How To Clean The Inside Of Your Car Windshield

When it comes to cleaning a car interior, the inside of the windshield is often overlooked . However, it is important as a clean, grease free windshield interior can really help with visibility when driving at night or during bad weather.

The best way to clean the inside of a windshield is to use a dedicated glass cleaner and microfibre extendable windshield cleaner. Then polish up with some crumpled up newspaper, and apply some anti-fog window treatment.

In this article, I’ll explain the best way to clean the inside of the windshield, and some tips to help keep it clean longer. 

How to clean the inside of the windshield

One of the biggest problems when it comes to cleaning the inside of a windshield, is that it can often be difficult to apply enough pressure to clean the glass properly. This is because the windshield is angled away from you, and you’ve got things like the steering wheel and dashboard in the way.

It’s also important not to get any cleaning products or anti fog solutions on the dashboard surface as they can leave spots on the surface that are difficult to remove.

Here are the tools you’ll need to clean the inside of the windshield

  1. Clean microfibre cloths
  2. Extendable Windshield Cleaning Tool (The Invisible Glass Tool works well, here it is on Amazon)
  3. Glass Cleaner (Choose one that sticks to the window, and one that is ammonia free so it won’t damage tints or the dashboard)
  4. Anti-fog window treatment (It’s hard to beat the Rain X range of anti-fog products. Here’s an interior one on Amazon.)
  5. Some newspaper (this is optional, you can use a microfibre cloth instead)

Before you start cleaning the inside of the windshield, you should make sure that the outside of the windshield is spotless. This makes it so much easier to clean the inside, as you can be sure that any dirt that you can see is on the inside.

Here’s the procedure for cleaning the inside of the windshield. There are of course lots of different ways to complete the job, but this is what I find gives the best results every time.

Step 1. Cover The Dashboard

This step is optional, but it can help to keep the top dashboard clean. I usually put some towels across the top of the dashboard to protect it from splashes and dirt, especially if the windshield is very dirty.

Step 2. Rub Down The Inside Of The Windshield With A Damp Microfibre Cloth

Take a clean microfibre cloth (or extendable cleaning tool bonnet) and wet it with some clean water. 

Using the damp cloth, or the extendable cleaning tool, rub down the entire surface of the windshield interior. This step removes the top layer of dirt and grease and also makes it easier to use the glass cleaner. 

Step 3. Spray The Glass Cleaner Onto The Windshield

Before you start, read the instructions on the glass cleaner. Most of them are just sprayed onto the glass and wiped off after a few seconds. 

Starting on the passenger side, coat one half of the windshield with glass cleaner. Be careful not to apply too much, especially if you’re using a foam cleaner. 

Starting at the lower right side, rub away the glass cleaner in small circular motions with a clean cloth, moving from right to left until you reach the top of the windshield. Use the extendable tool to get to the hard to reach spots.

Don’t worry about the glass being totally streak free, this step is all about cleaning away all of the dirt. You may need to repeat this step to get all of the dirt off.

Repeat the cleaning process on the drivers side. I usually just use the extendable cleaning tool as it can be difficult to apply enough pressure to a cloth if the steering wheel is in the way. Don’t forget to clean behind the rear view mirror and down behind the dashboard near the air vents.

Step 4. Polish The Windshield Glass

Once you have the windshield clean, leave it for a few minutes so any remaining glass cleaner can dry.

This step is all about polishing the surface of the glass to remove any streaks or dirt that are left after cleaning. If you’ve done a good job with the glass cleaner, then the glass should be pretty clean already.

To polish the glass, I like to use some crumpled up newspaper. It may sound crazy, but newspaper is great for drying glass and leaving a streak free finish.

Step 5. Apply An Anti-Fog Coating

If you’ve never used one before, let me explain what an anti-fog products is. Their purpose is to stop windows from fogging up when it is raining or when the temperature outside is lower than the temperature inside. 

view through foggy windshield

The windshield can often become fogged up during cold and wet weather

If this is your first time using an anti-fog spray in your vehicle, then I’d recommend that you only apply it to the passenger side of the windshield. Sometimes, they don’t work as well with some types of air conditioning, and can cause tiny droplets of condensation to form on the glass. This is rare, but it’s better to play it safe and try a small area of the windshield first.

