Keeping your car looking great is straightforward – you can learn to detail it properly, use one of the many hundreds of waxes or sealers, even use a dedicated buffing machine, but your glass is something different … getting the super-clear, streak-free clarity is difficult, mainly because of the nature of glass.
You’re constantly staring at it, any light shining on it will always highlight the odd smudge or smear, and let’s be honest … it’s damn annoying when there’s just that one smear running the length of it. I can live with a few minor marks or smears in my paintwork, but the glass … has to be perfect.
I’ve reviewed six of the best car glass cleaners, and while their sole purpose is to clean glass, there are some differences between them all – some suit one type of application, while another cleaner could be useful for something slightly different.
The Best Car Window Cleaners
1. Meguiar's G8224 Perfect Clarity Auto Glass Cleaner
Meguiar’s are known for one thing … their auto detailing & cleaning products, and for good reason. They’ve always produced fine quality product that does the job as they intended, their glass cleaner is no different.
Their unique formula spreads easily, and wipes off to leave a streak-free finish, without too much effort, and thanks to the professional grade formulation, the haze-free glass stays that way for longer than some of the competition.
The product is particularly good for cleaning up all the nasties like dead bugs, tree sap and bird droppings, even when it works for the interior – things like tobacco smoke film and ‘vinyl fogging’. If you haven’t heard of vinyl fog, you’re not alone – it apparently happens when the vinyl dash gets overly hot and releases some sort of odor or gas.
The G8224 doesn’t say whether it’s ammonia free, but it is safe to use on all glass products, including window tints, comes with a fresh scent.
Best for an all-round cleaner, good value for money and gives a good streak-free finish with little effort.
2. SprayWay SW050-12 Glass Cleaner
The greatest glass cleaner in a can? Maybe.
The Sprayway SW050-12 is an aerosol can which when used delivers a foam to the window, unlike some of the other foams, this just sits and sticks – no running, no dribbling, not even a bit of sagging. Sprayway have been making great products like this since 1947, so they do know a thing or two about them.
They say that it contains ‘perfume-grade’ alcohol for best performance, all I can tell is that it’s guaranteed to not leave a residue or film, and that it needs no rinsing off – it really is spray on, wipe off. The finish it leaves is sparkling, quite literally one of the best finishes you’ll get for such a simple treatment.
Given the nature of the cleaner, this (for me) is the best cleaner for the more heavier duty cleaning when you need something that little bit extra than a quick spritz and wipe from a bottle.
3. Adam’s Polishes Car Window Cleaner
This car window cleaner is completely eco-friendly – no alcohol or ammonia, which makes it safe to use pretty much anywhere, including on tints. Adam’s brand claim that it uses ‘breakthrough polymer technology’ and ‘optical clarifiers’ to provide the ultimate in clean and clear technology. Sounds like some marketing … spiel … to me, but to be fair, it does work well, under the right circumstances.
Here’s the thing … users have all commented on fantastic results, some of the best they’ve seen, but only with the recommended silk towel specially designed for glass – microfiber towels will deliver a smeared finish.
Made in the USA, completely green and gets the results with their towel … this has to be the #1 for the eco-friendly car guys.
4. Driven Extreme Duty Glass Cleaner
As the name suggests, this is the extreme end of cleaning your glass, and even then, it needs a hand in the form of an abrasive pad.
The strongest formula combines an acid gel, cutting abrasives and a wide range of professional strength cleaning agents to get the job done, because it has been designed to remove the very toughest of stains … imagine if you’d let a car stand outside for a decade, never touching it … that sort of stain.
A number of people have reported using it as a last ditch effort before spending thousands on replacing glass, all have produced amazing results.
It removes: paint overspray, mildew & mold, hard water spots, calcium & mineral deposits, lime scale … pretty much anything.
If your windshield as well as other glass surfaces are so severely tarnished that other methods haven’t even touched, then the Extreme from Driven is the choice for you.
5. 3M 08888 Car Glass Cleaner
3M have been making chemical solutions and all manner of things for as long as I can remember, and that’s their key. They aren’t an cleaning kit supplier or auto detailer, they’re a chemical manufacturer (amongst many other things), so their car glass cleaner is specially formulated, and it works well.
This is another foam aerosol, similar to the Sprayway, and 3M say that it’s safe to use on all glass surfaces, but also interior plastics, lenses and automotive vinyl – so it’s pretty multi-purpose.
A completely streak-free formula, the beauty of the foam cleaner is really apparent when you’re trying to clear bugs and debris from the screen – spray this on and leave it for a moment or two – it will soften up the detritus for easier removal.
If you have a problem with bug splatter, this would be the one for you … the best cheap car glass cleaner that can be used on a number of surfaces, risk free.
6. Invisible Glass 92194-4PK Premium Glass Cleaner
Four bottles at 32oz each, all using their Clear Dry formulation, which guarantees a streak-free shine with minimum effort. Just the same as the Adam’s, you can’t use just anything for application if you want the best results – paper towels will smear and leave streaks – you must use a microfiber towel.
It’s ammonia free, and contains no ‘streaky additives’, then you can safely use it on most surfaces, including windows that have been tinted.
Although when using it on the inside of the windshield, it does tend to over spray a bit – you can either clean the mess afterward, or place a cloth on the top of the dash before using.
The Best Cleaners
I think it’s also worth mentioning a few other uses … yes, this is all about cars, but a number of consumers use some of these products in their homes – some quite obvious like shower screens, windows and mirrors, and others not quite so obvious … carpet cleaner, granite worktop polish and stainless steel cleaner.
They really can be truly multi-purpose.
Some of these cleaners are eco-friendly, and that used to mean that they’d need more elbow grease to get the job done, it was for that reason that people started producing their own home-made cleaners … believing them to be better. It was maybe true a few years back, but today’s cleaners are just as powerful, whether they’re eco-friendly or not.
It’s tempting to just use a chamois cleaning cloth on the windows, however, with a little extra effort, the glass could be transformed to sparkling, rather than just ‘clear’.