Readers Write

Reader Advice: How to clean your windscreen

It’s not just the outside of your windscreen that gets grimy… here’s how one reader suggests you should clean the inside of your windscreen.

THE SUN LOW on the horizon. Swirling mist playing tricks with visibility. An unfamiliar road. Oncoming traffic and a grubby windscreen that only gets worse as you desperately swipe at it with the back of your hand, an old tissue or a stray jumper.

We all know that feeling of rising panic that comes with unsuccessfully trying to clean a filthy windscreen while driving. It’s dangerous and the only solution is to stop safely and do a proper job.

But what is the best way of cleaning the inside of your car’s windscreen?

It’s simple really. Here’s what to do:

  1. Clean the outside of the windscreen first so that you can see any grimy spots on the inside. Always clean your vehicle’s windows in a shady or undercover spot. If the glass is hot from the sun, the cleaning product will evaporate quickly and leave unwanted smudges or spotty residue.
  2. Then wipe the glass down with a clean and dry microfibre cloth to get rid of any surface dust or grit. Why microfibre?  It’s lint-free and gently abrasive, so it won’t leave any fluff behind and won’t scratch the glass. A microfibre cloth can hold up to eight times its weight in water and it uses an electrostatic charge to lift dirt up and away from the surface. Don’t use newspaper or paper towel. The water-based inks used in today’s newspapers will leave black marks on your hands and smudges on the glass, whilst paper towel will give off  tiny bits of fluff that are impossible to clean up.
  3. Spray another microfibre cloth with rubbing alcohol and then wipe the glass to get rid of any greasy build-up. Remember NOT to use your cloths to clean up any drops or dirt on the dashboard because that will only make your windscreen dirtier!  Chemicals and oils from the vinyl and other plastics on the dashboard and in your vehicle’s interior can leach onto the windscreen, especially in the hotter months, so you want to avoid transferring those onto the glass.  Cigarette smoke can also add another grubby layer to your car’s windscreen.
  4. Then take either automotive glass cleaner (ammonia-free) or put a weak solution of vinegar and water or warm water with a drop of household dishwashing liquid into a pump or trigger bottle and spray it onto another clean and dry microfibre cloth. Don’t spray directly onto the glass because that just creates more work for you!  Drops can fall onto the dashboard or the seats and they’ll need to be cleaned up – plus there’s the issue of wasted spray going into the atmosphere.
  5. Finally, dry the glass off with another clean microfibre cloth. Always use a straight backwards/forwards and an up/down motion rather than a circular movement to clean the inside of your windscreen. 

Apart from looking good, a blemish-free windscreen is about safety. When your visibility is impaired, driving is dangerous, so it’s crucial to take immediate action.

Cleanliness is one thing, but you also need to take immediate action when you get a chip or a crack in your windscreen because these can quickly escalate into major problems. Unless they’re directly in your line of vision when a total windscreen replacement may be necessary, a small chip or crack is generally simple and cost-effective to fix.

  • Lewis Bailey

    The annoying haze which deposits on the inside surface of the windscreen is composed of volatile organic compounds (VOC) which are vapourised from all the interior plastics, especially the plasticisers … “Oh, That New Car smell !!!”

    VOCs are mostly non-polar compounds, hence polar solvents (ethanol, methanol, isopropanol, butanol, acetone, ammonia) are pretty useless. The ONLY solvent, from my experience, which is effective is one which contains a class of compounds called “terpenes” which are components of citrus plants (e.g. concentrated orange peel oil) and some conifers. With due respects to the author, I seriously doubt that the method cited in the article is efficacious on stubborn haze deposits.

    It’s all a matter of Chemistry.

  • Monty

    I just use a foam spray I got from the supermarket. It works ok. I think it has ammonia in it. Is that so bad?

  • Cavallino Rampante

    What’s “rubbing alcohol”? I’ve seen this ‘method’ before on an American website. They’ve even repeated the “rubbing alcohol” thingy which is meaningless in OZ.

Jason Squire

Jason Squire

If you’re looking for a professional and experienced windscreen repairer, Perth-based Autoscreens is a recommended choice. They have been doing quality windscreen repairs in Perth for over 20 years and are known for their fast, friendly, affordable and efficient mobile service, and you can reach them on 0400 200 086 or through their website, www.windscreenreplacementperth.com.au.