Best Car Window Cleaners: Bring Clarity to Your Drive
Get pristine, crystal clear windows with these top-quality car window cleaners.
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
Few things are more annoying when driving your car than a cloudy, streaky windshield that’s hard to see through. Not only is it annoying, it’s also dangerous. Whether driving on a clear, sunny day, through rain, snow, or fog, or at night, you need to be able to see what’s outside your vehicle clearly and accurately.
There’s also something so satisfying about having a car with pristinely clean windows. This is where a good quality, streak-free window cleaner comes in handy. It’s so frustrating to clean your windows with a window cleaner only to come back when you want to drive somewhere and see that it has left streaks all over your windshield and windows.
If you’re looking for a great car window cleaner that won’t disappoint and will leave your windows looking as good as new, we got you covered with our top-of-the-line recommendations and handy buying guide that will help you weed through the hype and get a reliable cleaner that’s not a waste of money.
Invisible Glass boasts just that: glass that’s so clean it looks transparent. The ammonia-, streak-, and residue-free formula makes this glass cleaner safe for use on almost any surface.
- One bottle of Invisible Glass goes a long way when it comes to cleaning glass in your home, your vehicle(s), and even your motorcycle or RV
- A 32-ounce bottle is a lot to hold if you plan on cleaning a lot of glass at one time
Known to some as the industry standard when it comes to glass cleaner, Sprayway comes packaged in a slim can that can easily be stowed for later use.
- The foaming action of this glass cleaner provides easy application since the product won’t drip down into the window tracks
- If by chance you were to drop the can or somehow dislodge the nozzle from its mounting point, the entire can is unusable
For a glass cleaner you can use on multiple surfaces, check out TriNova’s formula, which works just as hard to scrub off debris as it does in wiping off haze-free.
- TriNova’s aggressive formula cleans deep while still leaving a streak-free shine
- Ammonia-free formula won’t dry out any surface you use it on
- TriNova doesn’t provide the most ergonomic design when it comes to bottle size and shape, especially considering the thin neck and wide shoulders on this product
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy Car Window Cleaner
- Supplement your regular car-washing routine. Running your car through an automated wash or even hand-washing it yourself isn’t always enough, especially if the dirt and grime is on the inside of your car. Let’s face it, if you’ve got kids or pets, chances are high that you’ve had more than your fair share of fingerprints, nose prints, paw prints, and who knows what else on your car’s windows.
- Safely see out of your windows while driving. Being able to see around you in all directions is key to driving safely. While a little bit of dust here and there isn’t going to hurt anyone, major streaks, debris, bug guts, and grime can be distracting and can cause you to miss seeing something important.
- It's versatile. Glass cleaner, whether it’s intended for your automobile or around the house, can be used for a variety of other purposes. After you clean all the glass in your bathrooms, try the cleaner on your glass stovetop, your microwave and toaster, and even your glass-top coffee table.
- Touch up your vehicle. Whether you drove through a cloud of bugs or just need to clean the dog slobber from your rear windows, glass cleaner can help. We don’t recommend using it as an exterior detailer, but it will clear up headlights as well.
- Remove hard water spots from your car. The chemicals found in tap water can stain glass surfaces over time. The same can be said for water that may sit on your vehicle. Even most clay bars will have a hard time getting the water stains off your paint, so invest in glass cleaner instead.
- Safely clean computer screens and other electronics. You can spray glass cleaner onto a microfiber towel and then wipe your computer screens, phone screens, and even keyboards down to clean them. If you’re worried about any residue, simply purchase a can of compressed air.
Car Window Cleaner Types
Aerosol Spray Can
Many glass cleaners out there today are compressed into a spray can for easy application. The replaceable cap is useful for storing and using the glass cleaner at a later time. Aerosol glass cleaners typically foam up and thus require a bit of shaking to prime. We don’t recommend storing spray can glass cleaners upside down. Keep them in a cool, dry place where they can stand right side up.
Another popular way to package glass cleaner is in your typical spray bottle with a squeeze trigger. Many bottles range anywhere from 19 to 32 ounces and should be stored right side up, as you would with aerosol glass cleaners. You might find the squeeze trigger easier to use than the spray nozzle since there is more surface area for your finger to contact. Glass cleaner in spray bottles is not compressed, so there’s less of a chance of it exploding in extreme circumstances. Be sure to store it in a cool, dry place when not in use.
Glass cleaner wipes are probably something you’ve seen used for cleaning eyeglasses. We don’t recommend using them on your entire car since you’ll easily go through at least three or four wipes, making them a less economical option than spray cleaners. However, they can be useful if you’re trying to see out of your windshield/side mirrors or need to clean off your headlights for safety reasons. Wipes typically come in resealable packs that can be easily stored in a door pocket or behind the seat.