Applying an anti-fog coating is as simple as spraying a light coating of the product directly onto the windshield near the roof and gently spread it out using a clean cloth. Don’t over spray it as it will drip down onto the dashboard. 

Leave it to dry for 10 to 15 minutes, and apply a second coat if necessary (or as directed by the manufacturer).

And that is it, you should now have a super clean, grease free windshield that won’t fog up in cold or rainy weather!

What causes the inside of a windshield to get dirty?

You might think, because if its distance from passengers, the inside of the windshield should not get too dirty. Well your kids may not be able to get their fingerprints on it, or your dog may not be likely to lick it, but the inside of windshield can still get coated in all sorts of grease and chemicals.

Here are just some of the ways that the inside of a windshield can get dirty.

1. Smoking in your vehicle

Smoking is one of the quickest ways to ruin the interior of your vehicle, especially the headlining and inside of the windows.

Cigarette smoke contains hundreds of chemicals that cling to the smoke in the air and eventually settle all over the interior surface of the vehicle. These chemicals also stick to the inside of the windshield forming a greasy coating that becomes discolored over time.

2. Dirt from the air conditioning vents

If you haven’t changed the cabin filter in your vehicle in a long time, then it’s not going to be as effective as it should. This means that dirt and grime from the outside world is going to be allowed into your car and this will invariably settle on the glass and other surfaces.

All vehicles have air con slots on the dashboard to let hot or cold air onto the windshield. If the cabin filters are dirty, then you are effectively blowing dirty air directly onto the windshield.

dirt from interior air vents

Dirt can enter your vehicle through the air vents

Air conditioning systems also need cleaning annually to remove any buildup of bacteria or fungus in the system. If they are not cleaned regularly, vehicle air conditioning systems can not only cause a build up of dirt on your windshield, they can actually make you sick.

3. Interior Cleaning products

Using cleaning products and coatings in your car can also contribute to greasy build ups on your windshield. Depending on how often you clean the interior of your vehicle and what cleaning products you use, you could actually be making things worse.

Many cleaning products, especially protective coatings can slowly evaporate into the air when the interior of the car gets warm. The leftover chemicals in cleaning products can turn to gas and mix with the air inside the car. These chemicals can then settle on other surfaces, such as the windshield where they form a coating that can look streaky or greasy in appearance.

4. New Car Smell Off-Gassing

Some vehicles when new will have a strong ‘new car’ smell. This smell comes from the numerous materials that make up a car interior. 

Over time, the excess residue that is left over during production will escape into the air and can be inhaled or will settle elsewhere in the vehicle. Luckily, this is a short lived problem that happens in the first few months of ownership and are unlikely to harm you or your passengers. It can however leave an oily, glossy coating on the inside of your windshield that can affect visibility.

How to keep the inside of a windshield clean

The best way to keep the inside of your windshield clean is through simple regular cleaning. 

No matter how careful you are with your car, the inside (and outside) of the windshield is always going to get dirty. 

1. Don’t smoke in your car

Medical science will tell you not to smoke at all. I say, if you care about the interior of your car, then at least don’t smoke inside of your car. 

2.Change the cabin (pollen) filters regularly

Changing the cabin filter every 6 to 12 months can help to keep the inside of your car, and especially the windshield dirt and grease free. 

3. Open the side windows regularly

By rolling down the windows every so often you can let some fresh air in and some stale air out. Obviously, letting air in can contribute to the dirty windshield problem, so try to only do it when you are moving, and not when you are behind a dirty bus! 

4. Get the air conditioning serviced annually

Getting the sir conditioning system cleaned professionally annually can have a positive impact on the quality of the air in your car. This can help keep the interior cleaner, and can have benefits for your health too.

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