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A person in a red shirt is shown wiping down a windshield after using the best car glass cleaners.

How to Keep Your Car’s Windows and Glass Clean

When it comes to proper car care, certain things are definitely more complicated than others; replacing brakes is more complex than an oil change, which is also more involved than simply cleaning your vehicle. And yet, each of these things is still vital in its own way—something like cleaning your windows might seem silly or unimportant compared to a routine oil change, but it’s really not. Keeping your windows clean, particularly the windshield, is very important since it directly affects how well you can see around you. It may sound dramatic, but a streaky window that’s hard to see through, especially at night, could be the difference between a dangerous collision and getting home safely.

So today, we’re going to take a look at the best car glass cleaners to use on your windshield and windows—these are for both internal and external use. You’ll want to get a different cleaner for things like your interior infotainment or cluster displays, so keep that in mind. First, we’ll go over some basics for cleaning your vehicle’s windows, and then we’ll get into some specific products you should consider before your next cleaning.

Basic Materials for Cleaning Your Car Windows

Before you start washing your car’s windows and glass, you must ensure you have the proper materials and equipment to get the job done. Depending on your situation, a vacuum cleaner or shop vac with a hose attachment can greatly help; you’ll also want some clean rags and microfiber cleaning cloths. These cloths are very important to ensure you get a good streak-free clean on your windows and avoid damaging them. Don’t use paper towels—they can scratch your windows and leave streaks more easily. You’ll also need a glass cleaner, but we’ll get into that below.

The Proper Method for Getting the Cleanest Windows

The first thing you need to do is clear off any dirt, debris, and dust from your windows while dry; this is where a vacuum can come in handy. If there are large bits of debris like leaves, twigs, and similar things, then using a vacuum with a hose attachment can be much easier than grabbing each thing individually. You should then go over the windows without any cleaner, using a dry microfiber cleaning cloth to clean dust and dirt off it before you spray—otherwise, you’ll end up wiping dirt and grime into the window and make your job harder.

Once you’ve done that, focus on one window at a time: spray an appropriate amount of cleaner onto the window, give it a moment, and then wipe it off using a microfiber cloth. You want to wipe either up and down or side to side—moving in circles is more likely to result in streaks. Depending on the type of cleaner you use, you’ll need to put more or less effort into the actual cleaning process, but be patient and really wipe at it a good amount to get all of the dust or dirt off that’s still lingering. After you’ve cleaned your windows well, you should go back over them one more time with a dry microfiber cloth to buff them; this eliminates any streaks and clears the windows.

You can essentially follow this same process for cleaning your windows on the inside too. It’s a good idea to spray the microfiber cloth you use directly when cleaning inside, rather than the window, to avoid spraying cleaner all over your interior. And then, once again, after cleaning all the windows inside, go over them with a dry cloth to buff them and remove any streaks that might have been left behind. Now, let’s look at which glass cleaners work best for cars, so you know what to use.

A person is shown cleaning a side window.

The Best Car Glass Cleaners to Consider

First, you should ensure that any glass or window cleaner you use on your vehicle is ammonia-free. There are two reasons for this: one, ammonia can damage and even destroy window tinting; two, ammonia is bad for you, and if you use ammonia-based cleaners while inside your vehicle, it can be harmful. So make sure any glass cleaner you use doesn’t have ammonia in it. Which ones are good? Well…

3M Glass Cleaner

This is one of the most expensive options you’ll find when looking at car glass cleaners, but it’s also one of the best. It creates foam where you spray it, which keeps it in place so you don’t have to worry about it dripping, and it’s easy to be precise on any small windows your vehicle has. It’s simple to use, works beautifully, and feels quite smooth after it dries.

Rain-X Cerami-X

If you’re interested in a ceramic glass cleaner, then this is the way to go. Ceramic cleaners require a bit more elbow grease and effort to use, but the result is gorgeously clear and leaves a hydrophobic coating that causes rain to bead and slide off effortlessly. This can be a great choice if you live somewhere with a lot of rain, even if you only use it on your windshield.

Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner

For a result that’s almost as good as the foamy spray of the 3M Glass Cleaner, this product from Meguiar’s is a traditional spray that creates beautiful results. It lives up to its name with incredible clarity, and it’s easy to use with a wide spray that’s perfect for big windshields, rear glass, and side windows. If you’re looking for a conventional liquid spray rather than foam, then this is a fantastic way to go.

A person is shown cleaning the inside of a windshield.

Invisible Glass

Although the results of Invisible Glass aren’t quite as good as the 3M or Meguiar’s products, it’s incredibly affordable. This is the least expensive option we’re looking at, yet it still delivers great results that are very clear, with a large spray pattern that’s easy to use. The biggest drawback with this one is that it tends to have a bit more grip to it after it dries, which can result in dirt sticking more easily to your windows, and they’ll get dirty again sooner than some of the other cleaners we’ve looked at. For half or one-third the price, that might be worth it.

Rain-X Glass Cleaner + Rain Repellent

If you’re looking for something to keep water off your windows but don’t want to go through the extra effort of using a ceramic glass cleaner, this is the one for you. The results are nearly as good as the Cerami-X one, with a very slick surface after use, plus it’s often available at a lower price than the Cerami-X. You’ll probably need to do a bit of extra wiping and buffing with this one, compared to something like Invisible Glass, but the water-beading results are excellent.

Keep Your Windows Clean and Drive Safely

Those five options should provide a solution for any need, though there are certainly more products out there. To be clear, you should definitely not use something like Windex—yes, it has the name-brand recognition, but its traditional formula also has ammonia in it, and even ammonia-free versions simply aren’t as good as any of the ones listed above.

Remember that you can always use a couple of these; you may want the 3M for thorough cleanings once a month, while you use Invisible Glass for quick wipes here and there as needed. Or perhaps you want the Rain-X Cerami-X for certain times of the year when you get more rain, and then you stick to Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity for the rest of the year. It’s entirely up to you, so long as you keep your windows, windshield, and rear glass clear and clean so you can see traffic around you and stay safe on the road.