Knowing what’s in your glass cleaner can mean a world of difference if you have tinted windows. Choosing a cleaner that’s ammonia-free ensures your window tint won’t break down and degrade faster than it should. Alcohol allows the glass cleaner to evaporate quickly, but such an ingredient may adversely affect your senses. If you’re worried about other chemicals that might be found in glass cleaner (such as alcohol), check the label before you buy.
One of the most well-known names in the glass-cleaning industry, Sprayway has been in the business since 1947. The company headquarters is located in Illinois. If you’re looking to buy glass cleaner in bulk, check out this 12-pack of Sprayway Glass Cleaner.
Part of the S.C. Johnson’s family company, Windex has become a household name—and the source of many jokes and comedies. S.C. Johnson has 130+ years of experience and it shows in the products it offers. Check out this Windex 2-pack if you’re a die-hard fan.
With its headquarters in Pennsylvania, Invisible Glass has been at the cleaning game since 1942. You should consider its Invisible Glass Combo Set if you’re looking for a starter pack.
Located in Houston, Texas, Rain-X carries 40-plus years’ worth of experience in the automotive industry. We recommend its 2-in-1 Glass Cleaner + Rain Repellent, especially if you live anywhere north of its hometown.
Armor All first began in 1966. Known for carrying a multitude of automotive care products, Armor All does offer its own Glass Wipes if you’re looking for a quick solution to a dirty window or windshield. The company is now part of Energizer but stays headquartered in Missouri.
California was just the right place for Meguiar’s to call home in 1901. The brand continues to stay strong in the face of fierce competition in the automotive care circuit, as evidenced by its Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner.
Car Window Cleaner Pricing
- $2 to $10: Most single spray bottles and aerosol cans that are around 19-32 ounces can be found in this price range. Many glass cleaner wipes will be found here too. Spending more certainly doesn’t mean that you’re getting a better product, however.
- $11 to $25: You won’t (or shouldn’t) spend more than $15 for a single can/bottle of glass cleaner. For this price, you can purchase larger quantities and refill sizes of your favorite glass cleaner. Some glass cleaning kits will fall into this price category as well and may include the glass cleaner itself, a wand, and perhaps some microfiber towels.
- $26 to $35: Surprisingly, you can find glass cleaner products and kits in this price range. You’ll usually get bulk refills and concentrates, as well as some higher-end kits that promise you the world. It’s certainly not necessary to spend this much to get a good quality product that delivers excellent results, though.
Applying glass cleaner to your vehicle shouldn’t be the hard part. Choose a glass cleaner that goes on easy in whichever way you choose, whether it’s via a spray bottle, aerosol can, or glass wipe. Spray bottles tend to be easier to use, but you may find the spray nozzle on an aerosol can to be less demanding of your hand. Multiple spray patterns aid in quick application as well.
Most car window cleaners have chemicals, such as ammonia, chlorine, butoxyethanol, and more. While these chemicals are great at cleaning and not leaving behind any streaks, they can be harmful to children, pets, and people with skin sensitivities and allergies. If you’re concerned about that, consider choosing products with natural ingredients, such as vinegar and essential oils that are less likely to irritate your skin and respiratory tract.
Glass wipes are perhaps the most ergonomic of glass cleaners because they mold to your hand during use. At the same time, spray bottles and aerosol cans work best when they mimic this design. A long spray bottleneck aids in grip, along with a lengthier trigger. Avoid aerosol cans that are chunky in size.
Unless you have the luxury of washing your car at home, you’ll have to keep a bottle or can of glass cleaner handy in the back seat or trunk of your vehicle. Glass wipes win out over spray bottles and aerosol cans in this aspect, because they don’t need to be oriented a certain way to avoid spillage. However, spray cans are more flexible in this sense than spray bottles.
Rated for Tinted Windows
Whether or not your windows are tinted, you should purchase a glass cleaner that is safe for this type of aftermarket upgrade. Tint-safe glass cleaners don’t include ammonia in their formula, so stay away from those products that list it as an ingredient. The more non-toxic your glass cleaner, the safer it is to use not only on your glass, but also in other applications as well.
Most glass cleaners carry a less-than-noticeable scent that quickly dissipates once the product hits the air. Like anything automotive related, however, there might be some manufacturers that add a little aroma to their products. If scented glass cleaner is something you’re sensitive to, make sure the product you choose has nothing more than a trace of chemical smell. It might not be completely odor-free, but it’s as close as you can possibly get.
Glass cleaners only work when they leave your windows looking new. Choose a streak-free formula so you don’t have to climb in, out, and around your vehicle trying to make sure you wipe away all the haze. Glass cleaners that leave a residue behind are notorious for causing streaks, so avoid these products if you can.
