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How To Clean Your Car’s Glass Without Scratching It

August 12, 2020

How To Clean Your Car’s Glass Without Scratching It

Not long ago, in all of the confusion surrounding COVID-19, it was reported that a couple, a man and wife, ingested a chemical in hopes of staving off the coronavirus because the ingredient sounded something like a drug that was purported to treat the illness. The chemical they consumed was designed for cleaning fish tanks. Tragically, the man died. Why? Because something that is meant for one purpose is not always suited to another, no matter how similar.

Cleaning the glass on your car is not the same as cleaning the windows in your house. Yes, your windshield and door windows are made of glass, and the windows overlooking your backyard are made of glass. But they are not made of the same glass, they are not subject to the same contaminants, and they are not adjacent to the same surfaces.

If you want to clean the glass on your vehicle without causing scratches and without damaging sensitive surfaces surrounding it, then follow these tips.

Materials

We sure love our all-purpose, all-in-one tools. From Swiss Army knives to print/fax/scan devices to multi-purpose cleaners. But when it comes to detailing your car like a pro to keep it looking amazing, one product does not do it all. For instance, there is one car wash chemical for cleaning your alloy wheels. There is another one for cleaning your carpet. One chemical dresses your convertible top, and another your leather seats. One size does not fit all.

So, for your automotive glass, the first tip is to use an automotive glass cleaner.

Some people are tempted to use the household glass cleaner they already have. That is a mistake. Many glass cleaners contain ammonia, which does a great job cutting grease and evaporating quickly but can cause damage to your car. Ammonia not only releases dangerous fumes inside your car (that you should not inhale), but it dries out plastic, rubber, vinyl, and leather – all of which are parts of a car interior. Ammonia can also destroy the tint on your windows. Any product containing ammonia should be avoided when working on your car.

But even a household glass cleaner without ammonia is insufficient for cleaning car glass. Ammonia helps glass cleaner to evaporate, which helps to prevent streaking. Ammonia-free household glass cleaner is known for leaving streaks, streaks that you do not need impairing your vision on the road. Besides, household cleaners are formulated for the contaminants found in and on a house, not those on a car.

Another car detailing tip for cleaning your windows is to use a soft microfiber towel rather than sponges, cotton rags, terry cloth towels, or paper towels. Microfiber is gentle on the glass, whereas other fabrics used for wiping are coarse. Your bath towel might not seem rough after a shower, but tell that to your dull paint or your hazy glass after it has been scratched by your towel. And adding fabric softener only makes it worse (just ask an optician).

So, automotive glass cleaner with a microfiber towel dedicated to the glass.

Technique

Just as important as the materials you use is the way you use them. If your windshield is exceptionally dirty or is splattered with bug residue, pre-wash the glass before you perform a final cleaning. Actually, the glass should be the last thing you clean when washing or detailing your vehicle, so it should be relatively clean already. But if you are cleaning only the glass, pre-clean it to remove heavy contaminants, and use a separate microfiber cloth.

Likewise, if your windows are stained with hard water spots. Treat the spots before doing a final cleaning.

Apply the glass cleaner to the cloth rather than spray it on the glass. That way, you will avoid getting overspray on other surfaces that you just cleaned. If you are cleaning the inside of your windshield, you might consider covering the dash with a towel to keep from marring the surface or dripping glass cleaner on it.

Work a relatively small section at a time. An advantage of automotive glass cleaner over, say, plain water, is that it evaporates to help the process along. Water is safe on your glass, but it does not cut through grime (especially oily or greasy grime) and it does not dry quickly; it leaves streaks. But that is not to say that you want the glass cleaner to dry on its own. Work an area small enough that you can keep the glass wet until you dry it with the microfiber cloth. That might mean a quarter of a windshield or one side window at a time.

Move in multiple directions. Avoid small circles that leave swirls behind. And do not work all in one direction. Use sweeping strokes that overlap and criss-cross.

While not always practical, it is best if you can clean the outside of a window and follow it up with the inside of the same window. That allows you to get a better view of streaks and identify whether they are on the inside or the outside. If you, for instance, clean all of the exterior glass and then do the interior, you will find that you have to go back to the outside anyway and cause a lot more work for yourself.

While you are cleaning the windows, remember to clean the side mirrors and the rearview mirror as well.

Things to Avoid

When you are cleaning the glass on your car, truck, or SUV, it is important to use the right materials, automotive glass cleaner and microfiber towels. It is also important to do it in the proper manner to avoid scratching the glass or damaging sensitive surfaces adjacent to the glass. But it is equally important to avoid certain practices.

For one, avoid working in the direct sunlight. You might not be able to avoid washing your car in hot weather, but you do need to keep it out of the sun.

Also, avoid spraying glass cleaner on freshly washed and waxed surfaces. If you are using the right glass cleaner, you will not damage those surfaces, but you will defeat your purpose. There should be no need to go back and buff panels you already completed. Spray the cleaner on your cloth instead.

Some automotive enthusiasts prefer to clean the glass with newspaper. Microfiber is better, but if you do use newspaper, make sure it has as little ink as possible. The classifieds are a better bet than the funny pages. And be extremely careful to avoid staining the sensitive cloth of the headliner or windshield post trim.

If you have ever driven through a soft-touch automatic car wash, you will have noticed that there are a host of treatments on the way through the tunnel. That is because cleaning each area of your car needs a different product for treatment to be effective. One size does not fit all. Your doctor will not prescribe something to clean your fish tank; don’t make the mistake of using household products to clean your car.

(Read How To Keep Your Car Cleaned and Organized)

Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright

This article is intended only as a general guidance document and relying on its material is at your sole risk. By using this general guidance document, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash and its affiliates from and against any and all claims, damages, costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising from or related to your use of this guidance document. To the extent fully permissible under applicable law, Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the information, content, or materials included in this document. This reservation of rights is intended to be only as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the laws of your State of residence.

COLUMBIA AUTO CARE & CAR WASH
|
Copyright

This article is intended only as a general guidance document and relying on its material is at your sole risk. By using this general guidance document, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash and its affiliates from and against any and all claims, damages, costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising from or related to your use of this guidance document. To the extent fully permissible under applicable law, Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the information, content, or materials included in this document. This reservation of rights is intended to be only as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the laws of your State of residence.