How To Clean Car Windows Without Smudges

How To Clean Car Windows Without Smudges

You’ve worked hard washing your car, and spent the afternoon applying waxes and polishes to make the paintwork shine again.

The wheels are slick and glistening, and the inside has that new car smell once again.

The only thing that looks out of place is the car windows, as they’re covered in streaks and smudges, even though you spent ages working on them.

The windows of your car are one of the most important parts, as not only do they give you the visibility to see the road and your surroundings, but they take up a huge portion of the car’s exterior as well.

Even with the cleanest and shiniest car, if your windows are smudged and looking lackluster, the whole effect will be ruined.

So, how you clean car windows without smudges?

The key to achieving a smudge-free window is more about the technique and cloth you use to clean it, and less about the type of cleaning agents you’re applying. Learning the right direction to move the cloth and how to prevent smudges can cut this job in half and ensure it sparkles without any streaks or marks.

We’ll show you how to clean water spots off car windows, achieve a streak-free finish, and the techniques you need to finally get your car’s window looking as good as the rest of it.

With our help, you’ll have all of the right gear to get the job done and proven methods for cleaning windows so your car washing efforts never have to be wasted again.


How Do Windows Get Smudges?

Dirty Car Window

Whether it’s your home or your car’s windows you’re dealing with, there seems to be an endless supply of smudges and streaks to be found.

Even after you spend ages cleaning, you’re likely to spot a streak that you missed somehow, and it throws off the whole look and undermines your hard work.

A window streak or smudge can be left behind by fingers, pets, cleaning products, and anything else that comes into contact with your car, containing a small amount of oil or another contaminant.

It usually starts as a small spot and is spread to create a large streak, and just one of them can create an unsightly look on your entire window.

Cleaning your window is another way that you can get smudges, which might sound like an oxymoron in itself.

When cleaning with an improper cloth, there’ll be minuscule pieces of fabric left behind on the glass.

Paper towel is one of the biggest offenders, leaving behind a film of white paper or cloudy look that might not be obvious from far away, but is very clear to see when you get close up.

Another cause of spots on windows is water droplets that have dried on there without being wiped off.

For cars, these can come from just about anywhere, whether it’s a recent car wash you’ve done or if you had your car in the rain at some point.

There’s always some way for these spots to appear, so it’s impossible to be smudge-free all the time, but you can reduce the likelihood of them appearing.

The Best Gear For A Smudge Free Window

Purple And Green Microfiber Towels

A common misconception is that the key to a clean window is choosing the right cleaning product, but this is incorrect.

The most important determining factor in a clear window, aside from the technique you use to clean, is the cloth you do it with.

There are some usual offenders in this category, and most of them occur when you’re performing a regular car cleaning.

Some people wash their windows with the same sponges and cloths that they used to clean the body of their car, and others use a paper towel to finish the job.

Both of these will only lead to further streaks and should be avoided at all costs.

A microfiber towel is your best defense against streaks, smudges, and spots on your car window, and you can find one made specifically for vehicles.

Microfiber is soft, absorbent, and effective at getting out even the toughest stains, so they’re perfect for windows.

You can purchase window specific cloths with two sides; one for gripping the dirt and removing grime, and the other for following it with a streak-free finish.

Proper Techniques For Window Cleaning

Just as important as the type of cloth you clean with, is the technique you use to clean it, and many people make the mistake of treating it just like any other part of the car.

There are two steps to take with window cleaning to ensure a smooth finish, including:

Aggressive cleaning of the window

Cleaning Car Windshield

Use a firm amount of pressure to clean the window with a cloth that’s been made wet with the right window cleaning product.

Scrub out marks, spots, and smudges with good force until it looks clean but still wet.

Drying of the window

Using a new, dry window cloth, dry off the cleaner you’ve previously applied.

Use a circular motion to work out any smudges and streaks that remain, and don’t stop until the window is completely dry and buffed to perfection.

The Different Types of Window Cleaners

The window cleaning products you use on the car are important, but mean nothing without the right technique and cleaning cloth.

Once you have those sorted, you can then decide which of these window cleaners you’ll want to use:

Natural cleaner

These contain natural ingredients and are designed to be gentle on windows.

White vinegar and distilled water and two popular choices for a natural window cleaner, and it’s easy enough to make at home.

General auto glass cleaner

These are designed only for use on car windows, windshields, and mirrors.

They’re powerful enough to cut through the oil and smudges but don’t contain any other harsh ingredients that can damage the rest of the car, including the paintwork.

Glass treatments

A glass treatment is designed to be an extra level of protection for your vehicle.

They might include things like a water repellant compound that stops water beading on the car, or an anti-fog treatment to clear windows that aren’t responding to regular cleaning.

Tips On How To Avoid Smudges When Cleaning

Cleaning Windshield From Inside

To make car window cleaning easier, we’ve got some helpful tips you can keep in mind the next time you’re doing the job.

Check out these tips for a smudge-free finish on your pride and joy:

  • The timing of when you wash your car will have a huge impact on how clean you get the window. If the weather is too hot outside, the waters and cleaners will dry faster, leaving spots and smudges on the window. Opt for a cloudy, cooler day and out of direct sunlight for the best results.
  • Have one cloth reserved for cleaning your car windows and never let it be used for anything else. Even the slightest hint of other harmful cleaners or detergents can be enough to contaminate the cloth and cause spots and streaks on your windows the next time you use it.
  • Avoid using any household window cleaners on your car’s exterior or interior. These contain ammonia which can affect the paint surface of your car, and leave a harmful residue behind.

Related Questions

A car with clean windows is not only beneficial to you as the driver, but also has a great impact on the look of your car from the outside.

As one of the trickiest parts to get completely clean, it can take some practice to do right.

We’ve answered some FAQs about car windows that might help make it easier to achieve.

How Do I remove Fog From Windshield?

Sometimes the problem with a window is coming from the inside, and if your car seems to have a constant layer of fog on it, it’s usually on the interior side of the window.

If a regular auto glass cleaner isn’t working, you can use an anti-fog treatment.

This provides a deep clean and then adds a layer of protection against residue which will prevent the fog from appearing in the future.

Can You Clean Windows With Newspaper?

Newspaper pages are a common household product that people use to clean windows in their homes, but it should be avoided in your car.

The best products for cleaning car windows are those made specifically for vehicles, including cleaning agents and microfiber cloths.

This prevents any lint or paper residues and gives the deepest clean possible.

What is the Best For Cleaning Inside Car Windows?

Using an auto window cleaning product is the safest approach for cleaning inside and outside windows of your car and will deliver the best results.

These products are usually gentle on other surfaces, including those inside your car like plastic, vinyl, and leather, so there’s no harm if they come into contact with them.

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