- High-Quality Microfiber Cloths. While it’s important to buy a streak-free car window cleaner, having superior microfiber cloths goes a long way. A good microfiber cloth will be soft with short fibers. They come in a variety of colors depending on the manufacturer. If you can budget for it, it’s better to purchase microfiber cloths in bulk because you can easily use them to dust around the house as well.
- Buy in Bulk. This is especially true if you use car window cleaner for more than just your car windows. It’s hardly satisfying to clean a window or mirror half-way and then realize you don’t have enough cleaner to finish the job. It’s also much more economical and can save you money in the long run. We recommend finding a product you like and then ordering it in multiples the next time you shop for it.
- Pre-mixed vs. Concentrates. If you’re someone who likes to buy in bulk, choosing to purchase concentrates might be a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to ordering pallets of aerosol cans. At the same time, you will have to mix your glass cleaner and have it ready to go before you clean your windows. It’s not the most convenient solution, but it is budget-friendly and uses much less packaging.
- Price Per Ounce. When comparing glass cleaner products, it can be a good idea to price each contender out per ounce. Let’s say you’ve narrowed the field down to three products (as we have above). If you’re not sure which to choose, do the math. While the price per ounce shouldn’t necessarily be a determining factor in your decision, it can help you distinguish between low-end and higher-quality glass cleaning products.
Best Car Window Cleaners Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Car Window Cleaner Tips and Advice
- Clean your windows last. Besides wiping down the outside of your car one final time, it should be one of the finishing steps in your car-washing routine. Windows are notorious for picking up the smallest dust that might float by, so save yourself the hassle by cleaning them only once.
- When cleaning your car’s windows, be sure to use cloths that are guaranteed to be lint-free to avoid leaving streaks. Dry paper towels and dry newspaper are also good at making sure you get a streak-free clean.
- If you use microfiber cloths to clean your windows, don’t dry them in the dryer with a fabric softener. This leaves a film on the cloth that directly translates into streaky windows when used with your window cleaner.
- When cleaning your windshield (both inside and out), attack one half at a time. Clean the interior of both driver and passenger sides before cleaning the outside. When you’re sitting inside the car, don’t forget to clean your visor mirrors and rearview mirror as well.
- Glass cleaner works best when it is applied in a cool, dry area to a cool, dry car. Direct sunlight will only increase the evaporation rate of the glass cleaner, and by the time you’ve only done one window, you’ll be ready to quit out of frustration. Prevent streaks and aggravation by looking for a shaded spot.
Q: Should I avoid any areas of my vehicle when using a glass cleaner?
While many car glass cleaners are safe and recommended for use on multiple surfaces, including household applications, be sure to read the label of the brand you choose prior to use. Some glass cleaners can damage stickers or decals, as well as remove the lettering printed on your dash, stereo, and steering wheel.
Q: Can I use glass cleaner on the interior of my car?
Again, this depends on the brand of glass cleaner that you use. Most are safe for dashes, door handles, touch screen displays, vinyl seats, etc. Read your label first, though, to avoid damage and heartache. We certainly don’t recommend using glass cleaner on your car’s leather interior, either.
Q: Will glass cleaner remove bugs/tree sap/tar/road paint/bird droppings?
In theory, most glass cleaners will be effective at removing bug guts and bird droppings, depending on how thickly these things are coated onto your windows. However, for most tough cases, you’ll need a stronger, more targeted cleaner, especially for really sticky and tough tree sap, tar, and road paint. We recommend trying more aggressive cleaners on an inconspicuous area first to ensure that they don’t damage your car’s finish or paint.
Q: What’s the best way to apply glass cleaner?
The best way to apply car glass cleaner is to spray the cleaner directly onto a clean and soft microfiber or paper towel, then apply this to the windows in a uniform direction. Try to keep a set of towels dedicated only to window cleaning to ensure they don’t get contaminated with other chemicals and leave behind unsightly greasy streaks and debris, or worse, scratch the surface of your windows. Try also to avoid applying glass cleaner in extreme heat or direct sunlight, as this can cause it to dry out faster than you can wipe it off, leaving streaks behind.
Q: How often should I clean my windows?
While many people recommend cleaning your windows each time you wash your vehicle, you may be able to get away with cleaning your interior windows less frequently. However, if you have children or pets who tend to touch the windows and windshield frequently, you may want to clean more often. If it’s a stormy or messy time of year, you may need to clean pollen, bird droppings, bug guts, mud, and other debris off your windows more frequently — maybe even daily.
Now that you know all you need to know about top-quality car window cleaners, it’s easy to see why we chose Invisible Glass Glass Cleaner as our top pick. Not only does it provide a pristine, streak-free clean, but it also comes in a comfortable, user-friendly bottle and is offered at a great price point.
If you’re looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, however, check out Sprayway’s Glass Cleaner. It’s a favorite of not only budget-conscious consumers but professional auto detailers as well.