You know your car windshield is important, but do you know how essential it is? That piece of glass – or rather, layers of laminated glass and plastic – provides a window to look through and it shields you from rocks, bugs, and other debris. Okay, you knew that already. But it also filters out UV rays from the sun. Knew that one too? How about the fact that your windshield is a structural safety component, part of the crashworthiness of your car; it helps to direct energy from a crash around the passenger compartment and away from the passengers. Pretty important!
So, keeping your windshield clean and clear on the outside is a no-brainer. Sure, there are some drivers who think they can motor along safely in the winter while looking through a peephole in the snow and ice, and some in the summer who stare through the mud (heck, there are people who eat their breakfast or apply their makeup while driving too). Still, most understand that a clean windshield is needed for safe driving.
But what about the inside? Like washing underneath your car, the inside of the windshield is easy to ignore. How do you go about cleaning the inside of your windshield? It is hard to reach. It hangs above the sensitive surface of the dashboard and adjacent to the even more sensitive fabric of the headliner. The inside of your windshield can get really dirty, just like the outside. And, like a dirty outside, a contaminated inside can impair your vision – sometimes even more.
What causes your windshield to get dirty on the inside?
It is obvious how your windshield gets dirty. It is susceptible to the same abuse as the rest of your vehicle’s exterior: dirt, mud, road tar, sap, bug residue, bird droppings, hard water spots, acid rain, and more. But what about the inside? It is not subject to those things.
Actually, your windshield is subject on the inside to contaminants that the outside is not. For instance, if you are a smoker (or you drive someone who is), residue from smoke inside the vehicle will permeate the seats, the carpet, and the fabric. And it will cling to your windshield.
Handprints and fingerprints from the kids, and nose prints and slobber from the dogs (and maybe from the kids) will also smear and stick to the windshield or any other interior glass they can get to.
Dust from outside the vehicle and dander from inside can coat surfaces. Mixed with vapors from breathing and sweating, dust will stick to your windshield.
And then there is the phenomenon of off-gassing. All of the plastics that comprise the inside of your car emit vapors for years. They give your car that “new car smell”. The dashboard, door panels, and other surfaces send out these vapors and they stick to your windshield. rain
Of course, any and all of these contaminants will dirty up every window in your car, not just the windshield. But the windshield is often the most difficult to clean. If you can do that, you can take care of the rest.
How to clean the inside of your windshield
Unlike the outside that gets cleaned every time you drive through the automatic car wash, the inside of your windshield sees less love. Maybe you are doing a “spring cleaning” for your car, or maybe you just can’t stand to strain to see through the glare and goo. In any case, how do you go about getting it clean?
First of all, you need to start with the right tools. They are not particularly technical or expensive tools. Still, if you use the wrong materials, you will have a hard time getting the job done.
Before you begin, gather several microfiber towels. If your windshield is especially polluted, you might look for a scrubbing pad that is safe for automotive glass (do not try to use a scotch-brite pad, steel wool, or other abrasive). You also might like to use a reach tool to get into the forward crevice where it is hard to reach, it is not required, but it might make your job a bit easier. And of course, you will need a spray-on or foaming glass cleaner – not household stuff, that contains ammonia that is damaging to your car. Use an automotive glass cleaner.
Also, before you get started, you should protect your dashboard. Today’s vehicles feature large dash panels with matte finishes. All of that real estate collects plenty of its own dirt. Unfortunately, if you use the wrong cleaner or car wash chemical on it, you can permanently stain or bleach the dashboard. Glass cleaner can harm some of the more sensitive dashboards. Cover up the dash with a few towels to keep the glass cleaner from dripping onto it.
Then, find a shady spot out of the sun if possible. That will keep the glass cleaner from drying too fast and keep the temperature down inside the vehicle.
(Read “Washing Your Car In Hot Weather”)
Next, apply glass cleaner liberally to a clean microfiber towel or to the scrubber. It is better to avoid spraying it onto the windshield, that way you can prevent overspray from landing on your skin or unintended surfaces and keep from breathing the vapors.
Starting at the top, wash a small section at a time and keep the surface wet until all of the residues have been lifted. Then, with a clean cloth, dry the surface in that area. Rub in multiple directions rather than one way. If your second, clean cloth turns up dirty, repeat the process with clean towels until they remain clean.
Work systematically, in a pattern across the windshield, overlapping sections as you go. Finish up by buffing with a clean microfiber towel until all dirt and streaks are gone.
Instead of microfiber towels, some enthusiasts prefer to clean the glass with newspaper. Newspapers produce an extremely clean and clear finish with no streaks. But they do have a downside. The ink on a newspaper can stain light-colored cloth on the headliner and windshield post trim. If you choose to wash with newspaper, keep these ideas in mind: select pages with as little ink as possible – no ads or large pictures; avoid folding the paper – wad it up randomly into a puffy ball instead; take care that shreds of paper do not get stuck in the cracks; stay clear of fabric coverings.
When selecting a glass cleaner, stick with a foam cleaner if possible. You might find that foam gives you a bit more control over a runny liquid cleaner.
When you are finished, look through the windshield from as many angles as possible to inspect your work. You will have a hard time doing so if you do not also clean the outside. Also, if you use a protectant (such as Rain-X) on the outside of your windshield, make sure that it is rated for interior use before applying it to the inside (some products produce an unwanted and unsafe glare on the inside).
Keep your car looking amazing. And keep your windshield clean and clear so you can look at whatever you like.
Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright
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