Best Car Glass Cleaner
Nothing beats the look and clarity of clean car glass. But if paint deserves special care, glass surfaces need advanced cleaning as well. For that, you’ll need to include the best car glass cleaner in your detailing arsenal.
What better way to finish up a freshly detailed ride than by cleaning and detailing the windows and windshield? Clean glass will not only make your car look better, but it will improve visibility as well, which leads to a safer drive in any kind of weather, come rain or shine.
Unlike waxing or polishing the paint, car glass needs to be clean from both the inside and outside. Exterior glass (particularly the windshield) is exposed to outside elements and can accumulate a fair share of dirt, insects, and contaminants.
On the other hand, the interior glass is prone to hazing caused by changes in temperature and the evaporation of chemicals from plastics, leather, and vinyl surfaces in the interior.
Why is car glass hard to clean?
The glass surfaces in your vehicle might look smooth when viewed with the naked eye. But as exterior glass is exposed to environmental elements, the surface of the glass will develop microscopic pits. If viewed with said microscope, you will see peaks and valleys instead of a smooth and consistent surface.
This is the reason why the glass on older cars (or severely neglected vehicles) are so hard to clean. Those pits and valleys will make it hard to remove dirt, fingerprints, and smudges without using a dedicated glass cleaner.
But that’s not all, glass is hydrophilic by nature. It means the surface naturally attracts water. As water makes contact with the glass, the liquid will spread out to form a thin sheet of water on the surface. As the water evaporates, it will leave behind all the mineral deposits on the glass.
The result is dirty or hazy glass courtesy of salt, calcium, minerals, heavy metals, grime, soap scum, and other contaminants embedded on the surface of the glass.
Can I use car shampoo to clean auto glass?
Technically, yes. Water mixed with car shampoo can definitely clean exterior glass. But there are two problems with this.
First, it will be hard to clean the interior side of the glass using a wet and foamy wash mitt, unless you don’t mind smearing the dashboard and door panels with car shampoo.
But, there’s also an issue with residue. Car shampoo is formulated with foamy surfactants. While this is great for removing dirt and smudge, it tends to leave an ugly and streaky residue, which can be extremely difficult to remove, especially on the glass.
These are the reasons why professional detailers insist on using the best glass cleaner to get the job done. Glass cleaners are non-abrasive and are strong enough to safely remove dirt without leaving streaks.
Best Car Glass Cleaner – Top 4
Here is a look at the best car glass cleaner on the market right now:
- Stoner Invisible Glass
- Gtechniq G6 Perfect Glasss
- Sonax Xtreme Glass Cleaner Nano Pro
- Auto Finesse Crystal Glass Cleaner
There are ordinary glass cleaners and there is the Stoner Invisible Glass. This is by far the best glass cleaner for cars. This product contains no soap, foam, artificial scents, dyes, and strong surfactants that can cause streaking. It is quick and easy to use while leaving behind a streak-free shine on both tinted and clear glass.
Stoner Invisible Glass is also one of the most powerful glass cleaners for cars. It can effortlessly remove dust, dirt, insects, tree sap, grease, oil, fingerprints, and haze in a single wipe. The formula is engineered to evaporate quickly so you can buff the windows, windscreen, and side mirrors without applying copious amounts of elbow grease.
Perhaps my only caveat with the Stoner Invisible Glass is the brittle plastic bottle. It has a tendency to break or crack easily. The spray handle is also a bit flimsy, which is probably understandable given the affordable price of this glass cleaner. If the bottle or the spray handle breaks, I simply pour the entire contents into a generic bottle. Problem solved!
Similar to Stoner Invisible Glass, the Gtechniq G6 Perfect Glass is formulated without using soap, solvents, fragrances, and dyes. This glass cleaner is as pure as they come and is guaranteed not to smear or streak.
But, the strong cleaning action is only a part of the story. The Gtechniq G6 Perfect Glass is an anti-static glass cleaner. This means the cleaner will create a positive charge on the surface of the glass to help repel dust and dirt after cleaning the surface.
