An integral part of vehicle safety is maintaining a clear view of the road in front of you. Your windshield is going to get dirty and you will need to deal with it at some point in time. Your windshield will get dirty from many different common things in your environment including bugs, dust and dirt, road oil, road salt, and tree sap.
A dirty windshield isn’t just limited to the outside surface of the glass. The inside of your windshield gets dirty too, as contaminated outside air blows on the inside of your glass through your defroster vents, and oils, moisture, and even cigarette smoke can cause the inside of your windshield to get dirty.
When your windshield is dirty, you’ll start to notice it becomes harder to see through the glass for several reasons. When it’s sunny outside, the sun’s light reflects off the dirt on the windshield. When it’s cold outside, moisture collects to the inside of your windows more easily so they fog up.
Cleaning your windshield is part of your routine vehicle maintenance and should be done every 1-2 weeks or whenever you wash your car. Here's how you can clean your windshield:
How to clean a windshield
Gather the correct materials - To clean your windshield you'll need the following materials: Bug remover spray (recommended: 3D Bug Remover), Mesh sponge pad (recommended: Viking Microfiber Mesh Bug and Tar Sponge), Glass cleaner, Paper towels or microfiber cloth, and Water.
Spray your windshield with the bug remover spray - Coat the windshield completely with the spray. The spray softens the bugs and tar that are stuck to your windshield, making them easier to remove later on.
Let the bug remover spray sit and soak - If the bugs and tar have been on your car for days or weeks, let the spray soak for 10 minutes to soften the gunk on your glass.
Scrub the windshield with a mesh sponge pad - You will only need light pressure to loosen and remove the bugs and tar from your windshield. The mesh is soft enough not to damage the glass but abrasive enough to take those stuck-on bits off the window. Get all the way to the edges of the windshield to make sure your windshield is evenly and completely cleaned.
Rinse the windshield with clean water - The bug remover spray may create suds when you rinse, so use lots of water to get it all off. Rinse until there are no more bubbles coming off the glass.
Lift your wiper arms - To completely clean the windshield, lift your wiper arms to the upright position. If your wiper arms don’t stay up, you’ll need to lift them individually while you are wiping the glass.
Spray glass cleaner directly onto your windshield - A foaming action glass cleaner will help remove any remaining stuck-on bits on your windshield glass.
Tip: Spray half the windshield at a time. Trying to clean the whole thing at one time is hard to do because of the large surface area.
Wipe off the glass cleaner - Wipe the glass cleaner off the windshield with clean paper towels or a microfiber cloth. First wipe in a vertical pattern then follow it with a horizontal pattern for the best streak-free finish.
Warning: A circular pattern will leave the most noticeable streaks on the glass that you’ll notice when the sun shines on the windshield.
Wipe until the glass cleaner is gone from the surface - If there are still streaks noticeable, clean the glass again.
Repeat - Repeat for the second side of the windshield.
Wipe the rubber edge of the wiper blade - Use the wet paper towel or rag when you are done. Lower the wiper blades back down to the glass.
Spray glass cleaner onto your cloth - This is for cleaning the interior side of the windshield.
Warning: If you spray the glass cleaner directly onto the glass, you’ll get cleaner all over your car’s dashboard and interior parts, plus it wastes your glass cleaner.
Wipe the inside of your windshield - Wipe with the glass cleaner-wetted cloth in sections. Do half of the windshield at a time.
Wipe the windshield in a pattern. Wipe first in a vertical pattern, then in a horizontal pattern. This will minimize the streaks you may see. Make sure to wipe around the rearview mirror as well. Wipe all the way to the edges of the windshield all the way around.
Repeat - Repeat for the remaining areas of the windshield.
Clean until streaks are gone - Clean the windshield again if your see streaks on the glass.
Tip: If you are repeatedly getting streaks after cleaning the glass, try changing your cloth. A dirty cloth will leave streaks on your windshield glass.
Inspect windshield wipers - You can maintain your windshield cleanliness longer if your wiper blades are properly maintained or replaced if they are torn.
Look for signs of wear - Look closely to ensure they aren’t dry and cracked. If they show signs of wear, have a mechanic replace the wiper blades.
Clean the blades - Wipe the blades with a cotton cloth and rubbing alcohol or use baking soda.
Add washer fluid - Check the level of windshield washer fluid and fill it up to the fill line.
Tip: Use a rain repellant on your windshield to help water run off without leaving streaks. The product also makes it easier for you to see out even when it’s raining.
As you clean your windshield you might notice that some parts of the wiper system aren't working as well as they should be. Have a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, inspect your wiper system if something is amiss. Our mobile mechanics can quickly replace wiper arms, blades, or reservoir at your home or office.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Clean Your Windshield and was authored by Jason Unrau.