steps, but it’s also one of the most skipped. Before doing anything, you need to wipe down the windshield with a dry microfiber cloth to remove any excess dirt or grime.

If you skip this step you won’t get the results you’re looking for, and you might even end up with a windshield that has a streakier or grimier appearance than when you started!

#2 – Apply Some Rubbing Alcohol

This is another often overlooked and skipped step, but it’ll do wonders to give your windshield that perfect appearance when you finish the job. Even the best car window cleaner has a hard time with oily residue so you’ll need some help.

Apply a little bit of rubbing alcohol (aka: isopropyl alcohol) to a clean microfiber towel and wipe down the inside of the windshield to help remove any grime or oily residues from your windshield. The alcohol acts as a degreaser for glass.

A 1:1 ratio of isopropyl alcohol and water in a spray bottle is ideal but you may use a small amount of isopropyl alcohol full strength as well.

#3 – Use the Cleaning Solution

glass cleanersWhether you’re using a homemade solution or a top-notch cleaning solution like Stoner Invisible Glass or Sprayway, ensure you spray it directly onto a microfiber cloth (instead of the windshield).

This gives you the best possible results while ensuring that you don’t spray too much or get the spray all over the dash.

Optional: For vehicles with deep dashes which make it hard to reach the bottom glass, a windshield cleaner wand is recommended.

#4 – Dry the Windshield

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the windshield with your microfiber cloth and cleaning solution, you need to use another dry microfiber cloth to ensure that everything is completely dry. Once it’s all 100% dry, you finished the job and are good to go!

Additional Tips

One of the most important things you can do if you’re trying to get your windshield perfectly clean is to use a good car window cleaner.

Because there are so many options out there, we wanted to help narrow it down for you by highlighting two of our favorite choices, Stoner Invisible Glass and Sprayway. Either of these cleaners can get your windows looking like new, no matter what you’re dealing with.

No matter how clean you get the inside of the windshield, if you have water spots on the outside glass, you’ll have to spend some time removing those before having a crystal clear windshield.

As a final tip, ensure that you properly prepare the surface before applying your cleaning solution. While we already included it in our step-by-step guide, it’s such an important step (and often gets skipped) that we wanted to highlight it again.

These cleaning solutions work best on a properly prepared windshield, and if you’re trying to cut corners to get the job done a little faster, you likely won’t get the results you want!

Read Also: How to Remove Decals From Glass

Do Window Cleaning Wands Actually Help?

glass cleaning wandWhile you can certainly do just as good of a job without a window cleaning wand as you can with one, there’s little doubt they make it a bit easier to do a good job.

They do this in a couple of different ways. First, they make it easier to reach across the entirety of the window in one pass, which helps prevent streaks and ensures that you hit every spot. Next, window cleaning wands also make it easier to hit the corners and edges of windows.

While you can certainly find other ways to clean these edges, depending on the design of your windshield and the amount of space you have, a window cleaning wand can make things a lot easier. Outside of that, window cleaning wands don’t do any better than a regular microfiber towel.

 

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