Best Car Window Cleaners: Bring Clarity to Your Drive
Clear your windows with our top picks for the best auto glass cleaner
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PUBLISHED ON April 2, 2019
Hopping into a clean car can boost any driver’s confidence. But not being able to see out of any windows is a huge safety concern. Keep your ride clean and safe with one of the best car window cleaners we’ve picked out below. Best of all, we even included tips on how to get the most out of whichever glass cleaner you choose.
- Best OverallInvisible Glass Glass CleanerSummarySummaryInvisible Glass boasts just that: glass that’s so clean it looks transparent. The ammonia-, streak-, and residue-free formula make this glass cleaner safe for use on almost any surface.ProsProsOne bottle of Invisible Glass goes a long way when it comes to cleaning the glass in your home, your vehicle(s), and even your motorcycle or RV.ConsConsA 32-ounce bottle is a lot to hold if you plan on cleaning a lot of glass at one time.
- Best ValueSprayway Glass CleanerSummarySummaryKnown 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.ProsProsThe foaming action of this glass cleaner provides easy application since the product won’t drip down into the window tracks.ConsConsIf by chance you were to drop the can or somehow dislodge the nozzle from its mounting point, the entire can is unusable.
- Honorable MentionTriNova Streak-Free Glass CleanerSummarySummaryFor 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.ProsProsHard water spots beware! TriNova’s aggressive formula cleans deep while still leaving a streak-free shine. The ammonia-free formula won’t dry out any surface you use it on either.ConsConsTriNova 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, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy Car Window Cleaner
- Supplement to your regular car-washing routine. Running your car through an automated wash or even hand-washing it yourself isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need to touch-up your windows to make sure all the dirt and grime is gone.
- 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, it’s best to keep on top of your window-cleaning routine to promote safer driving habits.
- Use the cleaner on cars, SUVs, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, etc. 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.
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. 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.
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. Armor All first began in 1966.
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
- $5-$12: Budget about this much for one standard 19-ounce spray can or sometimes even two aerosol cans of glass cleaner, depending on the brand you choose. You should even be able to find a pack of glass cleaner wipes for $5-$12 as well. Spending close to $12 doesn’t always mean you’ll be getting a better product, though.
- $20-$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 cases of your favorite glass cleaner and/or large quantities in concentrate. 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-$35: It’s really not necessary to spend this much on glass cleaner, whether it’s in bulk or as part of a kit. However, you will find larger amounts of concentrate at this price point. Some higher-end glass cleaning kits can be found for around $30 as well, but we recommend spending less. There’s not much benefit to spending this much.
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.
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. 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 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.
- Compare 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 Cleaner Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Invisible Glass’ Glass Cleaner
Invisible Glass wins our pick for the best car window cleaner overall because it’s the most product that you can get for the price and that removes a number of contaminants without leaving a single streak. This automotive glass cleaner comes in a 32-ounce spray bottle.
They call it a mirror-like finish for nothing. When you clean a mirror, you want to be able to see a crystal clear image, so that’s why we chose Invisible Glass. You won’t have to worry about hazing, streaks, or residue. Invisible Glass even works on chrome surfaces to shine up your bling. The formula is ammonia-free, so it’s safe to use on tinted windows. The spray bottle packaging means you won’t have to worry about the compressed air within, as you would with an aerosol can.
However, you might find the spray bottle, at over 30 ounces of product, becomes heavy over time. You also aren’t able to adjust the spray pattern, unfortunately. At the same time, Invisible Glass makes it easy for any driver to clean their windows with ease.
Best Value: Sprayway Glass Cleaner
A close second, Sprayway’s Glass Cleaner wins our value pick this time around. A favorite among professionals, Sprayway gives a nod to the environmental folks with their recyclable cans that are actually made of recycled steel. It just goes to show that you can clean your windows and save the environment at the same time.
In all seriousness, Sprayway brings a strong, no-drip formula to the table. With zero ammonia and ozone-depleting chemicals, you won’t have to worry about damaging your tinted windows or the ozone layer. Sprayway’s glass cleaner has little to no aroma. With a replaceable cap and ergonomic can shape, Sprayway glass cleaner offers up a small-but-mighty product.