The only downside to the Gtechniq G6 Perfect Glass is the expensive price. It is among the costliest in this list of the best car glass cleaners. However, it remains one of the most effective cleaners for interior and exterior glass.
If you want an all-around glass cleaner, take a closer look at the Sonax Xtreme Glass Cleaner Nano Pro. It is a powerful glass cleaner for the car, home, or office. It can readily lift off insect residue, dirt, and road film on exterior glass. The strong cleaning formula can also get rid of fingerprints and nicotine residue on interior glass surfaces.
But there are two things that make the Sonax Xtreme Glass Cleaner Nano Pro stand out. It comes with an affordable price and a little of the product can go a long way. It is also the only glass cleaner in this list that leaves behind an invisible Nano coating. This enables the treated surface to repel dirt, dust, and water so they will be easier to clean the next time around.
With these attributes, the Sonax Xtreme Glass Cleaner Nano Pro is an excellent glass cleaner for the home as well. I personally use this product on my shower door and bathroom mirror.
The Auto Finesse Crystal is a highly concentrated glass cleaner. Unlike cheap detergent-based glass cleaners, this product is formulated with a careful blend of mildly distilled solvents. The fast-flashing alcohol-based formula is safe to use on all glass surfaces including mirrors, polycarbonate or acrylic windows, and tinted glass.
This glass cleaner is strong enough to get rid of dirt, oil, and contaminants. However, the alcohol-based formula is quick to dry and leaves behind a clean, clear, and streak-free finish.
But as with all alcohol or solvent-based cleaners, this product is extremely flammable. It is also among the most expensive glass cleaners in this list. But the common complaint with Auto Finesse Crystal is the weak spray head. It can break easily if you’re not gentle in squeezing the trigger.
What is the best towel to use for cleaning car glass?
Due to the crystal-clear nature of automotive glass, simply having the best car glass cleaner is not enough. You’ll need a fresh and clean towel to do the job right.
Here’s the truth: in most cases, you can safely clean glass without using spray glass cleaners, but only if you’re armed with a waffle weave microfiber towel. Of course, this only holds true for lightly soiled or mildly dirty glass.
The trick is to have a separate set of towels for cleaning exterior and interior glass. What I like to use for glass cleaning is a medium-pile microfiber towel with an 80/20 blend of microfiber.
Microfiber towels with thicker and fluffier piles are designed for drying or absorbing the liquid. On the other hand, low-pile glass towels or medium-pile microfiber are best used for intensive cleaning.
How to Clean Car Glass
It all starts with the wash. After washing and drying the vehicle, you can proceed to clean the exterior glass. If you’re planning to detail the vehicle, the glass should be cleaned after (and not before) compounding, polishing, and/or waxing in case of overspray.
Inspect the windows and windshield after washing and drying the car. Run your bare hands over the surface of the glass. If you feel the surface is rough, it is better to use a clay bar before anything else.
Yes, clay bars are not only good for paint. You can also use them on all glass surfaces.
In some cases (or if the glass is overly rough, scratched, or hazy), the glass will need to be polished using a machine polisher and glass polish.
If the glass is relatively smooth (in the case of newer cars), skip to step five.
Spray a liberal amount of glass cleaner directly on exterior glass. This will serve as the lubricant for the clay bar.
Grab a small amount of clay and gently wipe over wet glass using up and down motions. Apply more glass cleaner if required.
Take a closer look at the clay bar after treating the glass. You will see all the embedded dirt and contaminants that were lifted from the surface.
Wipe off the excess liquid using a microfiber towel.
At this point, the glass will be smoother than before. The final step is to give it a final wipe. Give the glass a final spray and wipe off the excess with a microfiber towel to reveal a crystal clear finish!
When cleaning interior glass, make sure the glass cleaner is ammonia free. Ammonia is great for making quick work of dirt and grease, but it is not intended for tinted glass.
Grab a dry microfiber towel and fold it in half. Saturate the towel by giving it two or three spritzes of glass cleaner. Wipe the glass gently in back and forth motions. Turn the towel over and give it a final buff to reveal a sparkling clear finish.
Never apply or spray the glass cleaner directly on interior glass. You might end up having overspray all over the dashboard and interior trim.