I love glittery and glimmery imagery or bokeh lights as much as the next person. However, I don’t like it when I’m driving at night and lights and signs refract through my windshield. The culprit? Ickiness on the inside of my windshield.
However, if you’ve ever tried to clean the inside of your car’s windshield, you know that a body contortionist or a gymnast may be better suited for the task.
So, sneezing marathons aside, what can cause a gross interior windshield? Our cars usually have vinyl (and we’re not talking P!nk’s latest album) or plastic dashboards. Some cars have leather dashboards, but if you can afford one of those, you wouldn’t be reading this, as you’d simply ask Jeeves to clean it for you. When heated, plastic and vinyl dashboards emit oily grossness that leave a film.
Here are my tried and true steps for keeping the inside of a windshield as clear as a summer’s day. (Though to be technical, clean your windows on a cloudy, but dry day, because excess heat will cause your glass cleaner to dry too quickly and cause streaks.)
First things first, is your windshield tinted? If not, here’s what you’ll need: microfiber cloths, rubbing alcohol or a magic eraser product, and non-streak glass cleaner. Or you can opt for a DIY version.
It may sound counterintuitive, but clean the exterior of the windshield first. It makes IDing the source of the streaks so much easier! You’re also checking for possible cracks, even hairline splits. If that’s the case, stop reading now because cleaning could actually cause more issues. Your windshield may need to be replaced.
Wipe the inside windshield with a microfiber cloth. But beware contact with the dashboard, as it harbors oils. And once that cloth touches the dash, it’s essentially over for that cloth, as we don’t want an oily cloth to cause streaks on the windshield. Contort your hand to the best of your ability to reach all corners of the inside windshield.
Now, time for the actual cleaning to begin! Contain your excitement. Take a moment to center your chi before we begin. On a budget? (To be fair, it’s safe to assume we’re all on budgets.) Apply isopropyl rubbing alcohol or your DIY cleaning agent onto a clean microfiber cloth. Using circular motions, clean the interior windshield in sections. Dry the areas with another clean microfiber cloth.
If opting for the magic erase method, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The only caveat is there can be chemical cleaning agents in the erasers. So it’s important to immediately dry the area of the windshield you just cleaned and pay heed not to let any drips onto the dash, as it can cause discoloration if you allow it to dry.
Spray glass cleaner onto a microfiber cloth and using those circular motions we perfected before, clean the windshield, even that abhorrent space where the dashboard and windshield meet. It’s the part of your car where the evil goes to hide.
Using the dry side, wipe the windshield from top to bottom.
By now, your untinted interior windshield should be clean as a whistle – though now in retrospect, I’m unsure how to clean a whistle. That’s perhaps subject matter for another article. (Insert thinking emoji here.)
Now, the process for tinted windows is slightly different. Just got your windows tinted? You’re going to want to wait at least 72 hours before cleaning the interior of the windshield. The cleaning process for tinted windshields is very similar to cleaning an untinted windshield. The most important difference is to use an ammonia-free cleaner. Many DIY versions use either ammonia or diluted vinegar, typically with water, so avoid the ammonia formulas.
A few last tips:
- Best practices always involve a microfiber cloth. Little to no dust attaches to the fibers, so it’s great for cleaning glass. It’s obvious, but just in case, it needs to be clean and dry. Picking up a multipack is a great option.
- Don’t use paper towels. They’re made of paper and the small lint particles they’ll inevitably leave behind essentially erase all of your hard work!
- Ironically, glass wipes aren’t ideal either, as they are very moist and will leave streaks behind after drying.
- Use a spray bottle versus an aerosol, as spray bottles typically don’t drip. It also ensures an even distribution of cleaning solutions.
- A handy tip is using a handheld vac if you have one to vacuum dust and debris on your dash where it meets the windshield.
Whether the issue is smoke residue building up in the car, that inevitable random sneeze, or grimy fingerprints, follow these steps for a window so clean you won’t be able to tell where the inside ends and the outside begins!
Feature Image by Junior REIS on Unsplash