by Jeremy Goodspeed
The windows are looked through approximately 85% of the time that an owner is in a vehicle. Clean and streak free glass on a vehicle is always a delight. Clean glass also is the final tough that sets a well-detailed vehicle apart from the rest.
WIPER BLADES: When cleaning windows, be sure to clean any contaminates from the wiper blades to ensure their good operation. Build-up of dirt and grime can adversely affect their operation and harm the glass. Clean the blade surface by using rubbing alcohol. Wipe the alcohol along the blade surface until it is clean. This will clean the surface without leaving any residue that can leave streaks on the glass. It is also a good idea to replace wiper blades once a year, usually in the fall.
WINDOW CLEANING: Just like other detailing procedures, using a planned procedure assures that the glass will be cleaned properly. Start from the rear of the vehicle and work forward. Always clean the outside of the glass first. It is easier to clean and get the outside glass streak free. Also when cleaning the inside, it is easier to spot streaks. This reduces the back and fourth streak chasing. Always use a non-ammonia glass cleaner. It appears that aerosol glass cleaners that are alcohol-based work better especially for tinted glass. To clean a window, spray cleaner toward the center of the window to avoid splatter onto the paint. Use a clean piece of 0000 steel wool and LIGHTLY burnish across the window. Use this procedure only on exterior glass. DO NOT USE 0000 STEEL WOOL ON EXTERIOR MIRROR GLASS OR ANY PLASTIC WINDOWS. Moderate or heavy pressure is not necessary to remove contaminates. Always use the glass cleaner as a lubricant. Using steel wool will remove rough surface contamination from the glass. Do not attempt to remove water spots with this method. If you are uncomfortable with this method, do not use it. It is always a good idea to test in an inconspicuous spot before proceeding with this procedure.
Roll up windows always have a build up of grime that collects under the seal lip. To remove this grime, lower the window slightly (3") and use 0000 steel wool on the outer edge and lip only. Wipe both the inner and the outer lip clean using a clean towel, inspecting for streaks. Roll up the window and clean using an aerosol glass cleaner. Spray onto window and wipe with a clean non-lint glass towel. Follow immediately with a glass microfiber towel to perform a final burnishing and remove streaks. Next, follow to the inside glass. Use the same glass cleaner and same towels. On interior windows, spray glass cleaner onto the towel to eliminate splatter onto interior surfaces. Some interior glass surfaces may require several cleaning steps to remove heavy film build-up, such as nicotine from a smoker. When final burnishing windows, wipe exterior windows side to side, and interior windows top to bottom. This helps determine if a streak in on the inside or the outside.
TINTED WINDOWS: Use extreme care when cleaning tinted windows. Using an alcohol-based glass cleaner will work for most tinted windows. If in doubt, use a spray bottle with water and a couple drops of liquid dish washing soap. Clean using the same wiping techniques.
PLASTIC INSTRUMENT CLUSTERS and WINDOWS: Plastic is subject to scratching mush easier than any glass and most tinted window films. To clean these surfaces, use a soft microfiber towel. Spray or wipe with a plastic cleaner and wipe gently. Plastic cleaners are designed not to scratch this soft type of material.
WATER SPOTS: To remove water spot build-up on vehicles windows, use a glass polish that contains a pumice powder. Apply to a terry towel and rub using medium pressure. Be patient, as some heavy build up will take time to remove. Most auto glass is hard enough to use a glass polish, however always test a small spot in an inconspicuous spot, as some glass is softer than others.