Like almost any aerosol can, losing the nozzle means the can become a dud. Without any way to release the glass cleaner within the can, your only choice is to dispose of the product. Aerosol glass cleaners are harder to store since they have to be upright and can be awkward to stuff behind a seat or in the trunk. For all intents and purposes, however, Sprayway is a product nearly any driver can use.
Honorable Mention: TriNova Streak-Free Glass Cleaner
There are many products we could have chosen as our honorable mention, but TriNova caught our attention with one simple characteristic. This humble glass cleaner is able to remove hard water spots with ease, whether they’re discoloring your vehicle’s paint or hazing up the inside of your shower doors.
TriNova also sets themselves apart by not testing their products on animals. Their car glass cleaner is packaged in a spray bottle with a long trigger for better grip during application. The TriNova glass cleaner is rated for both indoor and outdoor use so you can clean anything from your RV to your patio furniture. The streak- and ammonia-free formula makes it an easy alternative to our top picks above as well.
The spray bottle TriNova packages its glass cleaner in isn’t the most ergonomic. Gripping the product, with its small trigger and wide-shouldered bottle design, could be difficult for you, especially if you have larger hands. However, this glass cleaner is easy for almost anyone to use.
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.
- Purchase soft microfiber cloths that won’t collect lint. The fine hairs and fibers that you might not notice otherwise will be incredibly obvious on your car windows. If you are going to dry your microfiber cloths after washing them, we recommend not using a fabric softener sheet.
- 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?
A: The first thing to know about glass cleaner is that it will likely dry out any surface it contacts. The effects are not instantaneous, and you’ll have to use a lot over a long period of time for any noticeable differences. Some stickers and decals may wipe away if you apply glass cleaner on them, so be careful when using it on exterior windows. Glass cleaner may also remove the lettering printed on steering wheel stalks and surrounding buttons, so take care when you apply.
Q: Can I use glass cleaner on the interior of my car?
A: Yes, but be cautious. It’s best to spray the glass cleaner on a microfiber towel first, and then apply gently. The best glass cleaner removes dust that may have settled on your dash and center console and will clear up the infotainment screen if your car is so equipped. Heavy-duty dirt and stains should be addressed via other cleaning methods for the best results—and least amount of effort.
Q: Will glass cleaner remove bugs/tree sap/tar/road paint/bird droppings?
A: When fresh, glass cleaner should theoretically be able to take care of any of these contaminants. However, don’t rely on it as your sole method of cleaning. Citrus-based cleaners do well in removing stubborn tree sap. Tar and road paint should be addressed as soon as possible to lessen the damaging effects. We recommend a paint thinner for that. Bugs and bird droppings, on the other hand, should come off easily with glass cleaner. You may want to pick up disposable gloves if you’re cleaning these off your car.
Q: What’s the best way to apply glass cleaner?
A: Spray the glass cleaner onto a soft microfiber towel. It’s best if you dedicate a set of towels to just your windows, since any contaminants the towels pick up may scratch the glass surface. Don’t soak the microfiber towel in glass cleaner; simply spray on enough that you can easily spread the glass cleaner across the surface of one window. Wait a few seconds and then use a dry microfiber towel to remove the remaining glass cleaner. You may need to reapply glass cleaner periodically.
Q: How often should I clean my windows?
A: That really depends on where you live, what time of year it is, and many other variables. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to clean your windows every time you wash your car. If you have your oil changed on a regular basis, most dealerships/businesses will include washing your windows in their service. If you can’t see out of any one of your windows, take a few minutes to clean it off. Your safety could depend on it.
Q: Can I use Windex on my car windows?
A: The argument against using Windex on your car windows lies in the haze it leaves behind. In most cases, it’s not necessarily the dirtiness of the window that makes cleaning them a task; it’s the time required to remove the haze and achieve a streak-free finish. Windex typically leaves a haze behind, but it does well in household applications.
We chose Invisible Glass’ Glass Cleaner as our top pick because it provides a superior cleaning solution for the money.
If you’re looking for value, check out Sprayway’s Glass Cleaner. This product is used by professional detailers who know a thing or two about streak-free windows.