How to Clean Windows on a Car

person wiping off car window with cloth

Keeping your vehicle’s windows and windshield clean can certainly be a tough task to maintain. Even if you do clean your car’s glass, you might end up with noticeable streaking and residue. Luckily, when cleaned correctly, streaking and other stains can be prevented, leaving your windows looking nice and clear. Read the steps below to learn how to clean your car’s windows and windshield efficiently!

Method 1 of 2: Using window cleaner

Materials Needed

Step 1: Choose your cleaner. Choose a cleaner that suits the type of dirt or stains that you see on your window.

dirt and debris on car window

If your car windows only have streaking, dirt, or debris from regular driving, choose a regular household glass cleaner, such as Stoner Invisible Glass for Window, Windshield, and Mirror.

water stains on a car glass window

If you have recently cleaned your car and notice water spot contamination, this issue cannot be fixed with regular household cleaners. Instead, opt for a quality glass polish product, such as Griot’s Garage Glass Polish.

  • Tip: If your car’s windows are covered in dirt or debris, it is best to wash your entire car before washing the vehicle’s windows.

hand spraying cleaner and wiping with newspaper

Step 2: Wipe the window. Spray your glass cleaner onto the windshield then use a folded sheet of newspaper to clean the glass, using a straight up-and-down, top-to-bottom motion.

  • Tip: Using newspaper is good for windows because it doesn’t leave streaks on and is grittier when it comes to removing dirt, bugs, and debris from the glass.

wiping down window with up and down motion

A straight up-and-down motion while wiping will help you evenly distribute the cleaner fully and minimize any potential streaking.

Be sure to apply extra pressure when going over particularly dirty or streaked spots.

  • Tip: When cleaning your windshield, it may be easiest for you to stand on one side of the car, cleaning the half of the windshield closest to you first, and then move to the opposite side to clean the remaining half of the glass.

hand wiping window with dry cloth

Step 3: Dry off any excess cleaner. Use a completely dry, soft cloth (preferably a dry microfiber towel) to wipe away any excess cleaner and fully dry off the glass of your car’s windows.

Again, use a straight up-and-down motion to ensure that the entire surface has been wiped down.

Within 10 minutes, you will know if you successfully dried your windows by checking if any streaking has appeared.

  • Tip: You may want to try fully cleaning and drying the windows on one side of your car before moving onto the other side or the windshield, as some cleaner may begin to dry unevenly if you try to clean and dry all windows at once.

Method 2 of 2: Using hot water

Materials Needed

  • Newspaper sheets
  • ½ Gallon of hot water
  • Soft cloth

Step 1: Heat up water. Hot water, when used properly, can often have the same cleaning effect as store-bought chemical cleaners.

You can obtain hot water from a faucet, hose, or bathtub. You may also heat water on a stove if this is more accessible for you.

You will want the water to be as hot as possible while still being able to dip your fingers in (around 80-95 degrees Fahrenheit).

hand squeezing hot water out of a rag onto the window

Step 2: Wipe the windows. Dip your soft cloth (preferably a microfiber towel) into hot water and generously wipe it onto your car windows and windshield.

Use a straight up-and-down, top-to-bottom motion to apply pressure and begin cleaning your windows.

This up-and-down motion will minimize any additional streaking, and will help ensure you’ve covered the entire area of the window or windshield.

hand using a folded piece of newspaper to wipe down window

Step 3: Dry off the window. Use a folded sheet of newspaper to wipe away any excess water that may be left on the glass of the window or windshield.

Remember, it is best to go over the area a few times with your folded newspaper to ensure dryness.

Cleaning the windows on your car will help you see your surroundings as you drive, allow passengers to enjoy the scenery, and help your car appear well-kept. By avoiding window streaks and using the materials in this guide, your windows will both look great and help you enjoy a clear view.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Car trouble?

Our mechanics make house calls.

  • Get a quote & book a service online
  • Save up to 30% compared to shops
  • Repairs, maintenance & diagnostics
  • 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty
GET A QUOTE

Excellent rating

Rating@3x

Need a mechanic?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 700 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

Get a quote

Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


Ask a question